How do I protect my house from a hurricane?

Many homeowners in hot & humid climates live in areas that are prone to hurricanes. 

The ASHRAE Guide for Building in Hot & Humid Climates recommends to design
and construct buildings in hurricane prone areas using the following steps in order
of priority.

Building in hurricane prone areas

1. Keep the building from blowing away
        a. The building must be tied together from the roof rafters to the
        b. Be designed to withstand wind shear
        c. Windows should be impact rated
        d. The exterior finishes should be securely fastened to the structure
2. Keep the rain out
        a. The roof should have a large overhang
        b. All windows and doors should have sill pans
        c. Flash all windows, doors and other penetrations
        d. Provide a secondary roofing membrane
        e. Design closed crawl spaces that are dry and watertight
        f. Drain water away from the house by using gutters and sloping the
           ground away from the building
3. Prevent flood damage
    a. Elevate the structure above the flood plain
    b. Install hydro-static

Sustainability in the Hot, Humid South

Palmetto House Plan

 “Sustainability is not a one-time treatment or product. Instead, green building is a process that applies to buildings, their sites, their interiors, their operations, and the communities in which they are situated. The process of green building flows throughout the entire life-cycle of a project, beginning at the inception of project idea and continuing seamlessly until the project reaches the end of its life and its parts are recycled or reused.” (US Green Building Council. An Introduction to LEED and Green Building.)

At H2S, we are committed to designing sustainably and responsibly. All of our projects begin with a detailed site plan, which, along with our extensive knowledge of vernacular forms and passive design, allows us to create a home that fits with the site and consumes less energy. To us, energy efficiency is not all about the latest technologies, but also much about the traditional building practices of the hot and humid south. By integrating the knowledge of our ancestors, we are able to minimize the energy consumption of a home.

The primary advantage of sustainable design is the reduced impact that your home will have on the environment. Building green helps reduce greenhouse gases, water consumption and pollution from storm water runoff. By using renewable resources and green building materials, you can help conserve our natural resources and protect ecosystem biodiversity. Beyond the impact on our environment, there are many advantages to the homeowner as well. Lower utility bills, rebates, and tax credits will save you money. Your home will have enhanced indoor air quality and will be more comfortable (i.e. same temperature) throughout. Green homes have reduced home maintenance costs and have higher resale values.

Our location is perfectly suited to take advantage of plentiful, renewable energy from the sun. Installation of solar panels is becoming more cost-effective. Federal and state tax credits, net-metering and the ability to obtain a loan for initial installation makes solar energy accessible to most any homeowner. On average, the solar panel system will pay for itself in 9 years, with reduced energy costs from day one.

Vernacular Architecture: The Freedman's Cottage

The “freedman’s cottage” is a vernacular form found in Beaufort, SC. These were the first houses of the newly African Americans of the Lowcountry, and they are primarily found in the Northwest quadrant of Beaufort’s historic district. These cottages are typically two rooms with around 500 square feet.  Beaufort's Northwest quadrant has many historical examples, many with additions. Some of these cottages are immaculately maintained, while others are in need of TLC. 

The Freedman's cottage works well in our hot and humid climate. With less square footage, heating and cooling the space is much easier. Similar to the Dog Trot, the Freedman's cottage is generally oriented to face the North or South, with fewer windows on the East or West sides, which reduces solar gain. Cross-ventilation is maximized in the one-room thickness. High ceilings allow the heat to rise. The houses are raised off the ground to allow for more air circulation and to keep the house out of the flood plain. Hot Humid Solutions has adapted this form for the 21st Century. We envisioned a sustainable and energy efficient cottage, that is both comfortable and contemporary and created The Juniper. See the plans here.

The Importance of the Site Plan

At Hot, Humid Solutions, the site plan is an integral part of the process and essential to ensuring that the house fits the land and seems to belong to the site. Locating and orienting a house properly on the site is the first step in sustainability. Houses that are connected to the land and that thrive in a hot, humid climate need to have the care and knowledge that this brings to your project. Our price includes this important service.

Solar Power in South Carolina

The South East is poised to be a leader in the country for the use of solar power in private residences. Our latitude and climate in sunny South Carolina make it ideal for harnessing the power of the sun. With changing legislation, perceptions of solar power systems are changing as well. Here in South Carolina, recent legislation aims to increase the amount of solar installations and solar energy used. Public power utilities must obtain two percent of their average peak power demand from solar energy sources by 2020. For individual homeowners, costs of owning solar panels will be reduced in various ways. The new legislation increases the net-metering cap, which allows individuals to sell power back to the utilities, at the same price that the utilities charge. For the first time, solar leasing will be allowed in SC and several companies are now offering financing on home solar panel systems. With net-metering, tax breaks and rebates in place for solar energy users, the payback from installation can happen in as little as three years.

Along with legislative changes across the country, attitudes toward renewable energy in residential homes are shifting. The Department of Energy encourages energy efficiency in new homes through programs such as its “Zero Energy Ready Home Standard.” These guidelines ensure that when a home is outfitted with a solar panel system, it will use the resources as efficiently as possible.

Here at H2S, we are ready to help our clients take advantage of the economic and environmental benefits of solar power. We believe that the use of renewable energy sources is incredibly important, and we’d like for our clients, and our firm to be pioneers in the changing landscape of energy sources. Our mission is to design homes that are perfectly suited to the hot, humid Southern landscape and climate. The future is here, and it is time to include renewable solar energy systems as part of the fulfillment of our mission.