Is building for bad weather what’s in store for the future?

In recent years, Ontario has seen its fair share of nasty weather – many will also remember the fatal and tragic lightning strike that hit a Brampton park in August. We also experienced havoc-wreaking storms that caused the first tornado fatalities in years, and the “summer of discontent” – long stretches of cooler, rainy days that resulted in flooding and angry residents complaining of sewer backups.

As climate change increasingly becomes a factor, homeowners should realize that building codes  and regulations won’t always stand up to future weather events, which will become more frequent as time drags on.

Mike Holmes, contractor and star of home-fixing show Holmes on Homes, says that Canada gets hit by up to 80 tornadoes per year, and that if buildings in earthquake zones have certain requirements, so should tornado-prone areas. In an October article he wrote for Canwest, he says, “If the same anchorage that’s used in seismic zones is mandatory in tornado zones, a house could survive an F2 with minimal damage.” The tornado rating system, the Fujita scale of intensity ranges from 1-5, and F2 tornadoes are what hit the GTA this summer. Holmes also questions why we’re not building appropriate houses depending on where they’re situated: fire resistant homes in areas at risk of drought or more secured, anchored homes in tornado and tropical-storm affected areas like Ontario and the Maritimes.

He says building above code is pretty easy, just by using the right materials and assembly processes.

“I think that smart building of the future will take into account regional climate and geography,” Holmes said, “houses need to be built sustainably, and in a design appropriate to the local conditions.”

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