Windstorm Damage Mitigation Training and Demonstration Center

"Hurricane House"


In 1997, the Florida Department of Insurance (now the Department of Financial Services) entered into a contract with the Shimberg Center for Affordable Housing at the University of Florida to supervise the design and construction of a series of "Hurricane Houses" in the State of Florida.

There are currently four houses, located in Broward County, Escambia County, St. Johns County, and St. Lucie County.


To create a network of regional training centers across the state to educate the public, builders and other construction industry workers regarding available methods to protect new and existing homes from wind damage typically caused by severe storms, including hurricanes.

The homes also serve to educate the same groups about energy efficiency. To showcase the latest materials and techniques for mitigating damage from severe storms and hurricanes and encourage their use in construction.

These same materials and techniques also demonstrate energy efficiency features.


Approximately $600,000, provided by the Department of Financial Services.

Basic Concept

To appear as similar as possible to a 3,000 square feet residential structure.



The building walls were constructed using a material known as insulated concrete forms (ICF). Examples ofICFs are show in the lobby. The outside of the form is polystyrene material. Reinforcing rods are inserted both vertically and horizontally within the form.

Concrete is then poured to fill in the middle channels of the form. The ICF provides a backing for drywall on the inside and stucco, siding or brick on the outside. An ICF building is both strong and energy efficient, providing continuous insulation and acting as a sound barrier. Insulating values for ICF walls are R-17 to R-26. ICF construction also allows for installation of smaller and more efficient HV AC systems.

Examples and information of alternative wall construction methods that are just as strong and energy efficient are provided in the lobby.

Windows and Doors

All windows and entry doors are impact glass systems. Impact glass protects windows and doors against penetration by windborne debris from hurricanes and other natural disasters.

A window is formed by sandwiching two panes of laminated glass together with a transparent polymer interlayer, and includes a stronger and heavier frame. It i.s installed as a system, made up of the window, frame and building wall. Impact glass can be installed in existing houses.

Hurricane Shutters

There are three types of impact shutter systems on display on the outside of the house. All can be installed on existing houses.

They include: I) electric roll-down shutters that also have a manual crank; 2) accordion folding shutters; and 3) removable aluminum panel shutters.

Garage Door

The garage door is an insulated wind-rated door (horizontal braces). For storms, it is reinforced by a vertical bracing system. Both the door and vertical brace can be installed in existing houses.


The roof is attached to the house walls by the required metal strapping (tie-downs or hurricane straps). The roofing system is reinforced with a polyurethane foam spray adhesive (FoamSeal).

The adhesive is applied to the roof truss (rafter) sheathing joints and to the sheathing seams, gluing the truss and roof sheathing together. This improves wind resistance.

Tests conducted at Clemson University showed that the sheathing will break before the seal breaks. The adhesive strengthens the roof two to four times over nails alone and can reduce water intrusion by approximately 99%, preventing water damage if the shingles are blown offthe roof. The product can be applied to most existing roof structures.

Hurricane Screen

At the front and back entrance is an example of a flexible, transparent membrane that is approved for high velocity hurricane zones.

It is composed of a flexible, corrosion resistant, lightweight fabric that is 95% solid and 5% porous, allowing natural light and visibility while effectively eliminating high winds and driving rain intrusion.

The barriers are removable for storage.


  • University of Florida-IFAS, Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center 3205 College Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314 (Broward County)

  • Attention: Located at the end of the main road west of the FLREC main office.

Contact info

Phone: 954-805-4556



Hurricane House in the News!

Hurricane House Visit by Alphonso Jackson, Sec. of Housing and Urban Development. 11/25/06