LaHouse Storm Shelter

Claudette Reichel  |  5/22/2013 6:34:08 AM

Storm shelter separate from house walls and ceiling

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epoxy set anchor bolts

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Twist straps connect studs to ceiling joists

Photo By: Picasa

The LaHouse master bedroom closet exhibits a low-cost, family storm shelter that is fortified to a higher level of wind and impact resistance than the rest of the house using readily available and affordable materials and skills.

Note that it does NOT meet the FEMA 320 standard for a tornado safe room
engineered to withstand the strongest tornados. See for tornado safe room guidelines.

Low-Cost Storm Shelter Construction Components:

  • Master bedroom closet with no windows.
  • Structurally isolated from rest of house.
    • o Roof of shelter is not also the second floor.
      o Shelter walls are not load bearing walls for house structure above.
      o Non-shelter wall framing is not continuous with shelter walls (Don’t use continuous top plate across shelter-to-non-shelter boundary.)
  • Anchor bolts with 3 inch washers between every stud connect bottom plate of walls to concrete slab foundation.
    • o Drilled, epoxy-set anchors were used in cured slab.
      o Studs are spaced 16 inches on center.
  • Hurricane straps on every stud at top and bottom.
    • o Metal straps wrap under bottom plate and up both sides of studs.
      o Twist straps on studs wrap over ceiling joists aligned over studs (16 in. o.c.).
  • Sheathed with 2 layers of 3/4 inch plywood.
    • o Plywood has better debris impact resistant properties than OSB panels.
      o Plywood layers staggered to offset seams.
      o Plywood attached with ring shank nails every 6 inches.
      o Similar cladding over the ceiling joists.
  • Door – Commercial steel security pocket door with heavy duty metal receiving frame and track.
    • o Pocket door hardware mounted to shelter framing in space between shelter and bedroom wall.
      o Has retracting pull, interior hand slot for closing, holes and pin to secure closed door from inside shelter.
      o Consider child safety to prevent entrapment in room.
      o Cosmetic doors for daily use.
      o An impact-rated swing door could be used instead of the steel pocket door.
      o Impact door should be a tested, rated door. Miami-Dade building department has listing of accepted hurricane-rated products on its web site, including doors and hardware.
  • Electric outlet, lighting, air supply included.
    • o Consider including alarm panel or panic button recommended.
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