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Hurricane Clips for Florida Homes: The Essential Guide to Hurricane Clips, What They Are, What They Do, How They Affect Your Insurance, And How To Have Them Installed

Part 1: Understanding Hurricane Clips and Protection For Florida Homes


A Craftsman Style Home in Northwest Florida During a Hurricane

Hurricane clips, also known as tie-down connectors, are small yet mighty heroes in the construction world, especially in hurricane-prone areas like Florida. These metal fasteners play a crucial role in securing a home's roof to its walls, particularly at the roof-to-wall junction. They are typically made of galvanized or stainless steel and are designed to withstand the powerful forces of hurricane winds. Despite their modest size, they're designed to create a robust bond that helps prevent the roof from being peeled away during the high-pressure scenarios of a hurricane, effectively 'clipping' the roof down like a steadfast anchor.


The Role of Hurricane Clips

Imagine your roof as a lid on a pot. During a hurricane, winds exert significant upward pressure on the roof, trying to "pop" the lid off. Here, hurricane clips act like sturdy clamps, keeping the lid (roof) firmly attached to the pot (walls). By doing so, they significantly mitigate wind damage by preventing the roof from being lifted off during severe storms​​​​. [1]


Historical Context and Regulations

The journey of hurricane clips in construction has evolved alongside our understanding of hurricane dynamics. Their usage became increasingly widespread as the devastating effects of hurricanes on homes without such reinforcements became apparent. In Florida, homes built after 2001 must have hurricane clips, a mandate following the 2002 Florida Building Code. This requirement highlights the increased awareness and necessity of such protective measures in construction​​. [2]


 

Part 2: Retrofitting Older Homes with Hurricane Clips


Installation Techniques for Existing Homes


Upgrading older homes with hurricane clips is a vital step in enhancing their resilience against hurricanes. Let's explore the common methods:


  1. Installation from Inside the Attic: This method involves accessing the attic space to attach hurricane clips directly at the points where the roof trusses or rafters meet the wall plates. The costs here are primarily for the clips themselves and the labor for installation, which can be relatively less since there's no need for exterior work.

  2. External Installation Under the Soffit: For homes where attic access is challenging or restricted, hurricane clips can be installed from outside, under the soffit area. This method ensures a secure connection between the roof and the wall structure, although it may be more visible compared to internal installation. It may involve additional costs due to the complexity of accessing the roof-to-wall connection from outside. This method might also require the temporary removal and replacement of soffit materials, adding to the labor hours.

  3. During Roof Replacement: When a roof is being replaced, it presents an ideal opportunity to install hurricane clips. Even if the roof decking is not being replaced, it may be lifted, and installing these clips becomes more straightforward, allowing for a more robust attachment between the roof and the wall structure. However, this is conditional on you needing a new roof in the first place; otherwise, it's not the most economical choice just for clip installation. [3]


What is the best method for owners of homes with unconventional roof shapes, no soffit, narrow spacing otherwise not allowing for attic or external access?


A Beach Home With No Soffit and Exposed Fascia

For some older homes, there is no reasonable way to install hurricane clips. In this case, the only real opportunity for instillation is during a roof replacement. While the shingles or roof surface has been stripped from the home, a roofer or general contractor can lift or remove the roof decking nearest to the roof truss to wall connection. They can access and add either hurricane clips, or hurricane straps at that point.


The problem is, most roofers, contractors, or even insurance agents are guilty of not suggesting to have this retrofitting done to your home. It is an additional cost, but could provide great savings in years to come.


What kind of savings could you expect with hurricane clips being added?


Regardless of the method, the upfront costs of retrofitting with hurricane clips can be offset by the potential insurance discounts available for improving the wind mitigation of your home. Moreover, the reduction in potential storm damage can result in long-term savings, making the initial investment a wise financial decision over time.


We have noticed the one time cost is often between $800 - $5000 for the installation (with $2000-$3500 being a common cost). The savings though is often quite drastic.


Insurers will often give a discount of 20-50% of the hurricane premium which could equal hundreds or thousands of dollars annually.


To cite 2 case studies of homes without clips and the potential savings. Background on the case studies: these were selected as they are very common home styles found around Pensacola, both around 1400 sqft, although they are very different styles of home. One case study is written on a homeowners form, and another on a dwelling form as it is tenant occupied and rented annually. The first example uses rates from 2021, and the second from 2022.*


*Please note: these rates are from years in the past but are used to illustrate the cost versus savings down the road. They should be taken as an example but not a guarantee of similar savings, examples of rates in 2024 or later. For a quote on your home insurance with and without a discount for hurricane clips, please call, text, or email.


 

2 Examples of Insurance Rates Before and After Hurricane Clips


 

Why It Matters to Homeowners


Cost vs. Insurance Savings

Installing hurricane clips is an investment in your home's safety and can lead to significant insurance savings. In Florida, for instance, homes with proper wind mitigation features like hurricane clips can save homeowners 20% to 50% on their insurance premiums. The initial cost of installation, while varying based on the method and the size of the house, is often offset by these insurance savings over time.


Reduction in Claims and Long-term Savings

Data shows that homes with hurricane clips are less likely to suffer severe damage during hurricanes, leading to fewer insurance claims. This not only protects your home but also keeps your insurance premiums lower in the long run. The investment in hurricane clips often pays for itself through reduced insurance costs and enhanced safety.


Conclusion

For Florida homeowners, the importance of hurricane clips cannot be overstated. Their role in protecting homes from devastating hurricane damage is crucial. The cost of installing these clips is an investment in your home's structural integrity and can lead to significant insurance savings and enhanced safety. As we often say in Florida, it's better to be prepared than to wish you had been when the next hurricane hits.


 

This blog had photos of hurricane clips provided by One Source Home Inspectors. One Source is one of our preferred inspection partners, we have had years of experience with them, and are grateful for their help and providing us images to use. To determine if your home has clips, or have a home, wind, 4 point, or roof certification inspection please reach out to them at 850-736-1622, or via email at office@onesourceinspectors.com.



If you're considering retrofitting your home with hurricane clips or want more detailed information on the installation process, I recommend checking out helpful resources and videos online for a clearer understanding. Remember, always consult with a licensed contractor to ensure proper installation and compliance with local building codes.


 

Joe Nelson, Agency Owner at Nelson Insurance Agency

About the Author: Joe Nelson is a 10+ year experience insurance agent and the founder of Nelson Insurance Agency. Born and raised near the beach, he has an understanding of life on the beach, and years of practical and industry knowledge of all things relating to insurance in areas high prone to wind, and flooding. Outside of insurance he enjoys camping and hiking but is most often found at home with his wife, daughter, and pets often experimenting with a new recipe, or working on some form of creative pursuit with art, writing, crafting, or design.

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