Tornado and lightning damage over country side homes

Affordable solutions proven to significantly reduce wind damage to Canadian homes

In a ground-breaking report, the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) and the Standards Council of Canada demonstrate that each dollar invested in wind protection results in $6 of avoided damage to Canadian homes. The report highlights the urgent need to protect Canadian homes from severe wind events.

The report, authored by Dr. Keith Porter, Chief Engineer with ICLR, reveals three high-priority messages:

  1. Under-Design for High Winds: Low-rise residential buildings in Canada are not adequately designed to withstand extreme high winds and tornadoes, resulting in significant, preventable loss and damage.
  2. Strengthening Key Components of Buildings: Securely connecting roofs to walls, upper- and lower-storeys, and walls to foundations (or strengthening the “vertical load path”) can significantly increase resilience of low-rise buildings, making them capable of withstanding uplift forces from nearly all high wind events across the country.
  3. Cost-Effective Resilience: Strengthening these connections adds less than 1% to construction cost, approximately $3,500 for an average-sized house, and results in savings of approximately $22,000, representing a six-fold return on investment.

Paul Kovacs, Executive Director of ICLR, emphasizes the significance of these findings: "Hurricanes, tornadoes and other severe wind events are the leading cause of damage to homes in North America. Actions to securely connect roof structures to walls and walls to the foundation are cost-effective solutions that protect property and save lives.

Chantal Guay, Chief Executive Officer of the Standards Council of Canada, adds, "This standard can be used to build stronger homes to resist extreme wind events that are becoming more and more frequent across Canada. Using standards can lead to big benefits in building climate resilience for our homes and communities. We encourage all home builders across Canada to consider implementing this one into their current and future projects.

Key insights from the report include:

  • Approximately 80% of insurance catastrophe events in Canada between 2009 and 2022 are partially or largely caused by high wind.
  • Low-rise residential homes are particularly vulnerable to high wind impacts, with roof cover and cladding damage being common outcomes.
  • The cost of adding wind protection measures is minimal, about 1% of construction cost, and yields substantial long-term savings.

The benefit-cost assessment reveals that every $1 invested in wind protection saves an average of $6 in damages. Additionally, the report highlights the importance of addressing high wind events in the context of climate change.

To address these findings, ICLR outlines several implementation opportunities, including incremental adoption of resilience options, the need for accessible construction guidelines, and the involvement of the building industry in driving change.

For more information, read the report, "High-wind design of new woodframe houses has an average benefit-cost ratio of 6:1 in Canada," .