Are Barndominiums Safe in A Tornado?

Before committing thousands of dollars to build a barndominium, it is crucial to ask, ‘are barndominiums safe in a tornado?’. This question is especially important if one lives in the tornado alleys of the United States like Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, or Missouri. Getting factual answers to this pressing question will possibly save a person’s life and keep them from losing lots of money.

Barndominiums are sturdy structures made out of the strongest construction material- steel. The structure of barndominiums allows them to withstand tornadoes reaching up to 150mph without much interior or exterior damage. While barndominiums are generally safe in a tornado, it is a good idea to reinforce the structure to have higher resistance to stronger tornadoes and other severe weather conditions.

What Is the Life Expectancy of A Barndominium?

In good condition, a well-built barndominium can last hundreds of years. Bardominiums have a basic but sturdy build. They are often built with heavy steel frames or wood, which gives them durability and high resistance. A wooden barndominium will last well over 100 years, while a steel barndominium will survive for over 50 years.

What Is the Life Expectancy of A Barndominium

Although wooden barndominiums seem to last longer, how long it lasts depends on how well it is maintained and the kind of wood used. Properly treated lumber that is rot-free will last significantly longer than uncoated wood. If the wood that is exposed to sunlight and moisture is used in the construction of a barndominium, the structure will dry out and become flammable.

That said, the lifespan of a barndominium depends on several factors. These factors include; construction, environment, maintenance, and materials.

Construction

The lifespan of any building including a bardominium depends on the quality of construction. A poorly constructed building would have a short lifespan even if it were built with the best materials.

Some barndominium homeowners choose to build one by themselves using DIY kits. This will likely save a person hundreds or thousands of dollars in labor and let one have control over the construction process. However, if the person has little or no construction experience, they may make costly mistakes that could reduce the structure’s lifespan.

For longevity, it is always better to hire a company or an independent contractor with building experience. An experienced builder will construct the barndominium using post-frame construction with metal posts. The posts should be 8-12 feet apart and should be lodged deep into the ground to prevent them from shifting after construction which could lead to cracks and structural damage.

Working with an experienced contractor may also save one from having a poorly laid foundation. If poorly prepared, slab foundations may shift or crack, impacting the barndominium’s lifespan.

Environment

The humidity level in the area where a barndominium is built will greatly affect its longevity. Hence, it may not be a good idea to build a barndominium by the beach or ocean as it may increase the risk of rust. Rusting on a barndominium reduces its structural integrity leading to damage to the frame, siding, and roof.

Maintenance

While barndominiums do not require much upkeep, some regular maintenance routines should be carried out to maintain the structure’s durability. A barndominium homeowner should regularly sweep the roof to remove debris and accumulated dirt. This will help prevent fire incidents. If it is a wooden barndominium, using water can cause the wood to swell, leading to roof leakage.

Material

The steel frame is the most durable feature of a barndominium. If it is well constructed, it should keep the structure standing for hundreds of years without the need for replacement.

The slab foundations that most barndominiums stand on can also support the structure for 80 to 100 years. Full base foundations can also last for hundreds of years. However, they are less used because they are prone to cracking and shifting.

Most barndominiums have metal sidings and roofs that tend to last 40-70 years, unlike traditional homes with asphalt roofs and wood or vinyl sidings that last 20-40 years.

Are Barndominiums Safe in A Tornado?

Those asking ‘are bardominiums safe in a tornado?’ will be pleased to find that the answer is yes. There are made of steel with a metal structure making them ideal for withstanding tornados and other severe weather conditions. The steel structure that makes up a barndominium allows it to stand up to winds less than 150mph.

Are Barndominiums Safe in A Tornado

If the structure is well built and maintained, barndominiums can safely withstand an F-4 tornado. The impressive wind resistance of barndominiums is why they thrive in storm-prone areas and states.

However, if the barndominium is made from cheap materials and not from quality steel, then it may not be well equipped to withstand a tornado. In that case, the owner may need to add reinforcements to give it added resistance.

To withstand strong winds, the steel walls of barndominiums should be reinforced with a 2-3 inch solid steel armor plate. A solid steel armor plate is formed by compressing multiple layers of steel; this improves the tensile and compressive strength of the structure.

During tornados, the strong wind can pick up and hurl heavy objects like rocks. If one’s barndominium is in a tornado-prone area, it is essential to ensure that the walls are thick enough to withstand great impact. Consider using extra poles and beam reinforcements to strengthen the structure. Also, experts advise homeowners in storm-prone areas to cut off or minimalize the use of glass windows and doors as they are weak materials.

Why Is a Basement Safe During a Tornado?

The key to surviving a tornado storm is to avoid the pieces and debris which the wind will hurl around. Most people who sustain injuries or die from a tornado attack are usually injured by flying wood, glass, or rocks. The basement is one of the safest places during a tornado because it is underground and keeps one out of the wind’s way.

A common belief is that since most tornadoes in the US travel from the west-southwest to the east-northeast, then the southwest corner of the basement is the safest. However, this belief may not be substantial, especially where brick or stone houses are concerned. After a 1966 study, it was found that the northeast corner of the basement is the safest place to hide while the southwest is the most dangerous. This is because when winds shift the house to the northeast, the upper stories will fall in from the southwest side of the basement.

While basements may work as a shelter from a tornado, it is worth noting that there are some obvious risks to hiding down in a basement. There is the danger of the home or building above collapsing into the basement and trapping the occupants. Hence, it is essential to take a few protective measures. One should get as many walls between the basement and the outside as possible. Also, get under a sturdy table and wear a helmet to keep safe from falling objects.

How to Keep Your Bardominium Safe During a Tornado

Generally, a barndominium offers protection against the threat of a tornado. They can withstand 150mph wind without damage to the exterior, frame, or foundation. Although barndominiums are a typically safe abode during a tornado, it is always better to take extra steps to increase their protective abilities.

How to Keep Your Bardominium Safe During a Tornado

Below are some protective measures to help keep one’s barndominium safe during a tornado

Always Check For Corrosion

Corrosion is one of the greatest threats to a steel frame barndominium. This occurs when steel is exposed to oxygen and water. Rain, leaks, severe weather conditions, and a humid environment are a few reasons why the structural integrity of a barndominium steel frame may weaken with time.

Thankfully, the exterior metal elements of a barndominium like the siding and roofing protect the building from moisture. The downspouts and gutters also help keep rainwater away. However, if the gutter is not regularly cleaned, it can become clogged with dirt, allowing water to collect around the foundation. This can cause the water to erode the soil and thereby cause corrosion

Hence, clean the gutters regularly. The way to check if the gutter is clogged is by using a garden hose. Use the hose to spray one end of the gutter. Ideally, the water should flow through the downspouts and drips without any obstruction.

Install High Impact-Resistant Windows

The windows of a barndominium can shatter in the face of strong winds. Hence, one may need to install a high-impact-resistant window. A DP 50 impact-resistant window can withstand small tornados and hurricanes.

Another good option for protection against high impact is storm windows. These windows are made from two panes of glass that are shatter-resistant. If this first pane breaks, the other pane may remain through the tornado.

Install A Roof With Gentler Slope

Roofs with taller pitches are good for snow-prone areas as they stop snow from accumulating on the roof of the barndominium. If one is in a more storm-prone area, however, one must consider installing a roof with a lower pitch. A lower pitch roof allows strong winds to glide over it, while a taller pitch roof may create resistance and be pulled off by the wind. Storm experts recommend installing a roof that has a slope of 30 degrees which is equal to a 7½ roof pitch, for increased wind protection.

How Do You Stay Safe in A Tornado?

In 2021 alone, 103 individuals lost their lives during the tornado season in the United States. The strong winds and flying objects are the biggest threats in the advent of a tornado. Violent tornadoes below EF5 can level and blow away any house or object before them. EF5 tornadoes carry winds of up to 200mph and can cause a lot of damage.

How Do You Stay Safe in A Tornado

While there is no way to guarantee safety, there are certain steps one can take to keep themselves and their family as safe as possible.

Below are some helpful tips on the ways to ensure safety during a tornado;

Be Alert and Prepared

Ensuring that one is always alert and on the lookout for any recent weather updates are the best choice to remain safe in case of a tornado.  Also, one must ensure that their families have knowledge on tornadoes, tornado watches, and the safest areas to hide during a tornado.

In the wake of a tornado, be sure to have the following items;

  • A TV, radio or the internet to allow them have information on weather reports. For radios, endeavor to have fresh batteries at hand.
  • A tornado crisis strategy. Have access to a safe shelter for family, friends, pets, and people with special needs.
  • Also, ensure to have food, water, non-perishable food items, medication, etc. In other words, one should have an emergency survival kit at hand.
  • List of important phone numbers and other tornado-related information.

Know Weather Conditions

To keep oneself and one’s family safe from a tornado, it is essential to keep up with weather forecasts. If thunderstorms are expected, stay tuned to the radio or TV for more information.

Sometimes, tornado storms may come without warning. In that case, it is crucial to know the weather changes that accompany a tornado. There are as follows;

  • A green-colored or dark sky.
  • A roar as loud as the sound of a freight train.
  • A dark, large, and low-lying cloud.
  • Large hail.

Hide in Secured Areas

During tornadoes, there is no certain safe space to hide, however, some places provide more security than others. Hence, do not remain in a mobile home during a tornado. Also, trying to outrun a tornado in a car is a dangerous practice as the car will be no match for the strong winds. The best thing to do is;

  • Avoid sheltering in a room with windows, especially glass windows.
  • Lead people down to the basement and shelter toward the northeast corner.
  • Go to a room without windows on the lowest floor, like the bathroom, closet, or center hallway.
  • Get under a sturdy table, cover your head with a helmet, and your body with a mattress.

How Much Does a Tornado-Safe Barndominium Cost?

A basic barndominium structure with few added features for tornado safety may cost $30-40 per square foot if it is a DIY building. If one hires a contractor, they should expect to pay $100-$130 per square foot.

As the reader already knows, adding tornado-proof features will significantly increase the price of a barndominium. The total cost of a basic structure may set one back $180,000 to $260,000. To add tornado-safe kits like double pane windows, drywalls, or low-pitch roofs, the price will increase by $5,000 to $70,000.

Conclusion

Are barndominiums safe in a tornado? The answer is yes, as long as there are engineered with proper design and construction to withstand strong winds. Barndominiums are steel structures, and steel has the highest strength to weight ratio. This allows barndominiums to withstand heavy winds and give them resistance to high impact. While there are generally safe, adding more protective features to the roof, walls and windows are a person’s best bet to keeping safe in a tornado.

James Hall

James Hall

I'm James, your barndominiums advisor. Several years ago, I had no idea what barndominiums were. Although I'd spent over 10 years in the construction industry, the first time I heard about barndominiums was when I saw my neighbor building a new-style home. That was the first barndominium I've ever seen, and I found it so fascinating that I wanted to learn more about them. In my research, I found that there is very little information on barndominiums on the internet. Barndominiumideas.com was started to provide people with information, inspiration and education on building their dream house.

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