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JHotz
2005-Nov-19, 02:29 AM
Is a Disaster Proof House possible? We keep rebuilding the coasts after Hurricanes. Maybe we could build individual houses that can resist any storm on their own even without levees. In Holland they build houses that will float. They are anchored by a pole that is also a flexible attachment point for the utilities. I believe that monolithic domes can resist any natural wind or earthquake. Fireproof houses can be built.

TheBlackCat
2005-Nov-19, 02:40 AM
Yes, but can they be built cheap enough that anybody can afford them? A house that is disaster-proof is of no use if no one can afford to live there. Codes for areas have to balance the cost of the requirements with their effectiveness and the chance of actually getting hit. People who can afford it can always make their houses to higher standards. A completely disaster-proof house would probably be pretty much unafordable.

Stregone
2005-Nov-19, 03:18 AM
Just how big of a disaster are we talking about here...? :D

JHotz
2005-Nov-19, 04:06 AM
Yes, but can they be built cheap enough that anybody can afford them? A house that is disaster-proof is of no use if no one can afford to live there. Codes for areas have to balance the cost of the requirements with their effectiveness and the chance of actually getting hit. People who can afford it can always make their houses to higher standards. A completely disaster-proof house would probably be pretty much unafordable.The thin-shelled concreted domes that can resist any natural wind and they are cheaper to construct that traditional stick framed housed. Even traditional homes could resist hurricane wind if earth is burmed up to the roofs that are anchored to the foundation with chains of cable instead just nails The floating house involves no increased expense. It is built on a concrete float instead of a concrete footing.
http://www.monolithicdome.com/
http://www.greenhomebuilding.com/earthship.htm
http://www.sptimes.com/2005/11/07/Worldandnation/A_home_that_rises_wit.shtml
The real impediment is the inflexible and outdated building codes that do not allow for diversity and unorthodox techniques.

JHotz
2005-Nov-19, 04:07 AM
Just how big of a disaster are we talking about here...? :DI was thinking any storm.

Stregone
2005-Nov-19, 04:57 AM
I was thinking any storm.
Well as far as wind damage goes, current technology is actualy pretty good with that. All new houses in florida have practicaly bullet proof windows (same sort of technology), and the roof trusses are bolted to metal straps that are bolted to the foundation.

I don't think anything will help with really bad flooding, other than not building a house there in the first place.

Argos
2005-Nov-19, 12:41 PM
Just use more concrete and bricks, and everything´s going to be alright.

MrClean
2005-Nov-19, 01:23 PM
In the tornado belt it should be obvious to us that anything above ground is a possible right off. You don't have to worry about building for the wind, that's easy to overcome. It's the projectiles, your neighbors houses, cars, furniture, heck, your neighbors, that when thrown into your house at 100+ mph that does the damage. So you have to evaluate just how you want to spend and where you want to live. Most housing developements will not let YOUR house be the one that goes down instead of up, but they'll let you have a basement. Buy a home with a basement, build a re-inforced safetyroom in that basement. Don't forget to make the ceiling of that room safe, nothing worse than having an f4 take the ceiling off your safe room and piling a couple tons of refuse on top of you. Use it for storage all other times of the year, just make sure that there is room for you and yours to get into it and shut out the damage. My sisterinlaws house has a safetyroom that she had to be told it was one. She just wondered why it had a metal door.

In Oklahoma I've heard the problem is bedrock, as in the whole state is just 3 inches above bedrock. You have to dynamite a hole to cover yourself in. A re-inforced, above ground, concrete safety room is usually the only answer. They are safe even up to the strongest of Tornados and there are several examples of the 93? Oklahoma City tornado that road out that storm. They are expensive, but worth it when it comes time to use it.

Obviously, for any below ground system you need to ensure drainage. Wouldn't do to have you ride out the storm and then perish in the flood. Tornado's travel with torrential downpour, though the one that went by two blocks south of my house a couple years back Didn't rain too hard here. Well, it rained 25 pound transformers a block south, but there was a limited supply on those.

The nice thing about Tornados is the un-likelyness of you actually having to deal with one. I live with folks that have never even seen one of the darn things. Heck I went through 13 warnings and saw 3 of the bad boys the year I moved from Kansas to Missouri. Amazing what 60 miles and a river did. But in the 15 years I've been here I've had 2 storms pass over the house and one bad mammerjammer 2 blocks south. I wish they were just a tad more random, at least for me. I'd move to the coast, but one way I'd have hurricanes and the other earthquakes. At least I'm used to Tornados and know where to hide till they go past.

Keep your families safe, you can replace everything else.

genebujold
2005-Nov-19, 04:51 PM
Sure - they build them all over the world, usually out of rebar-reinforced poured concrete walls.

Of course they can't withstand every disaster. I would think a house-sized meteor would put one out of commission rather quickly...

TheBlackCat
2005-Nov-19, 06:53 PM
You can't build a basement in most of the Florida penninsula. The water table is usually only a few feet underground, any basement will turn into a swimming pool before too long. It is simply not feasible to reliable waterproof a basement in that sort of condition.

JHotz
2005-Nov-19, 07:39 PM
Well as far as wind damage goes, current technology is actualy pretty good with that. All new houses in florida have practicaly bullet proof windows (same sort of technology), and the roof trusses are bolted to metal straps that are bolted to the foundation.

I don't think anything will help with really bad flooding, other than not building a house there in the first place.When I was in Iowa I saw whole neighborhoods where the houses had a first floor garage and second floor living quarters. The first floor was concrete and unfinished.

JHotz
2005-Nov-19, 07:48 PM
In the tornado belt it should be obvious to us that anything above ground is a possible right off. You don't have to worry about building for the wind, that's easy to overcome. It's the projectiles, your neighbors houses, cars, furniture, heck, your neighbors, that when thrown into your house at 100+ mph that does the damage.Projectiles can easily and affordable be dealt with by building an earth sheltered home. The earth is piled up around the house. Projectiles will not penetrate. The wind flows over the curves instead of pounding a flat wall.
Buy a home with a basement, build a re-inforced safetyroom in that basement.We are talking about saving you house not you life.

Gillianren
2005-Nov-19, 11:00 PM
I've never lived anywhere wherein the disaster you had to withstand was a storm. Yes, there are pretty impressive winds once a year back home in California, and yes, there's flooding most years up here, but since I've never actually lived on a flood plain, the bigger problem in both places was earthquakes. (And when Mount Rainier blows, all the problems attendant in that.) However, a lot of the things that make a house hurricane-resistant don't much help for earthquakes and vice versa. (For example, brick's not going to help you in an earthquake and in fact quite the opposite.)

Besides, I live in an apartment. Not much I can do to make the thing more resistant to much of anything; it'd be against the lease to do major remodelling.

TheBlackCat
2005-Nov-20, 01:06 AM
Projectiles can easily and affordable be dealt with by building an earth sheltered home. The earth is piled up around the house. Projectiles will not penetrate. The wind flows over the curves instead of pounding a flat wall.
The problem is that most of the places where hurricanes are problematic, i.e. the east coast of the US, have extremely high property values. It would be unaffordable for most people to have enough property to build such a house, or it would be too small. Why do you think so many people live in trailer homes in Florida despite the danger? They are not stupid, they simply cannot afford anything safer. What is more, such a house would not have windows (or they would be a long way from the livable part of the house). I am not sure people would enjoy that very much.

JHotz
2005-Nov-20, 01:25 AM
The problem is that most of the places where hurricanes are problematic, i.e. the east coast of the US, have extremely high property values. It would be unaffordable for most people to have enough property to build such a house, or it would be too small.Good Point
What is more, such a house would not have windows (or they would be a long way from the livable part of the house). I am not sure people would enjoy that very much.Though that is an extreme example. The thin shell concrete dome will resist virtually any projectile that will hit the house. We can imagine extreme examples that could penetrate it but there is very little chance of it happening. Even if penetrated the damage is less significant than would occur to a conventional home. You can shoot them full of holes and they will not become structurally unsound. I have found many testimonials of trees crashing onto them without damage. If you built one on a floating foundation it would be nearly indestructible to natural forces. They would not require more property and can have plenty of windows.

JHotz
2005-Nov-20, 01:32 AM
I've never lived anywhere wherein the disaster you had to withstand was a storm. Yes, there are pretty impressive winds once a year back home in California, and yes, there's flooding most years up here, but since I've never actually lived on a flood plain, the bigger problem in both places was earthquakes. (And when Mount Rainier blows, all the problems attendant in that.) However, a lot of the things that make a house hurricane-resistant don't much help for earthquakes and vice versa. (For example, brick's not going to help you in an earthquake and in fact quite the opposite.)
The thin shell dome is the most earthquake resistant structure available. It does not have a separate load bearing frame and outer covering. It is all one load-bearing piece. I read a story online of a contractor trying to demolish one. He though he could lift a side and collapse the whole thing. Instead it lifted intact until it rolled onto its roof. He then used a wrecking ball to knock holes in it but could not get it to collapse until he cut the rebar inside with a torch. People worry about the weight of snow on their roofs but the things are sometimes buried underground.

TheBlackCat
2005-Nov-20, 03:10 AM
The problem is dome structure are much less space-efficient than box-style structures. There is much more space that is simply unusuable due to the shape of the walls. A dome-shaped structure (assuming a half sphere) taking up an entire NxN block of land will only have about 52% of the volume of a box-shaped structure of the same height taking up the same NxN block of land.

Chuck
2005-Nov-20, 03:34 AM
Build the mobiles homes into railroad boxcars and keep them on short spurs of railroad track off of one long track that passes through the mobile home parks. Then a few engines could tow many homes to safety and bring them back later.

TheBlackCat
2005-Nov-20, 03:57 AM
What about all the mobile home parks that are in the middel of small cities or large suburban areas? Or what about ones that are in the wilderness with no train system nearby?

farmerjumperdon
2005-Nov-20, 05:38 AM
Friend of mine has 3 domes; about a 1980-built traditional geodesic that's 3 floors of living space and very nice, a concrete one probably like the one mentioned in a few places here, and a very spiffy high tech greenhouse. The greenhouse is my favorite. It's got a big water tank, all the ducts and tubing and other stuff to keep it warm enough to grow things all year long (even in WI), and enough space for him to hotel a few of my plants over winter. That concrete dome workshop is amazing though. It's got about 4 inches of concrete reinforced to the hilt, 2 or 3 inches of foam, and another layer of heavily reinforced concrete. Just a few very small windows. The only natural disaster that would faze that thing would be if there was an earthquake and the ground opened up and swallowed it. Probably not going to happen in WI.

Here's the kicker though. I'm pretty certain he built it because of a belief in Planet X.

Chuck
2005-Nov-20, 06:11 AM
What about all the mobile home parks that are in the middel of small cities or large suburban areas? Or what about ones that are in the wilderness with no train system nearby?Move them closer to the rail lines or build a few new rail lines.

genebujold
2005-Nov-20, 06:20 AM
What about all the mobile home parks that are in the middel of small cities or large suburban areas? Or what about ones that are in the wilderness with no train system nearby?

One friend mentioned that you'd solve a lot of problems involving wind and tree damage if you were relocate mobile homes underground. Helps to solve issue involving earthquake shake, too, although I would think it's a bit tough to breath under all that dirt.

dvb
2005-Nov-20, 12:36 PM
Move them closer to the rail lines or build a few new rail lines.

How do you pipe in water, sewage, hydro, or natural gas into homes on tracks?

Chuck
2005-Nov-20, 08:09 PM
How do you pipe in water, sewage, hydro, or natural gas into homes on tracks?Same as homes sitting on the ground. Connect pipes to them.

TheBlackCat
2005-Nov-20, 08:31 PM
Move them closer to the rail lines or build a few new rail lines.
Both of these solutions would involve tearing down existing houses and or businesses to place rail lines or mobile home parks somewhere that already has structures. Urban and suburban areas simply don't have the room to place mobile home parks and rail lines wherever you want. I don't think that you would have much luck pushing that through the city council, generally it seems mobile home owners don't have enough clout to prevent their parks getting torn down to build more expensive housing, not to mention tearing down more expensive homes so they can build more mobile home parks. And I would like to see you have them build railroad lines through national forests to get the tracks to mobile homes there. If we were going to take either of those roads, it would probably be cheaper to just buy them more study houses.

TheBlackCat
2005-Nov-20, 08:34 PM
One friend mentioned that you'd solve a lot of problems involving wind and tree damage if you were relocate mobile homes underground. Helps to solve issue involving earthquake shake, too, although I would think it's a bit tough to breath under all that dirt.
As I said, there is no underground in Florida. The water table is just a few feet below fround level, anything that you tried to build underground would flood very quickly. At my undergraduate university someone donated a hydraulic elevator to the business school, but they can barely keep it working because water seeps in an shorts it out. Imagine trying to keep an entire mobile home park far depeer underground dry. Even if it was possible, once again it would probably be cheaper to just buy them more sturdy homes (especially when you consider the need for the electricity for constant ventilation).

LurchGS
2005-Nov-21, 02:45 AM
Obviously, there is no universal disaster-proof home. In Flatland... er.. Florida, you need a home that can survive high winds (if you live inland), and high winds AND storm surge if you live near the water. (this is true of all the Gulf Coast and most of the east coast)

Where I live, I would worry about tornadoes. Period. I'm up on a hill, so flooding is not an issue - if it is, I better have a big boat with a bunch of animals on it and y'all better have water wings.

I have lightning rods on the house, vinyl siding (no hail damage) and a (they call it) two car garage...

I would not live on the east/gulf coast for any money, nor would I live on the california coast. (yeah, I'm one of those 'fall in the ocean' believers).

not a lot of help, I know.. but I think that's because I don't think there IS a single answer

genebujold
2005-Nov-21, 03:22 AM
Obviously, there is no universal disaster-proof home.

Sure there is. It's called a land-based underground submarine. Capable of withstanding winds in excess of 500 mph, floods of up to 50 feet for weeks at a time, and build to specifications to withstand at least a 6.5 earthquake.

If the earthquake is larger than that, you're in California, and you're probably not too worried about tornados, hurricanes, or floods!

Designed right and built right it'd probably cost you no more than 30% of an above-ground home.

Winter heating costs would be less, too!

LurchGS
2005-Nov-21, 04:17 AM
see? it won't work in California, ergo, it's not universal... nor is it Warner Brothers.

Personally, I'm seeking a cliff-face home - all the benefits of being underground, with a view!

JHotz
2005-Nov-21, 05:15 AM
The problem is dome structure are much less space-efficient than box-style structures. There is much more space that is simply unusuable due to the shape of the walls. A dome-shaped structure (assuming a half sphere) taking up an entire NxN block of land will only have about 52% of the volume of a box-shaped structure of the same height taking up the same NxN block of land.You make a valid point but the structure does not have to be one big dome it can be virtually any combination of smaller connected partial domes. This can greatly mitigate the issue that you speak of.

Gillianren
2005-Nov-21, 06:46 AM
If the earthquake is larger than that, you're in California, and you're probably not too worried about tornados, hurricanes, or floods!

Well, provided you're not in the Central Valley, which does actually get floods. And I'm pretty sure we once had a hurricane; anyway, I remember my mother telling me that we did once when I was a child. Even tornados, once in a while. (Not often, I'll grant you.)

Oh, and let's not forget, if you are in LA (which is what most people believe "California" means, despite the fact that it's the third-biggest state in the US), there's also the exciting option of mudslides. What's proof against mudslides?

cran
2005-Nov-21, 09:17 AM
Originally Posted by TheBlackCat
What about all the mobile home parks that are in the middel of small cities or large suburban areas? Or what about ones that are in the wilderness with no train system nearby?

Move them closer to the rail lines or build a few new rail lines. Don't need to ... put them on standard road bogies, with interlinks; hook up a prime mover ... and you have a 'road-train'.
How do you pipe in water, sewage, hydro, or natural gas into homes on tracks?For utilities, interchangeable connectors and flexible flexible feeds at 'collection safety areas' should cope with that. Keep in mind, this is suggested for evacuations.
Warning time, and disaster planning, will determine how successful such manouvers are: 'road trains' on suburban roads are very slow movers.

cran
2005-Nov-21, 09:22 AM
You make a valid point but the structure does not have to be one big dome it can be virtually any combination of smaller connected partial domes. This can greatly mitigate the issue that you speak of. Not on the 'postage stamps' they call house blocks these days (medium-density indeed!) and not in high-density urban environments - unless you're suggesting stacking domes on top of each other? I have to agree with TheBlackCat on this - dull and dreary as it may be, a 'box' is the most efficient use of space in a land surface space-limited setting.

[edited to add 'land surface']

genebujold
2005-Nov-22, 01:39 AM
see? it won't work in California, ergo, it's not universal... nor is it Warner Brothers.

Personally, I'm seeking a cliff-face home - all the benefits of being underground, with a view!

And landslides, earthquakes, additional heating bills due to severely increased thermal conduction heat loss, birdstrikes on your picture windows...

Oh, good grief! I hope you enjoy the view!

I wonder if there's a way to catch those strikes and notify the homeowner that dinner's ready for the plucking and cooking...

genebujold
2005-Nov-22, 02:58 AM
Not on the 'postage stamps' they call house blocks these days (medium-density indeed!) and not in high-density urban environments - unless you're suggesting stacking domes on top of each other? I have to agree with TheBlackCat on this - dull and dreary as it may be, a 'box' is the most efficient use of space in a land surface space-limited setting.

[edited to add 'land surface']

Actually, given a large enough circular dome, while adhering to the standard Dilbert cubicle, you rapidly exceed the point at which land use is exceeded compared to energy efficiency. You see the Dilbert cubes are like the spikes in Riehman's sum. Wish I could remember the spelling, but I digress... What matters is that the larger the discrepancy between the size of the circular dome and the cubicle, the less the loss due to a less than ideal geometric fit. The dome's natural efficiency rapidly overtakes that of the large block building.

TheBlackCat
2005-Nov-22, 03:02 AM
For a given height restriction and on the same non-curved parcel of land a square or rectrangular prism structure will always have more volume than a dome or half paraboloid.

LurchGS
2005-Nov-22, 03:12 AM
And landslides, earthquakes, additional heating bills due to severely increased thermal conduction heat loss, birdstrikes on your picture windows...


Well, landslides might be a bit problematical, but you can deal with them by putting a lip above the house - or just recess it into the clif-face a little.

Earthquakes are actually pretty minimal in new-growth mountain ranges like the Rockies etc.

If I can afford this home, I don't *care* about heating (but I don't thikn it's really any worse than an underground home)



Oh, good grief! I hope you enjoy the view!


If I didn't enjoy it, I'd have to move



I wonder if there's a way to catch those strikes and notify the homeowner that dinner's ready for the plucking and cooking...

That should be trivial - just hang a net under the face of the house and catch 'em. put a weight sensor on it to let you know when something lands in it.

----

Squab for dinner tonight, honey!

cran
2005-Nov-22, 04:48 AM
Actually, given a large enough circular dome, while adhering to the standard Dilbert cubicle, you rapidly exceed the point at which land use is exceeded compared to energy efficiency. You see the Dilbert cubes are like the spikes in Riehman's sum. Wish I could remember the spelling, but I digress... What matters is that the larger the discrepancy between the size of the circular dome and the cubicle, the less the loss due to a less than ideal geometric fit. The dome's natural efficiency rapidly overtakes that of the large block building.
I think I see what you're saying, and yes, it works with very large structures on a large base -
I'd hate to see the time, though, when populations consider it desirable to live in 'Dilbert cubicles' ... :(

farmerjumperdon
2005-Nov-22, 08:39 PM
For a given height restriction and on the same non-curved parcel of land a square or rectrangular prism structure will always have more volume than a dome or half paraboloid.

So why not combine the efficient space of a box with the nearly indestructible nature of the concrete dome?

I mean, you'd think 6" of reinforced concrete in the shape of a box would handle nature's disasters about as well as 6" of reinforced concrete in the shape of a half-sphere, right? Except maybe a nassty earthquake.

Any structural engineers out there that can explain why we don't just build houses out of reinforced concrete?

LurchGS
2005-Nov-22, 08:44 PM
not being in the industry, and therefore knowing everthing there is to know about it , I'd have to say "expense"
(insulation and the like are all trivial considerations)

genebujold
2005-Nov-22, 09:41 PM
For a given height restriction and on the same non-curved parcel of land a square or rectrangular prism structure will always have more volume than a dome or half paraboloid.

Yes. However, the larger the dome to cubicle dimension, the less additional space there is. When you put houses into the Superdome, for example, the additional space is minimal (less than a few of the several thousand houses you could build there).

Furthermore, the strength of the dome is many times greater than that of the houses.

Nicolas
2005-Nov-22, 10:28 PM
[quote=JHotz] In Holland they build houses that will float. They are anchored by a pole that is also a flexible attachment point for the utilities. quote]

That in fact has very little to do with making your house disaster proof. They float allright, but it's the kind of house I wouldn't want to be in when it storms. You're in the water, and the houses are far less strong than brick "land" houses. You're talking about houseboats, correct? The main reason to live there is to have flexibility in location, and in some cases to live cheaper than on land. There are a few genuine "floating houses" in the Netherlands, but the main reason to build them is the lack of space. Of course, in case of a flood you're better of in a floating house unless the storm sinks you...

LurchGS
2005-Nov-22, 10:32 PM
[quote=JHotz] In Holland they build houses that will float. They are anchored by a pole that is also a flexible attachment point for the utilities. quote]

That in fact has very little to do with making your house disaster proof. They float allright, but it's the kind of house I wouldn't want to be in when it storms. You're in the water, and the houses are far less strong than brick "land" houses. You're talking about houseboats, correct? The main reason to live there is to have flexibility in location, and in some cases to live cheaper than on land. There are a few genuine "floating houses" in the Netherlands, but the main reason to build them is the lack of space. Of course, in case of a flood you're better of in a floating house unless the storm sinks you...

well, *technically* it's a house boat. But from what I've seen, its' a standard house built on a specialty barge (one barge per house). The idea there isn't to weather tornadoes or hurricanes (few and far between) but to survive flooding without loss of life/property. The idea could be easily translated to something usable here in the states.

Nicolas
2005-Nov-22, 11:04 PM
That's the floating houses indeed (not regular houseboats). Built to save space, but of course also with floddings in mind. There is a group of holiday houses that float; handy for water holidays and the owner doesn't need to buy an expensive recreation terrain. Of course, the houses will be more expensive...

genebujold
2005-Nov-23, 12:09 AM
For a given height restriction and on the same non-curved parcel of land a square or rectrangular prism structure will always have more volume than a dome or half paraboloid.

Of course. That's a given. But what's been argued here isn't what's stronger, but which design offers the best comprise of strength and habitable space.

For a 2,400 square foot house you're only looking at a 9% penalty for a house that's twice as strong, that is, it can withstand 1.4 times the wind speed and another notch or two of earthquake.