A Sustainable Yard and Landscape

Project: Storm-Ready Design, Episode 14, Part 1

The Punta Gorda house is complete with a sustainable, low-maintenance yard designated as a Florida Yard by the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods program. Bob thanks Leslie Chapman-Henderson from FLASH as they review the enhanced building practices that will keep this house safe in a storm, like cast-in-place concrete walls, a raised foundation with stem walls, a roof system with embedded clips and straps, storm-resistant soffits, impact-resistant windows and patio doors, doors that resist blow-in, and a hurricane-rated garage door. The Mercedes Homes crew explains that these building practices are part of the move toward safe, responsible new housing for Florida. Inside, Bob meets homeowner Teresa Fogelini and Cynthia Guncsaga from Bacon’s Furniture Galleries, who furnished the home for Fogelini and Jim Minardi, who lost everything in Hurricane Charley. The Porcelanosa tiles set the color tone while the bamboo entry garden helped set a theme for the furnishings and art from Presseller’s Gallery. The kitchen is complete with cookware and accessories from Oh Cecile in San Francisco. Outside, Frontgate provided furniture designed to bring the inside outdoors with great looks that stand up to real weather. Bob ends with a walk across the lawn to a waiting boat at the dock.
Part 1: A Sustainable Yard and Landscape
Bob starts the walkthrough of the finished Punta Gorda home in the yard, which is sustainable and certified as a Florida Yard by the University of Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program. The key to a sustainable landscape environment is the right plant in the right place, like the two Sabal Palms that survived the hurricane and the extra one that has been planted to go with them. Water conservation is key to a sustainable yard, as well. Low maintenance plants, ground cover, and an inviting environment for wildlife are also important for creating an environementally responsible yard. Bob talks with Leslie Chapman-Henderson from FLASH about the storm-resistant features of the Punta Gorda house. The home is built of SWS — Solid Wall Systems — cast-in-place concrete walls that keep the home protected from impact and water penetration. It also has impact-resistant windows and patio doors to prevent penetration from flying debris, and an outswinging front door to resist blow-in. The home has a raised foundation and stem-wall construction to fight damage from storm surge. The roof goes beyond code with straps and clips that are embedded in the concrete structure during the pour to keep the roof tied down, extra thick 5/8-inch plywood sheathing rather than OSB, an extra moisture barrier, barrel tiles that are screwed into the substrate rather than mortered, and soffits that are reinforced and covered with a grill that resists wind penetration but allows heat from the roof to escape. Although code does not require storm-resistant soffits, Chapman-Henderson expects that to change after all of the soffit failures and water damage from Hurricane Charley. The garage door on this home is impact and wind-resistant with reinforced construction and heavy-duty tracks to prevent twisting, blow-in, and ultimate house failure during a high-wind event. Bob congratulates the Mercedes crew -- Scott Buescher, Mike Morris, and Jesse Gonzalez -- on the rapid construction of this storm-ready home in just three and one-half months. The systems and technology used are an indication of what big builders like Mercedes Homes can do to promote code compliant housing and building practices that exceed code in production building for hurricane-prone Florida. As Buescher says, it's imperative that builders get even better at what they do and continue to learn how to build stronger homes as hurricanes continue to blow in across Florida and the Gulf Coast.
Part 2: Interior Design for a Florida Home
Part 3: Kitchenware for Easy Living and Stylish Outdoor Furniture and Grill