Monday, August 27, 2012

staying dry

peafowl seem to like hiding from the rain on the porch
With classes cancelled at FIU and throughout South Florida today, it's a good time to talk about the house's performance during cyclones. Like every building in the region, tin box is designed to withstand very high winds and intense amounts of rain without sustaining any damage. The trailing side of Tropical Storm Isaac is passing through Miami now with an almost regular pattern of calm-storm-calm-storm, and it is giving us a chance to look at how the house fares. The results so far are good.

The house seems to have no trouble with wind. We probably only had winds in the 40-50mph range, so this is not yet a good test of how it will perform during a hurricane (75-150+mph). But the house shows no signs of air infiltration - no breezes or whistling inside - and the windows and doors do not rattle at all.

The house can deal with the rain. The roofs and gutters have been able to handle the dense inundations pretty well, so far. The cistern is full, and the overflow pipe works as planned. The house is dry inside, which is no easy feat with wind-driven rain propelled against every exterior wall surface. There is one very small, intermittent leak which we'll fix as soon as the storm passes, but otherwise the combination of good design, detailing and construction has left us with a very sound building envelope.

The landscape needs work. We still have a lot of planting to do, but we also need to rework some of the grading (the level and slope of the ground) so that water drains away from the house better. We're in no danger of flooding, yet, but we're concerned that water standing against the foundation is starting to fuel algae growth on the concrete, which we want to avoid. We also need to work on reducing the ponding of water, especially at the corner in front of the house, where the two streets drain into our front yard.