The traditional American single-family house is not designed to withstand disasters. Ideally a house should offer good protection from floods, fires, earthquakes, storms, civil unrest and financial difficulties. Most houses today are designed with substantial input from building contractors who have the primary goal of selling for the highest price.
The disaster resistant building project by William Edward Summers, a San Francisco, and British Columbia based design theorist, explores ideas about how residential and small to mid-sized commercial buildings can be designed to be disaster resistant.
The ongoing project is presented at Summers’ website www.designenvelope.com.
Three quick suggestions from Summers’ project;
1) Use attics or half stories, rather than roof trusses, to add substantial, usable square footage to your building for very little additional cost.
2) Build at least one full story above the one hundred year flood plain and consider building the first floor walls in concrete.
3) Allow room for a potential future rental unit even if you never intend to have tenants. If not used to create cash flow, it still might come in handy for use by friends or family members, or as quarters for a live in nurse or domestic assistant.