We all love the great Aussie climate; there’s always plenty of golden sun, but inevitably, plenty of storms too. Every year, the storm season hits with unpredictable severity and frequency, and many homeowners and investors are caught unprepared. And while you can’t control the weather, you can minimise the risk that storms pose to your property. Here are 12 simple safety precautions to help protect your home or investment property against storm damage.
1. Pay attention
To protect your investment property against storm damage, you first need to be prepared. By that, I mean pay attention to what’s happening with the weather. Watch the news and weather reports, listen to the radio, or check for severe weather warnings in your local area. The Bureau of Meteorology is a great source of weather information and is updated every few hours.
2. Regularly trim your trees
We all know storms bring rain, thunder and lightening, but the accompanying strong winds are often overlooked. These winds can cause enormous damage to homes, especially if the property is surrounded by loose branches or unstable trees. Loose or fallen limbs are a potential hazard to your or your neighbour’s property, as well as a threat to your safety.
3. Keep your gutters clear
Regularly clear leaves and debris from your gutters and down pipes. They can quickly become blocked in torrential rain, and the water will follow the path of least resistance – usually, back into your roof or down your walls. This can lead to costly repairs and even foundational damage, and if you are an investment property owner, this means potential loss of rent while repairs are carried out.
4. Ensure water can flow away from your home
The grade of your lot should keep water flowing away from your home and into a ditch, drain, or other proper retention area. So make sure you keep any drains unblocked so that the excess water has somewhere to go (preferably not into your home).
5. Replace missing or damaged shingles
Similarly, keep up to date with roofing repairs. Cracked tiles or worn sealant will not withstand a heavy downpour.
6. Be smart with electricity
Australian law states that all homes must be fitted with a safety switch. If you don’t have one already, arrange for an electrician to install one. In the event of an electrical disruption such as a lightning strike, a safety switch will trip the power and prevent possible damages, fires, and deaths.
7. Check the foundations
Have a professional engineer or builder inspect your home’s foundations, as recent weather could have washed away the underlying soil.
8. Walk around your property
Not everyone has the time or skills to check or repair everything on their property before storm season. But if you know a storm is coming, wander around your yard and identify items that could become projectiles. That means minimising any loose items surrounding your house, such as bikes, trampolines, lawn furniture, tools, flower pots or other yard debris. Do yourself a favour and move those items to a garage, a shed, or indoors.
9. Ensure proper sealing of doors and windows
Ensure there are no access points for wind, such as windows that do not close properly or seal, and garage doors. Wind can funnel through these points, and cause the roof to lift. If the roof comes off completely, your home being totally vulnerable to storm damage will be the least of your concerns.
10. Prepare your garage
If you house your car in a garage, park it against the garage door during strong winds. This will prevent the garage door blowing in and potentially pulling away from its runners, as your car will act as reinforcement to brace against the winds.
11. Check for loose fence posts
Anything that’s not nailed down is a liability, and that includes fence posts. Checking how stable your fence is as simple as giving each post a good shake to check for loose ones. Reclaimed wood is popular in contemporary décor, but perhaps not being flung through your living room window.
12. Keep a generator on hand
Depending on the severity of the storm, you could lose power to your property for hours or even days during and after. Having a generator on standby will ensure you don’t lose your food, hot water and electricity until the power is restored.
And finally, consider taking out home insurance if you haven’t already. This is particularly helpful if you own an investment property, as it can cover for potential loss of income under certain circumstances. You can’t prevent the storms, but you can reduce the impact on your home.
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