SecureNT

How to prepare your home

Over time buildings that were originally built to withstand a cyclone may deteriorate.

Every year you should do a visual inspection of your home and fix any of the problems listed below.

The following is a general guide only for the inspection and maintenance of structural elements of your home. 

For more information get the brochure is your house prepared for a cyclone? (756.6 kb).

Clear areas around your home

Trim treetops and branches so they are well clear of your home to prevent damage in case they fall.

Walk around your property and clear loose materials that could cause injury or damage in extreme winds.

Corrosion

Look inside your roof space for corrosion of metal roof coverings, batten straps, fixing bolts, fixing plates and other fixings such as screws and nails.

You may need to replace metal components that are corroding. 

This is particularly important if your home is close to the coast.

Rotting timber

Timber decays naturally in moist, damp conditions. 

This can affect bearers, joists, flooring, cladding and framing, particularly in exposed locations or where there are water leaks.

You will need to replace rotten timber. 

Termites

Homes in the Northern Territory have a high risk of termite damage. 

Your home will be stronger if you choose the right timber and wood treatments. 

You should regularly inspect and maintain your termite protection systems to keep them working.

Weathering and loose fixings

Humidity, rain, strong winds and long dry periods can cause structural components to deteriorate over time. 

Weathering can loosen tie-down bolts and fixings. 

Regular maintenance is needed to tighten loose fixings and replace deteriorated timbers.

Get your home inspected

You can hire a builder, building certifier, structural engineer, architect or other building professional to check areas in and around your home.

An inspection should review your entire home, with particular attention to the roof, gable-end walls, doors and windows, garage doors, roof eaves, house attachments such as porch roofs and carports, and other objects and equipment such as air-conditioners and hot-water tanks.

Go to the Building Practitioners Board website for a list of building practitioners registered in the NT.

Choose a room to shelter in

When choosing a room to shelter in, consider the following:  

  • rooms with concrete or reinforced and core-filled block-work walls are stronger
  • downstairs rooms are less affected by wind than those upstairs, but these rooms may not be appropriate if you are in a storm surge or flood-prone area
  • central hallways give greater protection because they are surrounded by the rest of the house
  • rooms with few or small windows are better than those with large windows
  • doors to the room should not face outside of the house if possible
  • solid doors with extra securing bolts are better than standard doors
  • metal screens or solid shutters give added protection against flying debris
  • a room with a water tap is good but you should also keep an emergency store of water.

You should prepare an emergency kit.

Improving the protection of your home

You can create a strengthened area in your home or build a purpose-built cyclone shelter. 

Create a strengthened area

If you want to create a strengthened area, choose a smaller area that is structurally stronger such as a bathroom or laundry. This will also give you access to toilet facilities.

You can strengthen your chosen area in the following ways below. 

Windows

Put shutters over windows to reduce the chance of flying debris damaging them and entering your room.

If the window is smaller than 900mm wide and 600mm tall, you can attach a sheet of 19mm plywood over it with bolted concrete anchors.

The sheet should have a good overlap outside the frame of the window. 

If in doubt, ask a structural engineer if the work you want to do is acceptable.

Doors

Upgrade to a solid-core door that is fitted with three strong hinges at the top, bottom and middle.

It should open inwards to make it easier to escape the room if debris is blocking the door.

In addition to the normal latch, the door should be fitted with two heavy pad bolts of at least M10 bolt size fixed at the top and bottom of the door.

You can also glue and screw either sheet steel or plywood on the outside of your door. Steel should be at least 1.6mm thick and structural plywood at least 12mm thick. 

If in doubt, ask a structural engineer if the work you want to do is acceptable.

Walls

If any of the walls of your room are made of 100mm or 200mm-thick block work that is not reinforced and core-filled with concrete, you can build a new wall outside and in contact with the old wall to add strength.

Alternatively, structural supports may be added. 

Speak to a structural engineer and get a building permit before doing this work. Read more about building and renovating a home on the Northern Territory Government website. 

Ceiling

You may be able to strengthen your ceiling structurally using additional framing or fixings and plywood sheeting.

Speak to a structural engineer and get a building permit before doing this work. Read more about building and renovating a home.

Build a cyclone shelter

If you choose to build a shelter in your backyard or as an extension to your home, you should consult a structural engineer and you will need to get a building permit. Read more about building and renovating a home.

Your shelter can be built as strong as you feel it needs to be. You should include inward opening doors and debris protection for any windows. 

You may choose to build one of the following types of shelter.

Core-filled structure

A shelter made up of reinforced core-filled 200mm concrete blocks with a concrete slab floor and roof. It can be customised to suit your space and needs.

Precast concrete panels or modules

A shelter built from precast concrete panels which can be customised to suit your available space and needs.

Recycled steel shipping container

A shelter that needs to be properly anchored to a cast concrete slab, columns or foundation blocks with hold-down attachments.

The doors should be modified to open inwards and be secured from the inside. This will allow you to leave the container if debris blocks the doors.