Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project
Implemented by the Organization of American States
Unit of Sustainable Development and Environment
for the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and the Caribbean Regional Program


Easy Guide Checklist for Progressively Retrofitting Modest Homes

Progressive Upgrading for Hurricane Resistant Homes of Lower Income Families of the Eastern Caribbean


  1. The families owning these properties have a modest income, desire to do home improvements and will need to be guided as to the value and importance of including hurricane resistance measures in their home improvements plans.
  2. Any hurricane resistance measures included will need to be folded in under larger home improvements the family desires.
  3. Families may have to do both their home improvements and hurricane resistance retrofitting in progressive stages, for they may not have enough funds to complete the entire project at one time.


When a complete retrofitting project cannot be financed then the priorities come in this order:

  1. Strengthening and tying down the roof as much as possible since heavy rains and winds are perennial. If the roof fails, whether in hurricane or regular storms, all the other home improvements will be damaged and possibly wasted.
  1. Establishing a firm footing/foundation and tying the house to this solid foundation. If a house shifts off of its footings during a storm there will be great water leakage and damage to other home improvements.
  1. Strengthening the walls at the corners, around doors and windows and where they are attached to floor sill and wall plate.
  1. Strengthen doors and windows to withstand winds/construct shutters.
  1. Remainder of minimum standards checklist and/or additional amounts of each of the above (i.e. six footing pillars instead of four; more metal straps; additional studs etc.)
  2. Other hazards — think of flooding, landslides, etc. when selecting or evaluating a site.

Note: All of the above skills can be taught to any family member that has a working knowledge of hammer, saw, measuring tape and nails. Therefore, a family with severely limited resources can save cost by doing much of the work themselves under the watchful eye of a technical supervisor.

Each of these steps can be done progressively as and when the family has the funds to buy the supplies. A family may choose to repair and strengthen the roof in the first year, then construct a new kitchen (with some hurricane resistance included) in the second year. In subsequent years they can do the footings, the wall strengthening. Each step will make the house stronger and more hurricane resistance. The risk is that a strong hurricane will hit midway in the project and destroy the repairs made before the entire house is fully strengthened.

CDMP home page: Project Contacts Page Last Updated: 20 April 2001