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Features of a Wildfire-Resistant Home

According to researchers, 1/3 of all homes in the U.S. are located in or along the edges of wildlands. Because more than 35,000 buildings have been destroyed in wildfires in the last 10 years, communities are looking at ways to keep homes safer. The good news is that the cost of building new wildfire-resistant homes is considered to be comparable to the cost of building the average home. While it can be more expensive to retrofit an older home to make it more resistant to fire, these upgrades add value to the home and can reduce future maintenance costs.

What are some features of a wildfire-resistant home?

  • Fiber cement siding on exterior walls
    A durable product that requires little maintenance.
  • Class A fire-rated asphalt composition roof shingles
    While these shingles can cost more than the average new roof, they have a longer lifespan and require little maintenance.
  • Tempered glass windows
    Tougher than average glass windows, tempered glass can resist the intense heat from flames, preventing burning embers from entering the home.
  • Weather stripping around doors
    Like tempered glass, weather stripping can prevent embers from being blown into the home.
  • Well-fitted doors, including garage doors
    Doors that fit their frames well can prevent embers from entering the structure.
  • Composite board decks
    Typically made of plastics, composite decking material meets California’s strict Wildland-Urban Interface Building Code. Composite decks are low maintenance with a longer lifespan.
  • Defensible space
    California law requires homes in wildlands to have a noncombustible zone of 30 feet around the perimeter. Rock is better rather than bark as a mulching material, and firewood shouldn’t be stored near the house or under the deck.

What are other ways you can protect your home from wildfires?

CalFire has a helpful guide (400 KB) for upgrades you can make to your home and neighborhood to prevent wildfire damage.

To read more about the costs of building new fire-resistant structures or upgrading existing ones, download the Headwaters Economics white paper, Building a Wildfire-Resistant Home (3 MB).

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