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Nobody wants to think about a tornado or hurricane happening, and even fewer people want to take on the renovations to mitigate them when other projects look so much better on Instagram. The reality is 35 million homes in this country—roughly one-third!—are at risk of a natural disaster, according to a new study by CoreLogic. After the winter storm in Texas alone, State Farm received 19,000-plus claims in February for problems like frozen pipes. With some advanced planning, though, the effects can be reduced.

Rethink the Landscaping

Gardens make for good curb appeal, but if you live in an area prone to wildfires, like Northern California, it might be time to ditch the hydrangea bush. Mulch and brush are especially combustible. Instead opt for decomposed granite gravel and stone pavers, which also save you from having to water the lawn.

Install a New Garage Door

Think less about the possible deluge of rain and more about the effect strong wind could have on your home’s exterior. Installing a sturdier metal garage door will make the space more resilient. According to the Florida Alliance for Safe Homes, nearly 80 percent of damage starts by wind coming through the garage. FEMA and the Red Cross also agree that losing the garage door in a storm is a major factor in damage. Paint it to match your trim and you’ll never know the difference. 

Update the Roof

If you haven’t figured it out yet by your sore muscles after shoveling the sidewalks, snow is pretty heavy. Now imagine how the roof is carrying a few feet for as long as it takes to melt. Houses not expecting massive drifts can be susceptible to all kinds of issues, like cave-ins or water leaks. Replacing the roof with metal panels on a steeper slope can help shed snow as it gains weight and let water run off instead of pooling. (It doesn’t get sturdier—or chicer—than a black powder-coated steel facade.) Pair this upgrade with a backup generator and consider yourself prepped. 

Our Winter Renovation issue is here! Subscribe now to step inside Leanne Ford’s latest project—her own historic Pennsylvania home. Plus discover our new rules of reno.