In 2012, Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast was awarded the Traveler’s Fortified Build Grant through a pilot program with Habitat for Humanity International.  The grant was awarded to various Habitat affiliates around the country to demonstrate that FORTIFIED standards can be successfully implemented by affordable homebuilders for a minimal cost increase.  Since then, all new construction builds have been certified under the FORTIFIED Program.


Devised by the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), FORTIFIED is a voluntary standard for both new and existing homes that guides builders and contractors to achieve above-code standards that offer superior protection to natural disasters.  Working with building science experts, engineers, and insurance professionals, research for the program has been conducted through IBHS’s state-of-the-art research facility, in which full-scale versions of homes are built and tested.  By subjecting these homes to various simulations of hurricane force winds, heavy rainfall, and fire, IBHS has been able to identify priority improvements in home construction to protect the home from natural disasters.  In 2012, a law passed under Mississippi legislation that all homes qualified under the FORTIFIED new construction standard and IBHS’ retrofit program, FORTIFIED for Existing Homes™, qualify for a 25% discount from both the state’s wind pool and private insurance providers because of the reduced risk these homes present to insurers.

IBHS Research Center: Sealed Roof Deck Demonstration 2011

The FORTIFIED requirements for high wind areas focus on strengthening the roof system, exterior walls, window openings, and the home’s structural connections, all of which have proven to be most vulnerable in severe weather.  Each new build undergoes two inspections (one pre-drywall, and one at the end of construction) and upon meeting all of the requirements, the home earns the FORTIFIED designation.  There are three levels of certification available in the program: Bronze, Silver, and Gold, with Gold being the highest.

Some construction features that may be included in a FORTIFIED Gold home:

  • Engineered gable end connections and lateral bracing
  • All plans reviewed and stamped by a licensed engineer to verify the home meets local wind code and has a continuous load path
  • Roof vents tested to Miami-Dade standards
  • Sealed roof deck, to protect the home and its contents if the roof material becomes damaged
  • Impact rated doors and windows
  • Enhanced nailing patterns on wall and roof sheathing