Hurricane Zone

When a homeowner wants a home and garden that withstands a Category 4 hurricane with minimal damage, an ordinary backyard suddenly goes extreme. Extremely strong, that is.


By: Caren Baginski

When a homeowner wants a home and garden that withstands the wind from a Category 4 hurricane with minimal damage, an ordinary backyard suddenly goes extreme. Extremely strong, that is.

Architect Jay Jones designed the house and backyard of this Italian-style home in Tampa Bay, Fla. "The front of the house was very traditional with oaks and formal hedges, so [the homeowners] wanted the back to be more tropical," says Jones. Dotting the hardscape are flowering plants, plus several types of palms, including foxtail and Christmas palms. But it's the terrace, pergola with fireplace (plus an icemaker, refrigerator and grill) and the infinity pool that can stand up to the windy elements.

Besides an area restriction of 36-feet (house to boardwalk) by 81-feet wide, Jones also faced wind- and water-velocity zone restrictions plus storm surge regulations. Getting everything the homeowners wanted within the restricted area was a challenge. "They wanted a covered area because of the summer heat, and they also wanted an entertainment area," says Jones. The pier, however, is engineered to break away in the event of a hurricane so debris won't pile up.

Although the landscape is not Category-4-windproof, the hardscaping is. All foundations and retaining walls go four feet below grade, and the house boasts impact-resistant glass and doors. The walls will stay in place in the event of a storm surge, says Jones, even though the plants won't. The pergola is wired together with steel and surrounded by concrete. And the tumbled marble that runs throughout the space was placed on concrete slabs, instead of sand, to protect the foundation.


In order to get a seamless flow between pool and ocean, the holding pool was dropped down three feet, causing the rest of the grade to be elevated four feet. The effect is worth it. "From the inside of the house, it's absolutely spectacular because when you walk into the living room it looks like the water [the Gulf] starts 14 feet away," he says.

The project took a year and a half to complete and came down to the wire because of last minute changes, says Jones. Part of the tile for the pool, a quarried slate-like tile, was shipped from Italy to finish the job in time.

Pricetag: Unmentionably expensive



Architect Jay Jones founded Jay Jones Designs in 1985, taking on luxury renovations, custom homes and landscape/hardscape planning and design. He has been featured on HGTV's Ground Breakers and the Discovery Channel. His commercial projects include the Apple Valley's offices for Cartoon Network and the Croatian Embassy at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

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