Homes Built to Stricter Standards Fared Better in Storms

Riverwalk new construction home in Avery Square, a Pulte Homes community in North Naples, Florida.

Riverwalk new construction home in Avery Square, a Pulte Homes community in North Naples, Florida.

Following excerpts are from a Wall Street Journal story – click here to read the entire story.

Florida owners benefit from homes built to more-stringent codes: ‘Tree branches bounced off of our roof. But the house is fine.

By Laura Kusisto and Arian Campo-Flores Sept. 16, 2017 7:00 a.m. ET

As homeowners in Florida begin to take stock of the damage from Irma, one pattern is beginning to emerge: homes that were built to the stricter building codes seem to have fared better

“The feedback we’re hearing is positive,” said Rusty Payton, chief executive of the Florida Home Builders Association. “We’re all interested and there will be a deep dive. It appears that it did its job.”

The evidence so far is preliminary. Insurance companies, home builders, city and county officials and local resiliency experts say they are still conducting assessments of how homes and commercial buildings built to different standards held up during Irma. Homes in the Florida Keys, for example, tend to be older and were the most badly damaged areas from the storm, but until a few days ago the Keys were inaccessible to researchers.

Julie Rochman, chief executive of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, a research organization backed by insurers, said it is too early to say definitively what role the building code played in minimizing destruction during Irma. But she said early feedback from a research team that put in place instrumentation throughout southern Florida during the storm is encouraging

One of the team’s meteorologists who toured some of the affected areas was “very pleasantly surprised,” Ms. Rochman said. “It looks like the building codes have proved themselves, that the new construction has done well.

Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and chief executive of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, said she has noticed the roofs of older homes look like checkerboards with shingles missing. Flying shingles are a larger concern because they can hit people and property and cause additional damage.

Research led by Kevin Simmons, a professor at Austin College, looking at insured-loss data from 2001 to 2010 found that the building code reduced windstorm losses by up to 72% and that there were $6 in losses saved for every $1 of additional construction costs. The paper is expected to be published shortly in the Land Economics journal.

Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and chief executive of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, said she has noticed the roofs of older homes look like checkerboards with shingles missing. Flying shingles are a larger concern because they can hit people and property and cause additional damage.

Research led by Kevin Simmons, a professor at Austin College, looking at insured-loss data from 2001 to 2010 found that the building code reduced windstorm losses by up to 72% and that there were $6 in losses saved for every $1 of additional construction costs. The paper is expected to be published shortly in the Land Economics journal.

Florida has one of the strongest building codes in the country. Passed statewide in 2002 after Miami-Dade County beefed up regulations in the wake of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the new rules required newly built homes to have stronger fasteners that prevent their roofs from blowing off, nails instead of staples and impact-resistant windows in certain areas, which manufacturers sometimes check by firing pieces of plywood out of cannons at them.

Appeared in the September 18, 2017, WSJ print edition as ‘Newer Homes Hold Up After Irma.’

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