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Alabama Condos Recognized with Highest Resiliency Certification by IBHS

“With over 7,000 FORTIFIED homes in Alabama and now the first-ever FORTIFIED Commercial-Hurricane Gold designation is also earned in Alabama.”

The Colonial Inn Condominiums have earned the first-ever FORTIFIED Commercial–Hurricane Gold designation in the U.S.

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In order to improve resiliency for a new coastal Alabama complex, developers of the Colonial Inn Condominiums embraced the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s (IBHS) Fortified Commercial construction standards and earned the first-ever FORTIFIED Commercial–Hurricane Gold designation in the U.S., the highest level of resiliency certification offered by IBHS.

The project, built on an historic site in Fairhope, Ala., overlooking the Mobile Bay, creates a strong continuous load path, which ties the entire structure together and enables it to stand firm against extreme winds. It also includes onsite power backup for important utilities.

On property, there are five units, each containing roughly 2,500 square feet of living space and a two-car garage, separated into three buildings. Building one houses four units, building two houses one unit, and building three contains garages. Both unit buildings are two-story, insulating concrete form (ICF) FORTIFIED construction, while the garages are a single-story, frame construction.

“Our initial plans were to use wood frame construction for all of the condo’s buildings, but high insurance premiums and scarce and expensive building materials sent us in another direction,” says Carlton Niemeyer, the project’s developer. “After evaluating all our options, it became obvious to us that based on insurance savings, as well as cost and time to complete the basic structure, that ICF and Fortified construction was our best choice for the condominiums.”

IBHS designed the voluntary, construction standard and designation program, with Bronze, Silver, and Gold levels, to ensure new commercial buildings stand stronger against severe weather, including hurricanes, high winds, and hail.

“Over the past five years, IBHS has approved more than 7,000 Fortified Homes in Alabama, which leads the nation in Fortified construction,” says Chuck Miccolis, IBHS vice president of commercial lines, in a press release. “With the Colonial Inn Condominiums project, in addition to the new Gulf State Park project in Gulf Shores, Ala., we have now established how commercial structures in Alabama can also be built stronger to withstand severe weather events.”

Although Fortified Commercial designations are currently only available in Alabama, IBHS continues to promote resilient home, business, and community designs throughout the country.

Travelers Fortifies Communities

“Travelers Insurance joined forces with Habitat for Humanity and Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) to build affordable, wind-resistant, FORTIFIED homes in coastal regions of the country.  Read this article to better understand the few important changes they made while only adding four to five percent, on average, to the total construction coast.”

 

 

Building Up to Code: A Lone House in the Florida Panhandle Highlights That’s No Longer Enough

Photo:  AP
After Hurricane Michael’s devastation, experts say building codes should be a starting point, not the end goal for home construction.
“When rebuilding your home it is the perfect time to ask your builder how much additional cost would there be if we followed FORTIFIED home standards.  If it is too much money to get to the Gold standard we strongly recommend that you at least aim for Bronze since that is the roof system,  and “as goes the roof, so goes the home” a quote from Susan Millerick, director of public affairs for the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS).  The FORTIFIED program is clearly explained on our website or you can call us at (888) 964-8776 with any questions.”

Along the coast of Mexico Beach, Florida, entire houses are gone. In their place, large slabs of concrete and scattered piles of wood blight the landscape where beachfront properties stood just one week ago, before Hurricane Michael devastated the Florida Panhandle.

But one home that Michael left standing—with only minor external harm and virtually no internal water damage—has many rethinking whether the message to homeowners should be: building codes are just a starting point and not the end goal when it comes to hurricane preparation.

Building for the Big One

When Dr. Lebron Lackey and his uncle, Russell King, built their family’s vacation home on the shoreline of the Gulf Coast town, they built it with climate change in mind. “We wanted to build it for the big one,” Lackey told the New York Times, alluding to trend of record-breaking destruction caused by recent superstorms, such as Hurricanes Harvey and Katrina.

Their vacation home was fortified many times above the building codes enforced on the Florida Panhandle. The house was built on stilts, with a foundation of poured concrete and steel cables to secure the home’s base. Other essential components—its door, windows, walls and roof—were built to withstand winds of up to 250 mph. That’s 93 mph faster than the maximum wind speed of a category 5 hurricane, the highest category on the industry-standard Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

Lackey and King understood that the storms of the future could dwarf the storms of the past, and they wanted to build a home that would last. “I believe the planet’s getting warmer and the storms are getting stronger,” King told the New York Times. “We didn’t used to have storms like this. So people who live on the coast have to be ready for it.” After Hurricane Michael blew through, theirs was the only home on the block without severe damage.

Building up to code is no longer enough

Current building codes for counties in the Florida Panhandle require houses to withstand wind speeds of up to 150 mph. During Hurricane Michael, wind speeds reached as high as 155 mph, just shy of a Category 5 hurricane.

Panhandle codes also call for reinforced roofs, concrete pillars, shatter-proof storm windows and more. But the current codes were only put in place in 2007, meaning any home built to pre-2007 codes was unprepared for Hurricane Michael.

And as evidenced by the wreckage strewn across Mexico Beach, even houses built to code couldn’t withstand the force of Michael. “The thing to remember about building codes is that they are merely the least quality house you are allowed to build,” said Welmoed Sisson, a certified home inspector who runs Inspections By Bob, LLC with her husband in Frederick County, Maryland. “Most codes are a product of consensus, not science… As we put it to our clients, ‘Code is a foundation to rise from, not a ceiling to aspire to.'”

While common sense cautions against building houses on sand, the allure of ocean views and beachfront verandas continue to attract coastal homeowners to construct vacation homes and rental units in high-risk areas.

The anatomy of a hurricane-fortified home

While Lackey and King didn’t reveal the cost of building a home that withstood the 155 mph wind and lashing rain, which destroyed other area homes, the assumption is that it cost more than the average homeowner could afford. But exceeding regional codes isn’t necessarily out of reach for the rest of us, says Susan Millerick, director of public affairs for the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS).

“You can have a very strong home at any price point,” she said, citing the example of Habitat for Humanity, which “frequently builds fortified homes on a shoestring budget.”

For new constructions, Millerick recommends that builders follow the IBHS’s Fortified Gold Standard, which ties the entire house structure together into one secure unit, after the roof, windows, doors and attached structures have been reinforced.

For current structures, you probably won’t be able to retrofit the entire home to the Gold Standard all at once. So Millerick recommends a progressive approach. “Say your house is 30 years old and it’s time for a new roof. Get a strong roof. Get the strongest roof you can afford because as goes the roof, so goes the house.”

She recommends obtaining a sealed roof deck, so that water can’t get through the cracks if you lose a few shingles. Next, reinforce the roof’s connection to the rest of the home, even if your area’s building codes don’t call for it. “You want that roof to be as strong as you can get it,” she said. “That’s not a place to save money.”

Then, over the next few years, save up money to make additional improvements, such as wind-rated windows and doors.

“Every step you take makes your home stronger, and many steps that lower the risk for your home are affordable,” Millerick said. “You don’t have to build a concrete fortress in order to have a stronger home that can stand up.”

The cost of going above and beyond code

So how much will it cost to retrofit your house to exceed regional building codes? That depends on how good your region’s building codes are in the first place, as well as the cost of labor and materials in your area. “In Florida, for example, the difference between a fortified roof and a code roof is not going to be a big cost. Pennies on the dollar,” Millerick said. In areas with weaker codes, the difference in cost may be greater, but she estimates that for most homeowners carrying out renovations, it should cost just 3% to 10% more to exceed building codes.

When getting quotes from contractors, ask them to give you a price for to-code work and renovations that exceed the codes. In some cases, the difference in cost might be negligible. “Usually, if you want more nails per shingle or you them to tape your roof’s joints, they will,” Millerick said. “Most of them aren’t going to lose a roof job over a little extra labor.”

How much can you save?

It’s impossible to say exactly how much fortifying your home will save you over the long run, but a 2017 report by the National Institute of Building Sciences found that for every dollar spent on hazard mitigation, $6 could be saved in future disaster costs.

Exceeding your building codes will probably also increase the resale value of your home. “There are roughly 7,000 IBHS Fortified homes in Alabama, and they are appraised at approximately 7% higher than their non-fortified but otherwise equivalent counterparts,” Millerick said.

An added bonus: if you contact your homeowners insurance company and tell them that you’ve reinforced your roof or installed wind-rated doors and windows, you’ll often be offered a 5% to 15% discount on your annual premiums, according to Michael Barry of the Insurance Information Institute.

It could take more than a year before survivors of Hurricane Michael have fully restored their homes. While King and Lackey’s home suffered some cosmetic damage, it withstood the brunt of Michael’s destruction, with King estimating it will take about a month to clean up the damage. “But other folks, I don’t know,” he said. “Look at what these people suffered.”

Daniel Caughill

Daniel is a Staff Writer at ValuePenguin, covering insurance, retirement and other personal finance topics. He previously wrote about compliance and best practices for K-12 school districts at Frontline Education.

Houses intact after Hurricane Michael were often saved by low-cost reinforcements

“Here is an excellent example of what FORTIFIED can do for you and your home.  Take a look at our website for more information on FORTIFIED or give
us a call for questions at (888) 964-8776.”

The houses still standing in the storm-ravaged neighborhoods of Florida’s Panhandle are conspicuous for their presence. Sticking up from the rubble like one remaining tooth in a jawful of decay, each one is a haunting reminder of what used to exist around it.

In many cases, they were saved by additional strategically placed nails, some small metal connectors and window shutters that created a sealed package — low-cost reinforcements that determined whose home survived and whose was destroyed by the power of Hurricane Michael.

There are the five Habitat for Humanity houses in Panama City, a waterfront vacation home in Mexico Beach, a house built by a homeowner and a few of his church friends — modest structures that lost shingles and suffered water damage but stand largely untouched overlooking the wreckage of buildings that were shredded and ripped from their foundations.

“We have evidence that we can construct affordable housing that is resilient,” said Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting property from disasters.

After Hurricane Andrew, which hit Florida in 1992, the state instituted a stricter building code in the early 2000s that required new buildings to use tougher nails and have more puncture-resistant walls, among other changes. But industry experts say that homeowners can go further in strengthening their homes without spending tens of thousands of dollars.

“Often the difference between a roof that stays on and one that flies off is the connection method,” Chapman-Henderson said. “A handful of additional nails can mean the difference.

As the storm barreled down on the Panhandle coast last week, Christina Harding decided to hunker down with her partner and three children in the home they have lived in for two years.

They nervously watched as Michael’s ferocious winds ripped apart the trailer park across the street, hurling huge sections of it at their house, including several trash cans and pieces of the trailers’ roofs.

“Please don’t let it hit us,” Harding prayed.

Theirs was one of the five houses recently erected in the neighborhood by Habitat for Humanity, a global nonprofit organization that builds affordable homes. Harding, an office manager for a loan company, had worked alongside the builders, investing her own sweat equity to construct the house 1.5 miles from the bay. It was topped by a metal roof, but she had no idea how the house would fare in a storm.

When the winds died down, one of Harding’s daughters, who was away, was panic-stricken when she failed repeatedly to reach her mother by phone. Then she saw aerial photos of Panama City.

“When I saw those five metal roofs I knew the houses were good and you guys were good,” Harding said her daughter told her.

In all, the five Habitat houses lost some siding, an AC unit and one window.

“It’s just amazing,” Harding said.

Habitat for Humanity developed a reputation for creating storm-resistant structures after Hurricane Andrew. Its houses were built beyond code with hurricane ties, thicker lumber, windstorm plywood and metal roofs.

Harding’s home was built to what is known as “Fortified Gold” by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), a nonprofit, independent research organization that runs a program called Fortified a set of voluntary building standards “that go beyond code to help harden homes against Mother Nature.”

They work closely with roofers, builders and nonprofits groups to erect homes with wind protections that strengthen the roof, with roof-to-wall attachments and stronger windows and doors.

Roy Wright, president and CEO of IBHS, said a critical issue is “to make sure the edge of roof will be able to withstand the wind so the roof won’t pop off.”

This can be done through special nails and metal attachments between the roof and the walls, he said.

“Homeowners have to demand that their homes are rebuilt in a strong way. There are a lot of shady actors who chase these storms and take advantage of people,” Wright said. “This is not something that costs tens of thousands of dollars, this is within reach of anyone to fortify their roof, windows and doors. Homeowners just have to be armed with the right questions.”

While not cheap, the cost of fortifying a house against hurricane-force winds is not as unaffordable as many homeowners think, he said. He said retrofitting a roof is about $1,000 for a 2,000-square-foot roof, the average size in the United States. When building a house from scratch, it could cost as little as 3 percent to 5 percent more “to harden the house, fortify the roof, windows and doors and tie the house together tightly from top to bottom” in some areas of the country, he said.

Hurricane-proofing also helps protect structures from projectiles, which can breach windows and doors and create upward pressure on the roof. Hurricane proofing should have shutters for all openings to prevent that, and the strongest protections include what is essentially bulletproof glass.

Garrett W. Walton, CEO of Rebuild Northwest Florida, a nonprofit organization launched in the wake of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, has helped 14,000 homeowners in the Pensacola region to fortify homes built before Florida’s statewide building codes came into effect.

The group, which uses funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, puts the cost of bringing a house up to statewide standards at $9,200.

The benefits, the group says, include having a safer home as well as potential discounts on insurance and less likelihood of being displaced. He said the homes were tested in tornadoes and fared very well.

While homes built before World War II tend to do well in storms, those built during the postwar baby boom period were constructed quickly and cheaply, leaving many homes vulnerable, Walton said.

In addition, those strong building codes put into place in 2001 did have exceptions, according to Chapman-Henderson, including the provision for the Panhandle, which was in place during the building boom of the early 2000s. In the Panhandle, the full code applied only to a one-mile strip along the coast, leaving houses built during that period further inland vulnerable to high winds.

Three years ago, Paul Jackson built a vacation home one block from the waterfront in Mexico Beach. He knew to expect that extra hurricane protection would amount to some 7 percent to 10 percent of construction costs. He said he invested closer to 15 percent of his $400,000 cost on added investments in insulated-concrete-form walls, instead of traditional wood construction.

But he also calculated that, even with those higher upfront costs, he would break even in six years, because of lower insurance rates and utility bills — fortified homes often have stronger windows that don’t leak air-conditioning, for instance.

And there was, of course, the incalculable savings in worry. He built to the IBHS Fortified Gold program.

Jackson said the door of his home was battered in by a piling that had ripped free from another home or dock. The house took in about three feet of water. But while his neighbors will have to start from scratch, he just has to replace cabinets, furniture and drywall.

About 50 miles inland, Jim Wise built his Blountstown house himself, with help from 10 or 12 members of his church, who set the framework and trusses, and a few drywall and plumbing contractors. He said the house was strapped down to the concrete floor — “That’s code. We wouldn’t skimp on that.” — and he followed professional advice to use extra nails and hurricane clips to attach the roof.

“It pays not to cut that stuff short,” said Wise, a former owner of several furniture stores.

The house survived five hours of nonstop wind and rain, Wise said. Four trees fell on his workshop, and the greenhouse lost a lot of plastic and fiberglass, but other than some damaged trim, the house weathered the storm just fine.

Following the state building codes alone can help, but it wasn’t a foolproof solution for Debbi and Jim Prantl.

When they saw their dream beachfront house on aerial footage on the news it had been torn from its pilings at least 12-feet tall and pushed entirely across U.S. Route 98. It was nearly intact except for one key detail.

“It used to be a four-story house,” Debbi Prantl said. “What you see here at ground level is the third floor and up there is the fourth floor. The second floor is that [rubble] underneath. We have no idea where the first floor went.”

But the hurricane-rated glass in what remains of the house was intact, Jim Prantl noted. The contents of the house were jumbled but remained.

“We had minimal flood insurance because we never imagined anything but wind damage,” Debbi Prantl said. “I don’t know what we do now. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet.”

In tiny Greensboro, Fla., many houses suffered, and the power is still out six days after Michael made landfall 80 miles away. But at least one house had no damage whatsoever — the Dezell House, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Built between 1912 and 1919 of cypress and yellow heart pine by the owner of a sawmill, the house is almost entirely original. The West Gadsden Historical Society re-shingled the roof five years ago, but the roof structure is unchanged, said Jane Clark, vice president of the society.

Not a drop of water infiltrated the Arts and Crafts, prairie-style home, which is unusual in the area because it was not elevated. James Dezell, who lived in Chicago and southwest Missouri after the Civil War, later became Greensboro’s first mayor.

“Nothing in the house, nothing, has been structurally modified in any way,” Clark said. “It is a true testimony to how things were built.”

Sellers and Wax-Thibodeaux reported from Washington. Julie Tate in Washington contributed to this report.

Hurricane Michael May Have Exposed Weak Spot in Florida’s Tough Building Code

By Associated Press

24 hours ago

As people are beginning to rebuild in Mexico Beach, and along the Florida Panhandle, we strongly encourage them to look at the FORTIFIED program.  If you have any questions please call us at 1-888-964-8776.

At a Glance

  • Hurricane Michael may have exposed a weak spot in Florida’s tough building code.
  • The state code’s requirements for wind resistance varies by location, dropping significantly in northern Florida.
  • Florida’s standards, considered the toughest in the nation, may need to be boosted even further.

There was a time when the trees in Florida’s Panhandle would be a factor in saving the region from a devastating hurricane strike, acting as a natural barrier to stifle ravaging winds.

The acres of forest was part of the reason tighter building codes, which are mandatory in areas like South Florida, weren’t put in place for the Panhandle until just 11 years ago.

And it may be a painful lesson for area residents now that Hurricane Michael has ravaged the region, leaving sustained damage from the coast inland all the way to the Georgia border.

“We’re learning painfully that we shouldn’t be doing those kinds of exemptions,” said Don Brown, a former legislator from the Panhandle who now sits on the Florida Building Commission. “We are vulnerable as any other part of the state. There was this whole notion that the trees were going to help us, take the wind out of the storm. Those trees become projectiles and flying objects.”

Hurricane Andrew a generation ago razed Florida’s most-populated areas with winds up to 165 mph, damaging or blowing apart over 125,000 homes and obliterating almost all mobile homes in its path.

The acres of flattened homes showed how contractors cut corners amid the patchwork of codes Florida had at the time. For example, flimsy particle board was used under roofs instead of sturdier plywood, and staples were used instead of roofing nails.

Since 2001, structures statewide must be built to withstand winds of 111 mph and up; the Miami area is considered a “high-velocity hurricane zone” with much higher standards, requiring many structures to withstand hurricane winds in excess of 170 mph.

Though Michael was packing winds as high as 155 mph, any boost in the level of safety requirements for builders helps a home avoid disintegrating in a hurricane.

Tom Lee, a homebuilder and legislator, says past hurricanes have shown time and time again that the stricter codes help. He said during past hurricanes he looked at the damage by plane and could tell if a home was built before the new code.

“The structural integrity of our housing stock is leaps and bounds beyond what it was,” said Lee.

The codes call for shatterproof windows, fortified roofs and reinforced concrete pillars, among other specifications. But it wasn’t until 2007 that homes built in the Panhandle more than one mile from shore were required to follow the higher standards. And Hurricane Michael pummeled the region with devastating winds from the sea all the way into Georgia, destroying buildings more than 70 miles from the shoreline.

Gov. Rick Scott said it may be time for Florida to boost its standards — considered the toughest in the nation— even further.

“After every event, you always go back and look what you can do better,” Scott said. “After Andrew, the codes changed dramatically in our state. Every time something like this happens, you have to say to yourself, ‘Is there something we can do better?’”

Mexico Beach, the Gulf Coast town destroyed by Michael, lacked a lot of new or retrofitted construction, said Craig Fugate, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a former emergency management chief for the state of Florida. The small seaside community had a lot of older mobile homes and low-income year-round residents working in the commercial fishing and service industries.

“Quiet, idyllic, what I call ‘Old Florida,’” Fugate said. “This is not a bunch of high rises or brand new developments.”

Bill Herrle, who owned a house near the shoreline in Mexico Beach until it was destroyed by the storm, said he wasn’t sure it made a difference when the homes there were built. He said the storm took out his house built in the mid-80s as well as newer buildings put up recently.

“It wiped out both the older and newer homes. It looks like my entire street is razed,” said Herrle, who was not in Mexico Beach during the storm.

David Prevatt, an associate professor of civil and coastal engineering at the University of Florida, said in an email Thursday that drone footage of the devastation in Mexico Beach showed structural damage to roofs and exterior walls, and damaged rafters and trusses, “indicating the strength of the wind that caused those failures.”

Prevatt noted the damage could have occurred at wind speeds lower than the 155 mph that the National Hurricane Center reported at Michael’s landfall. That is, the homes could have been peeling apart before the eye and the hurricane’s strongest core winds came ashore.

Prevatt was preparing to lead a team to assess the damage. He said engineers will be asking how old the destroyed and damaged buildings were and under what version of the Florida building codes they were built. They also will be looking at the differences between the structures that survived and those that did not.

Florida Panhandle building codes lagged behind rest of state

The building codes are the lowest standard of acceptable construction for homes. When local building inspectors do not fully enforce the minimum standards then destruction of homes is more likely. This is why building to the Insurance institute for Business And Home Safety FORTIFIED For Homes standards are so important. This provides an independent third party inspection of the most critical structural elements,  to improve the likelihood that a home will not only be standing but will be livable after a major event. The cost to add this to a home in Florida is generally less than $3000.000 but is insignificant in terms of the amount of damage reduction realized after a wind storm event. For more information visit www.disaster-smart.com and call us if you have any questions at 888-964-8776.

— It was once argued that the trees would help save Florida’s Panhandle from the fury of a hurricane, as the acres of forests in the region would provide a natural barrier to savage winds that accompany the deadly storms.

It’s part of the reason that tighter building codes — mandatory in places such as South Florida — were not put in place for most of this region until just 11 years ago.

And it may be a painful lesson for area residents now that Hurricane Michael has ravaged the region, leaving sustained damage from the coast inland all the way to the Georgia border.

“We’re learning painfully that we shouldn’t be doing those kinds of exemptions,” said Don Brown, a former legislator from the Panhandle who now sits on the Florida Building Commission. “We are vulnerable as any other part of the state. There was this whole notion that the trees were going to help us, take the wind out of the storm. Those trees become projectiles and flying objects.”

Hurricane Andrew a generation ago razed Florida’s most-populated areas with winds up to 165 mph (265 kph), damaging or blowing apart over 125,000 homes and obliterating almost all mobile homes in its path.

The acres of flattened homes showed how contractors cut corners amid the patchwork of codes Florida had at the time. For example, flimsy particle board was used under roofs instead of sturdier plywood, and staples were used instead of roofing nails.

Since 2001, structures statewide must be built to withstand winds of 111 mph (178 kph) and up; the Miami area is considered a “high velocity hurricane zone” with much higher standards, requiring many structures to withstand hurricane winds in excess of 170 mph (273 kph).

Though Michael was packing winds as high as 155 mph, any boost in the level of safety requirements for builders helps a home avoid disintegrating in a hurricane.

Tom Lee, a homebuilder and legislator, says past hurricanes have shown time and time again that the stricter codes help. He said during past hurricanes he looked at the damage by plane and could tell if a home was built before the new code.

“The structural integrity of our housing stock is leaps and bounds beyond what it was,” said Lee.

The codes call for shatterproof windows, fortified roofs and reinforced concrete pillars, among other specifications. But it wasn’t until 2007 that homes built in the Panhandle more than one mile from shore were required to follow the higher standards. And Hurricane Michael pummeled the region with devastating winds from the sea all the way into Georgia, destroying buildings more than 70 miles from the shoreline.

Gov. Rick Scott said it may be time for Florida to boost its standards — considered the toughest in the nation— even further.

“After every event, you always go back and look what you can do better,” Scott said. “After Andrew, the codes changed dramatically in our state. Every time something like this happens, you have to say to yourself, ‘Is there something we can do better?'”

Mexico Beach, the Gulf Coast town destroyed by Michael, lacked a lot of new or retrofitted construction, said Craig Fugate, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a former emergency management chief for the state of Florida. The small seaside community had a lot of older mobile homes and low-income year-round residents working in the commercial fishing and service industries.

“Quiet, idyllic, what I call ‘Old Florida,'” Fugate said. “This is not a bunch of high rises or brand new developments.”

Bill Herrle, who owned a house near the shoreline in Mexico Beach until it was destroyed by the storm, said he wasn’t sure it made a difference when the homes there were built. He said the storm took out his house built in the mid-80s as well as newer buildings put up recently.

“It wiped out both the older and newer homes. It looks like my entire street is razed,” said Herrle, who was not in Mexico Beach during the storm.

David Prevatt, an associate professor of civil and coastal engineering at the University of Florida, said in an email Thursday that drone footage of the devastation in Mexico Beach showed structural damage to roofs and exterior walls, and damaged rafters and trusses, “indicating the strength of the wind that caused those failures.”

Prevatt noted the damage could have occurred at wind speeds lower than the 155 mph (250 kph) that the National Hurricane Center reported at Michael’s landfall. That is, the homes could have been peeling apart before the eye and the hurricane’s strongest core winds came ashore.

Prevatt was preparing to lead a team to assess the damage. He said engineers will be asking how old the destroyed and damaged buildings were and under what version of the Florida building codes they were built. They also will be looking at the differences between the structures that survived and those that did not.

___

Associated Press reporter Jennifer Kay contributed to this story from Miami.

Build Better with Building Codes, and Beyond

Here is a very informative piece on building codes and how they are supposed to protect you and your community.  But remember building codes specify the minimum requirements to adequately safeguard the health, safety and welfare of occupants.  Give us a call at (888) 964-8776 and let us share with you the FORTIFIED Home program which will give you and your family piece of mind during major storm events.

A structure that is not built to code can be a danger to everyone in the community, most importantly your family. But, first what exactly are building codes?

Building codes are adopted to keep those who inhabit any structure safe. Additionally, building to current codes can protect your largest investment; your home. A structure that is not built to code can be a danger to everyone in the community, most importantly your family. But, first what exactly are building codes? According to FEMA, “Building codes are sets of regulations governing the design, construction, alteration and maintenance of structures. They specify the minimum requirements to adequately safeguard the health, safety and welfare of building occupants.” In other words, building codes are the minimum requirement to protect the people living in the home.

There are several standardized building codes maintained by the International Code Council (ICC). We’ll focus on those most familiar to home and business owners. The first is International Building Code (IBC), which is used for almost any type of new building. Next, the International Residential Code (IRC), applies to new one and two-family dwellings and townhouses no more than three stories in height. Finally, the International Existing Building Code (IEBC) applies to repairs, additions, or changes in occupancy made to an existing structure. You can find the most up-to-date Building Codes on the International Code Council website. You can find your community’s building codes by contacting your local building and/or planning department. These may be found on your community’s website on the building and/or planning department page.

There are building standards that go above and beyond the minimum, standard code. Again, local building codes are the minimum to protect those living in the house so you have time to escape a disaster. However, these codes are not meant to protect all your possessions inside of the home and sometimes are not enough to prevent major home damage from particularly powerful disasters. A good “code-plus” option is FORTIFIED Home™, which safeguards your home investment and everything in it. FORTIFIED is proven to prevent up to 50% of the damage loss sustained during hurricanes, hail storms and from high winds.

Standard codes are adopted by community jurisdictions every 6 years on average, however many areas may not enforce codes. So making sure your home is up to code may fall on you as a homeowner. Additionally, codes are updated, but homes may not be constantly rebuilt to those new standards. So it is very possible that a home adheres to an outdated building code instead of the most recent version.To know which building code is currently enforced within your community, check with local code or planning department officials.

Posted on Thursday, September 6th 2018