In the wake of disaster: a call for better housing
Hurricane Ian ravaged Florida and the Southern U.S. on September 28, 2022. Many lost their lives, and thousands who were displaced returned to devastated homes and communities.
Thankfully, we’ve seen people step up and provide humanitarian aid. Now, we need to band together and prepare for future disasters.
Ian caused billions of dollars of property damage, worsening Florida’s tenuous housing climate. Now, Floridians confront a lack of affordable housing, a need for better-built houses, and a volatile insurance market.
As many struggle to find affordable housing, losing dozens of homes is a crippling blow to the market. A recent Washington Post article mentions an incredible “deficit of 500,000 homes” in Florida alone. Unfortunately, this lack of affordable housing permeates the entire country.
Florida is known for strict building codes, with standards more rigorous than most of the country. After Ian, the New York Times interviewed a civil engineering professor for his view on home performance relative to code. They found that while homes built under newer codes typically perform better, those built under old guidelines suffer. As our understanding of building science expands, updated codes create safer, more structurally-sound buildings. As a reminder, codes are the minimum, so contractors recommend going above and beyond in high-risk areas like Florida.
To top it off, homeowners must also deal with the headache of insurance. According to an NPR interview, Florida suffers from a uniquely challenging insurance environment. Of course, the proximity to the coast complicates things, but Florida homeowners “are paying the highest average premium in the U.S. right now, almost triple the U.S. average.” This absurdity is further complicated by “rampant roof replacement claim schemes,” where contractors convince homeowners to replace a perfectly good roof.
Roofing is a vital part of a home’s resistance to high winds, making it a good target for con artists. People are legitimately concerned about a strong roof, and they should be. On hurricanes and roofing, Classic Metal Roofing president Todd Miller said, “Everyone wants a highly wind-resistant roof system. But there are diminishing returns on older or poorly built homes. What sense does it make to have a roof system that can withstand 200 mph winds when the structure underneath will shift under 110 mph winds?”
Building codes need an update, and older homes need renovation to keep up. Extreme weather will continue and likely worsen. This disaster is a chance to rebuild homes with better practices for underserved demographics. We must continue to improve building codes, create revolutionary solutions for new, resilient homes, and focus on better housing for everyone.
Let us know if we can help “disaster” ready your home, no matter your climate.