Homes built in coastal areas of Florida after the implementation of a building code that requires certain impact-protection provisions suffer 64 percent less hurricane damage than homes built before, writes Austin College economics professor Kevin Simmons, a specialist in natural hazards.
Simmons conducted a study with Jeffrey Czajkowski of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Risk Center and James Done of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Using realized insured loss data across 10 years from more than 1 million homes and seven landfalling hurricanes, the study highlights the wisdom of requiring construction methods based on wind engineering principles.
Although last year’s hurricanes broke records when Hurricane Irma struck, the stronger codes limited wind damage to homes built to the newer code.
Building resilient homes adds expense, however, and impact-protection provisions are the costliest part of the code. As a result, communities that want to protect affordability sometimes push back on anything that increases the cost of home construction.
But Simmons’ research shows that the code is cost-effective in the long-run, bringing a statewide benefit-to-cost ratio of $6 in reduced damage for every $1 in increased cost.
Although cost effectiveness is highest in the interior of the state, coastal communities that must implement more expensive impact protection still show strong benefit-to-cost ratios.
Source: Washington Post (10/16/18) Simmons, Kevin
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