The number of significant natural disasters occurring over the past few years, coupled with ongoing concerns over the effects of changing weather patterns and climate change have increased awareness of and raised concerns about the resilience of buildings. Although most states and localities are governed by building regulations that are designed to protect homes and their occupants from severe weather events and hazards, some argue that more should be done. But those additional efforts come at costs that not only can curtail homeownership and significantly hinder housing affordability, but also can severely impact state and local economies. This is because these policies greatly influence how existing structures and cities are re-engineered, rebuilt and/or remodeled and impact how and where new homes and communities are built.
NAHB is fully supportive of the continuing efforts to improve the nation’s resiliency and capacity to respond to catastrophic disasters but cautions that care must be taken to ensure these efforts are comprehensive, flexible, focused on highest risk areas and structures, and that solutions are cost effective for all stakeholders.
NAHB supports a comprehensive approach to addressing natural disasters and their effects on the entire housing stock of the United States while reducing the costs associated with natural disasters.
NAHB supports resiliency efforts and initiatives focused on implementing cost-effective, market-driven solutions that encourage greater resiliency in the nation’s housing stock — while preserving housing affordability and maintaining the availability of land.
These solutions should focus on the highest risk areas, determine the likely impacts from events, be based on sound scientific data, rely on a clear methodology, and consider the financial and administrative impact of any new regulations and requirements.
Improving the ability of state and local governments and community organizations to plan for, prepare for, and respond to natural disasters is an important part of a resiliency strategy. This includes maintaining local control over community planning and land use decisions.
These approaches should be developed with input from the home building industry, who is greatly affected by both the impacts of natural disasters and the policies developed to mitigate damages and promote economic recovery.
Read NAHB’s Resiliency policy here.
Why it Matters
Natural disasters disrupt hundreds of thousands of lives per year. Each disaster has lasting effects, both on people and property. In an effort to reduce the impacts associated with these events, many federal, state, and local governments have or are considering adopting policies and programs to increase community resilience; eliminate property damage from wind, water, fire, seismic and other hazards; reduce the payout of insurance claims and disaster assistance; and further reduce the costs of reconstruction. To date, these actions have included ordinances that disallow new construction in certain areas, laws establishing mandatory hazard mitigation requirements, and the adoption of more stringent building codes, among others.
Although increasing the nation’s resiliency is an important undertaking, many of the design and construction measures typically suggested are inflexible, overly protective, fail to target areas of highest risk, and/or reduce the availability of buildable land. Equally problematic, most have significant cost implications, which will have a detrimental impact on housing affordability in many areas of the country.