Building Resilience: Research

Contact: Gary Ehrlich
Director, Construction Codes & Standards
(202) 266-8545

Building resilience and its value can be difficult to quantify. Building code requirements are generally based on protecting against natural disasters — wind, snow and earthquake events that may occur rarely or not at all during the life of a home.

Evidence suggests homes and multifamily buildings constructed to modern codes — defined as any edition of the International Residential Code® or International Building Code® — experience limited to no structural damage in hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and blizzards. Most damage occurs to roofing, siding and interior contents.

However, owners and tenants are often unwilling to pay for the higher construction costs incurred to provide the increased resilience represented by modern codes unless it is reflected in lower insurance rates, more favorable mortgage terms, tax credits for resilient construction, or other incentives.

Some academic studies have suggested resilient homes have a higher resale value. That may benefit a home owner down the road when they sell their home, but added value generally means added cost, which does not help the first-time or lower-income home buyer afford to purchase that home in the first place.

NAHB has created a centralized hub of the latest research on residential resilience exploring these issues:

NAHB Resilience Research Resources

Other Resilience Research Resources

  • External Resource

    FEMA Mitigation Assessment Team (MAT) Reports

    Reports of post-disaster field assessments conducted by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)-led teams. Many of the reports contain observations generally showing post-2000 construction built to the International Codes performs well when subject to earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and other natural hazards.

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  • External Resource

    Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves

    Extensive, multi-faceted report by the National Institute of Building Sciences’ (NIBS) Multi-Hazard Mitigation Committee assessing the benefit/cost ratios of various mitigation scenarios, including the adoption of modern building codes over legacy (1990s-era) codes, use of resilient “beyond-code” techniques, and retrofit of existing buildings.

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NAHB Disaster Response and Recovery Toolkit More resources and links for preparing for and responding to natural disasters in your community.