Builders and Consumers Weigh in on Resiliency of New Homes

Codes and Standards
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The increasing number of significant natural disasters occurring over the past few years, along with ongoing concerns regarding the effects of climate change, have prompted discussions at every level of government on actions to increase the resiliency of communities, infrastructure and buildings. Current resiliency plans, policies and programs — and those under consideration — have the potential to significantly impact how and where new housing can be constructed and greatly reduce housing affordability. As part of NAHB’s efforts to address these challenges, it recently commissioned the Home Innovation Research Labs to conduct two surveys: a national survey of home builder interest in resilience and a national survey of consumer interest in resilience.

Builders Most Likely to Address Wind Resistance

Builders were asked about the mandatory or voluntary use of resilient construction practices and whether they had a project in the last five years that qualified for a public or private incentive for mitigation. The practices most builders indicated they were either already required to follow or use voluntarily on their homes included:
  • Flash and seal all openings
  • Use hurricane clips or straps
  • Build more than 1 foot above base flood elevations
  • Use pan flashing at windows
  • Brace gable end walls or dormers to increase wind resistance
In general, builders were more likely to voluntarily consider practices to increase the wind resistance of homes and least likely to consider practices to increase resistance to earthquakes and wildfires. Many builders in the West noted they used fire-resistant materials or landscaping practices to reduce damage to their homes from wildfires. Nearly half of builders had not completed a project in the last five years that was eligible for a mitigation incentive. Of those builders who did have eligible projects, 19% used a private retrofit grant program, 14% had projects eligible for FEMA grants, and 12% had projects eligible for state-mandated insurance discounts.

Consumers Unaware of Risks, Hesitant to Pay More

Most consumers surveyed were not aware of the significant natural hazards in their state. Only a quarter to a third of consumers perceived their communities as being at risk of earthquakes, floods, wildfires or hurricanes. Snow was the highest perceived risk. A strong majority of consumers — 60% — believed new homes built to modern codes are more resilient than older homes. In states at high risk of earthquakes or hurricanes, two-thirds of consumers believed newer homes built to recent codes are more resilient. Almost half of consumers said they were not willing to pay more to increase the resistance of a new home in their community to natural hazards. The median amount consumers were willing to pay for more resilient construction ranged from $0 more for snow to $1,000 for flood and tornadoes. For more information about the surveys or other NAHB research on building codes and standards, contact Gary Ehrlich at 800-368-5242 x8545.

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