Natural disasters disrupt hundreds of thousands of lives per year and have lasting effects 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, reduce property damage and costs of reconstruction, as well as insurance claim and disaster assistance payouts.
“The increase in natural disasters in recent years has placed a spotlight on ensuring the nation's housing stock is resilient — not just by reducing the impacts that natural disasters can have on a home, but looking at the whole structure to ensure it provides a sustainable, durable and healthy home that families can rely on for generations,” noted J. Don Overton of Sustainable Construction, who has been serving as co-chair of NAHB’s Resiliency Working Group.
To date, regulatory 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.
“Resiliency, however, continues to be used as a catchall to address many housing-related issues, and it's critical that the impact on the housing industry be taken into account as we continue to explore avenues to creating safe, affordable homes for all,” Overton added.
Resiliency plans, policies and programs — existing as well as those under development — will significantly impact how and where new homes and communities are built. They will also greatly influence how existing structures and cities are re-engineered, rebuilt and/or remodeled.
Building code requirements are generally based on protecting against natural disasters such as wind, snow and earthquake events. Recent research and post-storm surveys suggest 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.
The likelihood of the occurrence of these types of events and others — including wildfires, volcanic eruptions and severe droughts — is location-dependent. Factors that influence the decision to include above-code, voluntary resilient strategies in a home include hazard risk, current local codes, consumer demand, return on investment and weighing any additional construction costs against the potential costs to repair/rebuild.
Natural disasters can strike at any time, often causing severe damages to homes and small businesses that can leave lasting impacts for months or years after an event. NAHB is committed to helping those communities by providing resources and education, and advocating on behalf of remodelers, builders and HBAs for planning and recovery solutions that encourage greater resiliency.
To help building professionals stay current, NAHB has created a centralized hub of information related to resilient building on