As Hurricane Irma came and went, leaving a path of destruction in Southwest Florida, you might have heard an unconcerned neighbor mention, “Florida can handle a hurricane.” This is both true and false. While it is true that Florida’s infrastructure can handle a storm hit better than some parts of the country, we are not totally invincible. Here’s why newer homes built up to code are better at withstanding a hurricane.
Florida Building Code Regulations
Hurricane Andrew plummeted through Florida in 1992 leaving a catastrophe behind it. Roofs were blown off, floors flooded, homes were flattened, and in fact over 125,000 homes across Florida were damaged, and many even completely destroyed, by this Category 5 storm.
The impact of Hurricane Andrew was so devastating that a complete set of new regulations were implemented in order to protect home owners from intense floods, storm surges, and hurricane force winds. The code has evolved several times since the 2002 code required all doors and windows be protected against wind-borne debris and 110 MPH winds. Current codes in Southwest Florida require homes to be designed to withstand between 140 MPH to 160 MPH winds depending upon the proximity to the open water. The code called for (among other specific regulations):
- Stronger roofs
- Debris protection windows
- Reinforced concrete pillars
- Major structural and building upgrades
- Wind testing standards
- Better aluminum screen enclosures
These new regulations, while more costly in the building process, have saved homeowners hundreds of thousands of dollars in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
Who is Left Vulnerable?
FEMA reported that homes built after the new code regulations performed better in a hurricane than those built before. A separate report from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety found that owners of 2002 or later homes filed 60% fewer insurance claims and the severity of those claims was 42% lower.
Unfortunately, many homeowners whose homes were built prior to the new building codes, or were not built up to code, were left vulnerable to the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma. As we begin to rebuild the community, now is the time to ensure that your home or potential home was built up to the latest hurricane building codes.
What to Know When Buying a Home in Southwest Florida
As we begin to recover and rebuild our state, we must do so with quality building in mind. These regulations are in place for a reason, and that is to keep us safe. Hurricane Irma left sustainable damage to Florida, and unfortunately, many homes and buildings destroyed did not adhere to the strict building regulations that were put forth. Despite the destruction, what we did see were fortified homes with minimal damage, no flooding, and intact windows.
It is no accident that newer homes built up to code were able to withstand the effects of Hurricane Irma. We advise those who are looking to purchase a new home to please keep these regulations in mind. Frey and Son Homes is proud to say that we build our homes adhering to every building code and standard, with quality, to ensure your home is able to hold strong in a storm. To get started with our team, please call (239) 495-8200 or visit www.freyandson.com.