Saturday, November 3, 2012

After Hurricane Sandy, Rebuilders Take Notice

I have thoughts regarding Hurricane Sandy and the rebuilding efforts that were seemingly underway before the storm had run its course.
I love building and rebuilding, but folks need to keep some things in mind before they head down the road of replacing what was lost and I'm talking to local leaders and taxpayers as well as home owners or potential rehabbers.
It will cost more in every way to replace what was destroyed by the storm.  I’m not merely talking about inflation and the fact that a 2x4x8 bought in 2012 will be more than one purchased decades ago, I’m speaking of building standards.  Hurricanes have taught us a great deal about the power of these storms and with the awareness that they seem to be getting more severe, those standards are only going to become more stringent.  And, stricter building codes will mean higher costs.  Someone rebuilding or extensively renovating after Hurricane Sandy will need to be mindful of this from the start.
Hurricane Clip
When we renovate a home we leave it better than when it was built 30, 50, or 70 years ago.  This is not just a professional standard that we set for ourselves; this is what’s required from the building industry, local building officials, and/or the insurance industry.  For example, we install Hurricane Clips where the roof structure meets the walls and install metal strapping at exterior wall openings and where the foundation meets the carpentry.  For us, this change happened as a result of Hurricanes Andrew and Hugo.    
This is the way things will be rebuilt on the East Coast in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  They won’t be the same, they will be better.  It will make the beach homes and cottages cost more to replace because the storms are getting stronger and we know how to design, engineer, and build them better from the start.  There’s no sense in building something that’s going to blow away next year or in the next storm. 
Hurricane Strapping to tie Foundation into Wood Framing
In addition to this, the homes that survived and the homes that will be rebuilt will cost more to insure.  We live in the Carolinas, many states away from the wrath of Hurricane Katrina, but after that disaster our home insurance rates went up noticeably and the insurance companies explained that the increase was due in part to our county being considered as part of the coastal region.  We didn’t like it, but we took it on the chin and rationalized that its part of the price we pay for being less than an hour from the beach.  However, we don’t live on the beach and it some ways it rubs us the wrong way because we must have home insurance... so what are you going to do, but write the check and mail it in.   
As I've already said, I get pretty jazzed up about every part of new construction and renovations, but as the Post-Sandy rebuilding efforts commence, the unanticipated costs need to be considered now, not later.
See The Hurricane House  (Jan. 3, 2012)


  1. I’m sorry about what happened to your homes and the way the insurance company is treating your neighborhood! I know this is a difficult time for you, but you have to look for greener pastures. If you can bring out a few more bucks, why not replace the roof instead of patching it with repairs – which is in fact costly.

    Elizabeth Hoffnung

  2. Do you think that what the insurance company did was fair? It's great that you guys are far away from the point where the damage was fatal. But those people who were dealt the most out of it were very unfortunate.

    Kermit Lukacs

  3. I totally agree with Elizabeth here that totally replacing a severely damaged roof would be a good choice. Having it fixed will give you recurring problems that will surely be a pain. I also had my roof completely torn off, so when I had it replaced, I made sure that the roofing company reinforced it to withstand harsh weather conditions.

    Joanne Barragan