Posted by: realtormarkpalace | June 11, 2012

IBHS study says Fla., Va. have best building codes

TAMPA, Fla. – June 11, 2012 – Florida and Virginia ranked highest in a new comparison study that examined residential building codes and enforcement systems in the most hurricane-prone states.

The two states scored 95 out of 100 possible points in the survey conducted by the Tampa-based Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). Florida and Virginia got top marks because of strong statewide residential building codes, plus an effective regulation and enforcement process, according to the report.

The study, “Rating the States: An Assessment of Residential Building Code and Enforcement Systems for Life Safety and Property Protection in Hurricane-Prone Regions,” details how states can improve their building code systems in order to better protect their citizens, as well as how citizens can understand the need for stronger building codes.

Of the 18 states along the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico analyzed in the study, Mississippi was at the bottom of the list. Mississippi doesn’t have a statewide building code.

“Building codes are minimum building performance standards that are designed to reduce deaths, injuries and property damage caused by severe weather,” said Julie Rochman, IBHS president and CEO. “Homes that are built using stronger building codes should be less vulnerable to the effects of severe weather events, which should make property damage less likely and less intense.”

In the case of high-wind events, such as hurricanes, studies show that modern building codes can make a difference in reducing the amount of storm-related damage. When Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida in 1992 as a Category 5 storm it left behind a trail of devastation totaling more than $24.5 billion (in 2011 dollars) in insured damage, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

A study done by IBHS, the University of Florida and the FEMA Mitigation Assessment Team following Hurricane Charley, which struck Florida in 2004, found that modern building codes reduced the severity of losses by 42 percent and loss frequency by 60 percent.

However, Rochman said just having a modern building code is not enough.

“Good building codes have little value if they are not well-enforced,” she said. “Independent studies of damage following Hurricane Andrew and the 1994 Northridge Earthquake in California revealed that lax code enforcement needlessly increased total damage. Plan reviewers and building inspectors are vital to the success of building codes.”

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

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