Coastal Construction – Best Practices
With sea levels rising by some reports an inch per decade and the prediction of stronger hurricanes, today’s aging building stock is at risk. In addition to new construction we must learn from the past. The proliferation of coastal development begs for consistent and sustainable construction techniques.
A look at the numbers:
- More than 6.5 million homes along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts are at risk of storm surge inundation, representing nearly $1.5 trillion in total potential reconstruction costs.
- More than $986 billion of that risk is concentrated within 15 major metro areas, according to a report by property data and analytics firm CoreLogic. The five states with the highest total number of properties at risk include:
- Florida (2,488,277)
- Louisiana (738,165)
- New York (466,919)
- New Jersey (445,928)
- Texas (434,421)
- The five states with the highest value of reconstruction costs for homes at risk include:
- Florida ($490,403,653,377)
- New York ($182,474,294,695)
- Louisiana ($161,062,467,382)
- New Jersey ($134,194,963,314)
- Virginia ($92,001,482,217)
In my experience as a general contractor, property damage appraiser and flood plain manager I have seen the results of inferior construction. Even the building code is just the minimum. I have enjoyed being part of research to make for more hardened homes and businesses to help protect my neighbors, friends and family. To that end, I have found and would like to share with you a few programs that I feel are a great benefit to all of us together.
The first I would mention is from FEMA Building Sciences Bulleting P 55 Coastal Construction which I have been honored to serve in a small capacity in my work with Oakridge Labs on the capacity of uplift on shingles at the IIBHS facility in South Carolina.
In addition to the above I have got the opportunity to learn about the Fortified program where owners and contractors can learn and become certified in the construction of homes built to better standards that greatly increase the likelihood of survival in the event of a major storm. These include perils of both wind and flood.
Closer to home and a great success for my part of Florida is our Rebuild North West Florida. Rebuild has been extremely successful in this program mitigating residences with a number of measures to strengthen homes against wind damage. These include the addition of clips around the perimeter locking the top of the stud wall to the rafters. In addition they have methods of installing gable end bracing one of the most vulnerable to wind damage by ladder blocking into the structure at least 4 trusses. Craig Fugate FEMA administrator just celebrated the 10,000 successful use of this program that uses 75% FEMA money to 25% private money.