Over the last couple of months we've seen the destruction a hurricane can do to a home. As a native Bermudian that has experienced many hurricanes, I have to say, I never once felt threatened that our home would be destroyed during a storm. We always knew our homes could withstand high intensity winds. In hurricanes Harvey and Irma the older homes that were not built to the current standards were destroyed. The newer builds that were built to code survived.
Bermuda is well known for its white roofs and pastel color homes. Also for their infrastructure on how these homes are built. Building codes in Bermuda are very strict and homes must withstand wind speeds of up to 120mph. The typical home in Bermuda is no more than two stories high and made of concrete foundations, masonry walls and limestone slate roofs. These roofs also have another purpose of catching fresh rain water into tanks under these homes for drinking and other purposes.
Yes, building in Bermuda is more expensive, but at the same time that is offset by the fact that people on the island don't have to rebuild after every major event.
I wonder how much less these events would actually cost the industry if building codes in the coastal areas of the US and other Islands were similar to Bermuda's? We've seen over the years many upgrades (secondary modifiers) and changes to the US building codes in coastal areas. As part of my job, I look at exposure data within loss models (RMS/AIR). I probably see 60% or more of the construction class being wood framing within 0 to10 miles of the coast. I see this even with new builds. I know this is largely down to cost but as referenced earlier, is, rebuilding every ten years or so after an event really cost efficient?
Yes, the US is better prepared compared to most Islands and have put certain procedures in place, but is it enough? Is it time for policy makers to think about adopting more resilient building standards?
Linked here is an interesting article I read in USA today. At the core of the Florida dispute is a simple calculation: the tougher the building code, the more it costs to build a home.
Category: Climate/natural disasters: Floods/storms