Building Codes: A Smart Investment
How do we best prepare residential and commercial structures for the next major catastrophe? The answers may lie in one of the oldest tools of the trade—the adoption and effective enforcement of modern building codes. Today, code adoption and enforcement practices vary widely from community to community, even within individual states. During the 20 years that BCEGS has been in place, the concept of resilient communities has gained much greater awareness and momentum. Programs at the national level down to the smallest communities participating in BCEGS are embracing resiliency and seeking solutions to ensure social and financial stability into the future.
“Cost-effective building codes help ensure that new homes are constructed to be more energy efficient and safer than ever. We’re proud of our work with ICC. Our nation’s model building code system is an important way to maintain new housing as an excellent investment.”
- Ed Brady, NAHB Chair
WEEK FOUR // May 23–29, 2016
The biggest investment most people will ever make is when they buy a home.
Homes represent security, a place where people will live, raise their families, and share life with others. Whether you own or rent a home, following the building codes during construction or remodeling can help protect your health and safety, and your investment as well.
The building codes include research from experts that help ensure every phase of the construction process is done correctly. In addition to helping make your home safe, the building codes can also help make your home more energy efficient, use less water, and conserve resources.
If your construction project does not comply with the codes adopted by your community, the value of your investment could be reduced. Property insurers may not cover work done without permits and inspections. If you decide to sell a home or building that has had modifications without a permit, you may be required to tear down the addition, leave it unoccupied, or make costly repairs.
A property owner who can show that code requirements were strictly and consistently met––as demonstrated by a code official’s carefully maintained records––has a strong ally if something happens to trigger a potentially destructive lawsuit. Your permit also allows the code official to protect the public by reducing the potential hazards of unsafe construction and ensuring public health, safety, and welfare. By following code guidelines, the completed project will meet minimum standards of safety and will be less likely to cause injury to you, your family, your friends, or future owners, plus you’ll benefit from the best energy efficiency construction techniques that will continue to pay you back for the life of your home.
Invest wisely in your home or remodeling project. It’s a smart investment to build and remodel your home to the latest codes.
Cost Implications in Areas Subject to Natural Hazards
While hazard mitigation can increase the costs of building in a hazard-prone area, benefits such as potential reductions in insurance premiums and reduced repair time following a natural disaster may offset the higher costs. In the floodplain, the latest building codes incorporate higher standards that reduce risk and can reduce insurance premiums. Examples in FEMA’s Coastal Construction Manual show that adding one foot of freeboard above the base flood elevation can reduce annual flood insurance premiums by approximately 20-45%.
Insurance should never be viewed as an alternative to damage prevention, but hazard insurance to offset potential financial exposure is an important consideration and sometimes a requirement for homeowners in areas subject to natural hazards. Flood insurance is offered through the NFIP in participating communities and is separate from homeowners insurance. Wind insurance coverage is generally part of a homeowners insurance policy, but private companies offer last resort insurance to homeowners in coastal areas in some states. Earthquake insurance is an addition to a regular homeowners insurance policy.