The month of May may be known for a lot of commemorative and festive occasions, but in the construction and home inspection world, it's also known for safety and the promotion of adhering to proper building codes for homes and structures.
In light of it being National Building Safety Month, the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety has launched an effort, focusing on the importance of modernizing building codes so that structures today are as physically sound as possible.
Julie Rochman, CEO and president of the IBHS, indicated that more rigorous building codes could very well better protect home and business owners, ensuring that their investments endure as limited damage as possible during environmental catastrophes.
"Severe weather events cause billions of dollars in property damage and economic losses every year," said Rochman. "The supplementary disaster aid is designed to incentivize states to do the right thing by adopting and enforcing strong building codes, which would help their citizens, businesses and communities during the recovery process following a disaster."
She added that making building codes more robust and in line with modern-day designs will ultimately save taxpayers a sizable amount of money over time by reducing costs resulting from weather-related incidents that adversely impact developments and communities.
Safe Building Code Incentive Act gaining traction
It appears as though legislators may be taking up this cause. Recently, the Safe Building Code Incentive Act was proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives, with Florida Rep. Mario Diaz Balart serving as its senior sponsor. A companion bill has also been introduced in the U.S. Senate.
Should these measures be passed and signed into law, the states that abide by the revised building codes would be eligible to receive an additional 4 percent in post-disaster financial assistance, IBHS notes, so long as they qualify. At least 12 states would qualify based on the building codes that have already been adopted there and many other may be able to through improvements made to their currently constituted building codes.
"By encouraging the adoption and enforcement of strong building codes through measures like the SBCIA, lawmakers can save lives, promote long-term fiscal stability, reduce public sector response and recovery costs, protect the environment, and create a more resilient society," said Rochman.
Though there's never any guarantee that a more rigorous building codes - and in so doing, stricter home inspection guidelines - will prevent a storm from being able to destroy a residence, they could at the very least make the damage less significant.
Oklahoma devastated by tornado
Property damage has been in the news quite a bit as of late, especially in light of the tornado that recently tore through five states in the Midwest, with some of the most destructive effects felt in Moore, Oklahoma. According to estimates, the twister was approximately 17 miles long and a mile-and-a-half wide. In addition, its impact was felt over 22 square miles, destroying an estimated 13,000 homes. Reports say that the twister was on the ground for 50 minutes before receding back into the atmosphere. Top wind gusts were clocked in excess of 200 mph, making it a Category 5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, of all the insured losses that occurred in the U.S. between 1992 and 2011, more than one-third of them stemmed from tornadic activity. The only environmental event that accounted for more of the total was hurricanes at 42 percent.