Alabama leads U.S. in largest number of FORTIFIED homes
As severe weather events increase in both frequency and severity, more states are looking for ways to make their coastal communities more resilient. Alabama is leading the way by building stronger, safer and more durable homes and businesses.
Builders like D.R. Horton in the Mobile/Baldwin County area are implementing the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s FORTIFIED Home™–Hurricane building standards. This will reduce storm damage for Alabama FORTIFIED homeowners so they can repair instead of rebuild, and require fewer government aid dollars for clean-up and reconstruction after storms.
“While we always strive to build homes to high structural standards, we are pleased to participate in the FORTIFIED Home program and to offer D.R. Horton customers in Mobile and Baldwin Counties FORTIFIED Gold-designated homes,” said Rachel DeQuattro, D.R. Horton’s City Manager for Baldwin County. “Owning a FORTIFIED Home not only provides homeowners with peace of mind knowing their home was independently inspected and received a designation from the program, but also provides insurance savings in the state of Alabama, enabling D.R. Horton homebuyers to save money long-term.”
FORTIFIED Home–Hurricane is a third-party verification program that uses a unique systems-based, holistic approach to create stronger, safer homes based on a set of superior building standards. IBHS’ FORTIFIED Home–Hurricane employs an incremental approach toward making new and existing homes more hurricane-resistant by offering three levels of designations—Bronze, Silver and Gold—so builders and contractors can work with homeowners to choose a desired level of protection that best suits their budgets and resilience goals. More than half of all FORTIFIED homes that have been designated to date are located in Alabama, and 90 percent of the upcoming Baldwin County Parade of Homes are FORTIFIED homes that will display a FORTIFIED Home™ Gold sign during the event with a FORTIFIED sign.
Also, a new independent study of homes in Baldwin and Mobile counties by the Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research at The University of Alabama found that implementing FORTIFIED construction standards not only makes homes more resistant to wind damage, but also increases the resale value. The study found that switching from a conventional construction standard to a FORTIFIED designation increases the value of a home by nearly 7 percent, holding all other variables constant.
“The Alabama Legislature, regulators, insurers, builders and coastal communities have been very creative in finding ways to make homes, businesses and communities more resilient in the face of more extreme weather events,” said Fred Malik, Director of IBHS’ FORTIFIED programs. “We are very proud to work with volume builders like D.R. Horton to offer the highest level of protection to a wide variety of their customers in Baldwin and Mobile Counties.”
In addition to new construction, such as that being done by D.R. Horton, FORTIFIED Home–Hurricane standards are available for retrofitting existing homes. To help alleviate the cost for homeowners at all income levels to retrofit their homes, the Alabama Department of Insurance is administering a new program called Strengthen Alabama Homes. The program will provide wind mitigation grants for homeowners retrofitting their homes using FORTIFIED Home–Hurricane standards.
Smart Home America, a grassroots nonprofit organization, which promotes improved building codes and stronger, sustainable building methods, has been instrumental in much of the progress Alabama has made in making its coastal communities more resilient. For example, in just six months during 2015, FORTIFIED grew 137 percent in Alabama, thanks in part to SHA’s work. The organization’s new awareness campaign, Don’t Goof When You Re-Roof, highlights the opportunity re-roofing presents for homeowners to save money on insurance and gain peace of mind by re-roofing to the Bronze level of FORTIFIED.
“If we can get the roof right, we can significantly reduce the damage to homes when severe weather strikes,” concluded Malik.
Visit fortifiedhome.org and sign up to learn more about FORTIFIED Home, future training opportunities, how to begin the designation process, how to find a FORTIFIED Evaluator, and other helpful resources.