Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The House Is Gone, But The Molding Sure Was Pretty

The Gulf Coast Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) launched a "Rebuild Right" campaign to make lawmakers aware (yeah, right) of the critical nature of design specifications to ensure that new buildings are built to withstand future catastrophic storms.

People need to understand that upgrading design specifications and building standards will not keep a house from washing away in a major storm surge or prevent significant wind damage from a Cat 5 hurricant, but they can mitigate the severity and magnitude of lesser storms.

They also must realize that better building standards do come with a price tag. However, the added cost of more stringent building standards pales in comparison to cost of repairing the damage to non-conforming dwellings.

I can give you an example. Our next door neighbor originally built her house 35 years ago with a flat roof. Well, being that we have about 60 inches of rain annually, it leaked. So about 25 years ago she had a pitched roof added on top of the original flat roof. Unfortunately, the contractor did not secure the new roof framing to the first roof. It was simply held in place by it's own weight. Along comes Katrina and pushes the pitched roof into her back yard. Fortunately it didn't land in her side yard. My house is there.

If that contractor had spent about an extra $200 (today's prices) in anchoring the new roof, our neighbor would not be spending $50,000 plus to replace the roof (exceeding the current building code, BTW) and repair water damage inside her house.

What I fear is that developers will come into the state to provide much needed housing for Louisiana residents and decide that wind resistance is a good place to start value engineering, not the expensive molding.

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