Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tornadoes and Building Codes

A superb commentary by Dr. Kevin Simmons on why better building codes in tornado alley pay for themselves. It is short, to the point, and well worth your time.

1 comment:

  1. While this is great news that should be more widely adopted, I wonder how much impact it will truly have.

    In, say, 10 years, what percentage of the total number of homes will have been constructed? 1%? Maybe 5%?

    It would take another Greensburg-type disaster that wipes the slate clean - at immense human cost, both monetarily and and in human capital - for these building codes to truly have a lasting affect.

    At "fault" is the superb construction under normal circumstances that this country has had in the past 100 years. I wouldn't know where to get this data, but I wonder what percentage of homes built since 1900 are still standing. 1930? 1950? 1970? There are diminishing returns the further you go back, but it's far cheaper to build on vacant land (which the US has in massive supply, especially in the plains) than to tear down a house and rebuild.

    The following link answers a different question (what percentage of homes were build before date x) but interesting none the less.

    http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-advice/how-old-are-americas-houses.shtml

    Actually, there's a chart that tells the percentage of homes built between 2000 and 2009: 14.3%. That means nearly 86% of the homes in the country were built before 2000 and so wouldn't benefit from the new building codes.

    As noted in the piece, this is highly geographic... the NE and the rust belt have the highest percentage of very old homes and even so, those are most likely to be very solidly built (we put an offer in on a home a few years ago from 1930 that had steel girder construction on the main floor... build like a commerical building!).

    I guess my point is this... I'm not disagreeing with the premise, especially because the new codes are very inexpensive, relatively. But they would be massively more expensive per square foot if they were implemented in retrofitting older homes, which would have a wider impact.

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