The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released a long-awaited study detailing archaic building codes' impact on communities. The report concludes that 65 percent of counties and municipalities in the United States have not adopted modern building codes. These communities incur an additional $1.6 billion a year in property damage due to flooding, strong winds, and earthquakes – costs that could be averted altogether if building codes were up-to-date.
The report aims to persuade communities to adopt and enforce more robust building codes and provides ammunition to fight against opponents of building code adoption, including builders who argue that higher standards are cost-prohibitive.
According to FEMA, the cost of strengthening a new construction home against natural disasters is minimal compared with the overall cost of construction. The agency estimates that hurricane safeguards add $4,500 in additional costs to a $300,000 home but would avert $48,000 in damage over 30 years.
"This is the most comprehensive study that has been done to date that considers the loss-avoidance benefits of building code adoption," said International Code Council Vice President Gabe Maser. "The question is now whether policymakers are ready to take these findings to heart and act on them."