Hurricane Harvey May Impact Building Codes

Building codes back on front burner as tie between storms and housing durability is scrutinized.

As reported by Christopher Flavelle of Bloomberg Politics in his August 30 article, “Harvey Could Reshape Where Americans Build Homes,” Hurricane Harvey has highlighted a climate debate that had mostly stayed out of public view–a debate that’s separate from the battle over greenhouse gas emissions, but more consequential to the lives of many Americans. At the core of that fight is whether the U.S. should respond to the growing threat of extreme weather by changing how and, even where, homes are built.

Flavelle notes that Texas, despite being one of the states most vulnerable to storms, has one of the most relaxed approaches to building codes, inspections, and other protections, saying  it’s one of just four states along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts with no mandatory statewide building codes, according to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, and it has no statewide program to license building officials.

The fight in Texas is a microcosm of a national battle, and the NAHB has inserted itself in a bid to block all new codes that may impact the cost of home ownership.

Code Warrior Ron Jones, cofounder of Green Builder Media and NAHB board member, weighed in on the NAHB stance in Flavelle’s post, saying that while the focus now should be on helping people hurt by Harvey, he hoped the storm would also force new thinking. “There’s no sort of national leadership involved,” said Jones. “For them it’s just, ’Hell, we’ll rebuild these houses as many times as you’ll pay us to do it,’” Jones says.

Read the full article here.

Related article: “Florida’s Short Memory for Hurricanes” on how Florida is walking back building codes even with its past disastrous experience with hurricanes.