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IBHS Urges Homeowners to Include Disaster-Resistance in Home Improvement Projects

IBHS Urges Homeowners to Include Disaster-Resistance in Home Improvement Projects

Posted: Thursday, May 6, 2010 8:01 pm

Tampa, Fla. (May 3, 2010) – The Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) today urged homeowners to integrate disaster-resistance into their remodeling plans this year.

According to a recent American Express Spending & Saving Tracker survey, 62 percent of homeowners polled said they, “plan to embark on home improvement projects in 2010 and spend an average of $6,200 on enhancements.”

“Home improvements are a great way to increase a home’s curb appeal and value,” said Julie Rochman, president & CEO of IBHS. “However, those improvements won’t mean much if the home is damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster. With hurricane season approaching, and given the year-round danger of wildfire, hail and other severe storms across the country, homeowners should make disaster-resistance part of their home improvement plans.

“IBHS’ Web site, www.DisasterSafety.org includes extensive information for homeowners about the specific measures they can implement to strengthen their home to make it more resistant to the natural hazards that are likely to occur in their geographic area,” Rochman said.

For example, when installing a new roof cover select one that is appropriate for the hazards in your area and take advantage of the opportunity re-roofing offers to strengthen your roof. For hail, wildfire and high winds/hurricanes, it is important to strip the old roof cover down to the sheathing. Most roofing products and particularly shingles resist hail impact best when they are installed on a smooth firm surface. In areas with a high hail risk, choose a Class 4 impact resistant product.

The fire resistance rating of roof covers is dependent in many cases on the types of materials making up the entire roof system so you may not get a class A (the best rating) fire resistant roof if the rated cover is installed over old roof cover material.

For hurricanes and high winds, it is important to check the fastening of the roof sheathing. In most cases, roof sheathing products such as plywood sheets or Oriented Strand Board will not be well attached to the roof framing. When you are re-roofing, there are steps that can be taken from re-nailing the roof sheathing, applying self adhesive strips over sheathing joints, installing a stronger underlayment with cap head nails and selecting a high rated roof cover that can reduce the roof’s vulnerability to damage when a severe weather event occurs.

If you are remodeling a portion of your house, look for ways to strengthen or protect that portion of your home so that you will have a stronger, safer area to go to if you are at home during a severe weather event. If you are in tornado or hurricane country and are remodeling a closet, consider turning it into a safe room or at least strengthening it so you have a safer area where you can seek shelter. If you live in earthquake or hurricane prone areas, consider strengthening the connections that form the load path from your roof to foundation in the area where you are remodeling. If you live in an area subject to wildfire risk, choose exterior finishes that are ignition resistant and make sure that decks or other additions are ignition resistant.

Homeowners may also gain a second benefit from disaster-resistant home improvement projects – improved energy efficiency. For example, using double-pane, impact resistant windows not only keeps wind and fire out, but they also do a better job of keeping cool/warm air in helping homeowners save on their cooling/heating bills.

Check out IBHS’ www.DisasterSafety.org to learn about a number of simple and inexpensive ways homeowners can improve the ability of their homes to withstand the effects of natural disasters. Check out the regional wildfire retrofit guides for ways to integrate wildfire resistance into your home improvements whether they are in landscaping, adding features such as fences or decks or remodeling.
Posted 5.6.10

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