July, 2007
News in Brief
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Engineered Wood Blog Gets High Marks


Mike O’Handley, editor of The Inspectors Journal (TIJ) online at www.inspectorsjournal.com, recommended the APA-Engineered Wood Association’s Blog to his readers.

According to O’Handley, it’s a free blog, sponsored by APA’s Professional Associates Program, and moderated by employees of the APA’s help desk. The blog can be found at www.apawood.org/pablog.

He said, “Bottom line, it’s going to be pretty hard to get more accurate or current information about engineered wood products from any other source. Check it out!”
O’Handley also suggested checking out APA’s Professional Associates Program.

To learn more about it, visit www.apawood.org/PA or phone 253-565-6600.

TIJ is a monthly interactive webzine for and about the home inspection industry.

Worst hurricane seasons provide best opportunities for strengthening homes

While back-to-back destructive hurricane seasons in 2004-05 brought the worst of times to many people living in Gulf Coast states, they also created the best opportunities the region has ever had for strengthening their homes and communities against windstorms. That is the message the nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc. - FLASH® shared at the 2007 National Hurricane Conference.

“We have never seen a better time for homeowners in hurricane-prone states to break the cycle of build, destroy, and rebuild,” said FLASH President/CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson.

To illustrate its message, FLASH uses “A New Tale of Two Houses,” a 10-minute video featuring a Code-plus, storm-resistant home that was built to replace a Punta Gorda, Fla., home destroyed by Hurricane Charley in 2004. Code-plus refers to building techniques that far surpass most state and local building codes. The construction project is the focus of a season of the popular Bob Vila show.

Because homeowners are key to efforts to strengthen homes, FLASH also developed “The Seven Things Homeowners Should Know About Living in Hurricane-Prone States”:

1) Home Hurricane Rating Scales. Florida, often referred to as the “first pin in hurricane alley,” has developed a 0-100 rating scale for homes to help determine their windstorm readiness. This first-of-its-kind scale provides homeowners with insight into the strength or weakness of their home and includes a set of improvement plans to help make it sturdier. The scale will soon be adapted for use in other states.

2) Windstorm Inspections.
Developed first in Florida, other states are now considering government and private-sector partnerships to undertake large-scale windstorm inspection programs that identify a home’s strengths and weaknesses. Inspection data will be used in post-storm engineering studies to determine what works and what doesn’t. These insights will present research findings on a scale that can speed future innovation in building technology.

3) Help for Homeowners.
Following Florida’s lead, several states are also providing matching grants to help homeowners pay for retrofitting their homes against windstorms.

4) Code-Plus Building. While model building codes are crucial, it is important to remember that building codes are the minimum standard. Code-plus building techniques far surpass most state and local building codes and can provide the ultimate protection from windstorms.

5) Rebuilding Provides Opportunity.
For those building or rebuilding, now is the time to incorporate home-strengthening building techniques that are most likely not required by local or state building codes. Home-owners can access free resources and expert advice from FLASH by calling 877-221-SAFE or visiting www.flash.org.

6) Affordable Does Not Mean Disposable. Because windstorm-resistant building techniques increase building costs, there is concern that a home cannot be both wind-resistant and affordable. It is critical to understand that there is nothing affordable about a home that is destroyed after a storm. Slightly higher building costs up front will prevent “affordable housing” from becoming synonymous with “disposable housing.”

7) When Houses Fail, We Fail.
We know windstorm-resistant building techniques are doable and that they work. To not use these proven techniques in places susceptible to hurricanes leaves homeowners vulnerable, ensures widespread structure failure, and threatens community viability.

Florida recently made FLASH’s Blueprint for Safety program the basis of the state’s hurricane mitigation programs, including the unprecedented My Safe Florida Home (MSFH) program. That program is projected to provide matching grants for windstorm retrofitting of about 70,000 homes and free inspections for approximately 400,000 homes. FLASH directed the MSFH program’s pilot phase, which ended in February.

To learn more about FLASH and access free homeowner and homebuilder resources, visit www.flash.org or call toll free 877-221-SAFE (7233).