August, 2006
News in Brief
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Who doesn’t want to know their flood risk? (and what to do about it)

EDITED BY ASHI STAFF

Floodsmart.gov is the official site of the National Flood Insurance Program. Visit the site to learn…

  • Floods and flash floods happen in all 50 states.
  • Everyone lives in a flood zone.
  • Most homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage.
  • If you live in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) or high-risk area, your mortgage lender requires you to have flood insurance.
  • Just an inch of water can cause costly damage to your property.

The site is designed to educate the public about flood risks, resources and responsibilities. While the focus is on the National Flood Insurance Program, even those who are not eligible for or required to participate in the program can benefit from visiting the highly interactive site.

What’s your Flood Risk?

Type in an address and learn the property’s flood zone, the level of risk for that zone, and how to lessen the risks of property loss due to flooding. For those who determine the property is in a high-risk area, there are tools for estimating insurance premiums and for finding local agents who sell flood insurance.

True stories of people who recovered significant financial loss due to flooding thanks to flood insurance polices featured residents from Northern Indiana; Grand Forks, N.D.; Monterey County, Calif.; Baltimore, Md.; Pass Christian, Miss.; and St. Bernard Parish, La., illustrating the point that floods happen everywhere.

Congress Approves AIA-Backed Programs for Gulf Coast Rebuilding

Two programs supported by The American Institute of Architects (AIA) to provide housing alternatives to mobile trailers and to repair historic structures have been approved by the U.S. Congress. Additional funding for hurricane recovery in the Gulf Coast region is part of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill that has been sent to the president for his signature.

The legislation creates a $400 million “alternative housing pilot program” to be administered by FEMA in Mississippi and Louisiana. These funds are to be used for projects that create modular housing for hurricane victims that are:

  • Hurricane-resistant, using waterproof cement-plank siding and sealed-wall panels that do not become saturated and subject to structural failure;
  • Available at costs below those of temporary FEMA trailers;
  • Able to be constructed quickly, using prefabricated panelized walls;
  • Expandable into larger, more comfortable living space as the owners become financially capable of doing so; and
  • Capable of becoming permanent structures.

The legislation passed by Congress also contains $40 million for a grants program in the Gulf Coast region to assist the owners of designated historic structures and structures eligible for historic status to restore their storm-damaged buildings. This provision was developed by the AIA and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“This is another important victory for the AIA and its members,” said Wolfe. “Thousands of historic structures in Mississippi and Louisiana are in danger of collapsing as a result of hurricane damage, threatening a major piece of our country’s
architectural heritage. Working in conjunction with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, we were able to convince Congress that saving these sites matters.”

To learn more about AIA, visit www.aia.org.

What Issues Give Builders the Most Trouble??

According to Quality Built, a risk management service, single-family homes averaged $5,398 in corrected defects per home in 2005, while multi-family homes and mixed commercial-use construction averaged $4,556 in corrected defects. The survey also identifies the leading-risk items for each housing type. These include the following:

Single-family housing:

  • Building paper and housewrap (i.e., building envelope) installation flaws
  • Improper framing around windows and doors
  • Missing structural straps and connectors (e.g., hold-downs)

Multi-family and mixed commercial use construction:

  • Unprotected penetrations in life-safety assemblies
  • Missing fire-rated materials at electrical device boxes
  • Building paper and housewrap installation flaws

The findings come from data captured during the construction data collection process by Quality Built field inspectors on 31,995 completed homes and condominiums across 27 U.S. states for the 12-month period ending October 1, 2005.

“None of these defects for either category would be visible to a homeowner or building owner upon completion, but the defects can be easily corrected during construction if identified early through a quality assurance program, such as ours,” said Stan Luhr, Quality Built CEO and survey author.