An organization that studies how homes hold up in disasters is suggesting stronger building codes when Illinois rebuilds from last week’s tornadoes. The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes – not a government agency but a private non-profit that studies natural disasters – says updated building codes would make homes more resistant to damage.
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President Leslie Chapman-Henderson says one area is requiring metal fasteners instead of nails to hold to roof to the walls, and more of them. “Our academic partners in the wind engineering field have already looked at Washington, Ill., some of the basic information around what happened there, and it’s clear that there are some construction methods that would come into play there, and we would urge them to be used during the rebuilding,” she said.
Chapman-Henderson says this is not a consumer choice issue; she says it’s a highly technical area of expertise, most home buyers won’t know or even know to ask what kind of construction techniques were used, and it’s up to the city fathers to adopt requirements for the latest codes, especially if the cost is minimal.
Chapman-Henderson says the chance of a tornado is slim, and the chance of an EF-4 or EF-5 tornado is even slimmer, but 95 percent of the tornado damage in the U.S. over the last 50 years was caused by less-intense tornadoes, and homes can be built to withstand those with little damage.
She says some people are installing safe rooms at a cost of a few thousand dollars, which add value to the home even if they’re never needed.