What Would the Safe Building Code Incentive Act Do?

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) urges House subcommittee to pass the Safe Building Code Incentive Act

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) provided compelling testimony today before the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management in support of the “Safe Building Code Incentive Act” (HR 2069).

“Every region of our country is vulnerable to one or more potentially devastating natural hazards, which is why improving disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery must be a national priority,” said Julie Rochman, IBHS president and CEO. “HR 2069 is important legislation that provides a vehicle to put scientific knowledge about the proven benefits of building codes to work, which will significantly improve our nation’s safety and resilience.”

This bill would provide qualifying states with an additional 4 percent of funding available for post-disaster assistance if they adopt and enforce nationally recognized model building codes. Specifically, states would need to adopt and enforce the International Residential Code (IRC) from one of the last two cycles it was updated, which currently would be 2012 or 2009.

During her testimony, Rochman showed the Subcommittee a video of wood-frame houses being subjected to a highly realistic windstorm with wind speeds and gusts up to 120 mph at the IBHS Research Center. During this test, the roof of the home built using conventional construction practices lifted off entirely under the force of about 95 mph winds. The loss of the roof caused total destruction of the home only moments later.

“One of the most effective ways to greatly increase a building’s strength and safety during hurricanes, tornadoes and straight-line windstorms is to be sure the building is tied together properly. The cost for strapping to provide a continuous connection from the roof to the foundation is less than $1,500 to $2,000 for a home or small business,” Rochman told the Subcommittee.

“A continuous load path should be a feature of residential and commercial construction everywhere in this country, and it could be through building codes. It is simply inexcusable that we do not ensure that buildings in areas subject to moderate and severe high wind events – which is much of this country – are properly tied together,” Rochman said.

IBHS recently evaluated the building codes in 18 hurricane-prone states along the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico. In the first of its kind report, Rating the States: An Assessment of Residential Building Code and Enforcement Systems for Life Safety and Property Protection in Hurricane-Prone Regions, IBHS details how states can improve their building code systems in order to better protect their citizens.

“Despite the fact that building codes are minimum life safety standards, many states do not have adequate building code systems to protect their citizens. Passing the ‘Safe Building Code Incentive Act’ is one way to urge states to adopt and enforce the most up-to-date codes to reduce deaths, injuries and property damage from a wide range of hazards,” Rochman stated.

To find out what building standards your state has in place, go to IBHS’ interactive map for details.

Visit DisasterSafety.org for more information about how to make your buildings more resistant to a variety of disasters, big and small.