My mitigation education: lessons from a home inspection
Have you had a wind mitigation inspection? This is when a credentialed inspector comes to your home and looks at how it is constructed to assess its ability to stand up to hurricane-force winds. I had my home inspected just a few weeks ago. I was actually looking forward to the inspection, since my insurer paid for it and knowing if the roof over my head would actually stay there is the sort of information I’d like to have.
As an optimist, there was hope my 1984-built home was the Castillo de San Marcos of the Florida suburbs. It’s not. We have not yet received the complete inspection report, but in a nutshell—my roof is a nutshell. While some roofs may be better built than others despite their age, most are built to whatever minimum standard is in effect at the time. Mine was apparently below minimum. Nearly everything about constructing Florida roofs has been upgraded within the past decade, thanks to building code regulation.
First, multiple hurricanes have proven that gable roofs are a problem, especially when the gable ends are not properly attached to the roof sheathing. My house has not one, not two, but three gable ends. Esthetically pleasing, yet they bring the very real possibility of acting like full sails in high winds. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) has tips for anchoring gable ends, which we plan to follow. Another lesson during the home inspection is that the connections between my roof structure and walls were insufficient, even according to the building codes in force at the time. The mitigation inspector said that someone cut corners. Who knew. For example, now there is supposed to be a U bracket that wraps the truss frame to connect it to the roof deck at multiple points. The brackets in our roof were a single strip held in place with one lonely nail.
Okay, so my top lesson was that upgrading the roof is a top priority—and I’ll do that one day, maybe sooner rather than later. Did I mention that our roof singles were stapled, and nowadays they need to be nailed? Yeah. Another building code improvement we’ll benefit from next time. Here’s some information on Roofing the Right Way from IBHS.
When you get a wind mitigation inspection on a renewal policy, the insurance premium won’t go up and, in many cases, homeowners received rate decreases because they get credit for strong building characteristics and for taking steps to prevent damage, like purchasing the right kind of hurricane shutters. I learned a lot from my mitigation inspection. Ignorance is not bliss, if you want to turn Home Sweet Home into Home Safe Home. Look for more mitigation lessons in upcoming posts.