No one in Florida wants to experience a hurricane and my sympathy goes out to anyone who suffered losses from Hurricane Irma. However, storm clouds usually have a silver lining and that may be in higher prices for sellers of single family homes and condominiums throughout Florida.
As the assessment of damages from Irma continues, it is becoming clear that Florida’s stricter building standards helped minimize physical and financial losses. In the wake of hurricane Andrew in 1992, Florida passed statewide regulations in 2002 that are some of the strictest building codes in the country. All new construction requires impact-resistance windows and metal roof fasteners that keep the roof from blowing off. Many of Florida’s older homes are made of concrete block that sit on a concrete slab foundation, also known as a Concrete Block Structure (CBS). These older buildings can be retrofitted with new hurricane resistant features that are proven to work.
Besides making people safe, the benefit of these hurricane resistant improvements increases the value of the buildings. People will continue to move to Florida because of its beautiful climate, job opportunities and carefree lifestyle. Buyers will pay a premium for newer and retrofitted storm resistant houses. Some research suggests that for every one dollar spent on hurricane prevention, there is a reduction of losses by six dollars. This cost savings can have significant impact on everything from insurance to local and county budgets.
The benefits of stricter building codes is even more pronounced in Palm Beach County as more businesses are relocating to the area. Commercial real estate becomes more attractive as the safety of capital improves and the new workforce can confidently invest in our neighborhoods and communities that have been hurricane tested.
On Palm Beach Island, many condominium developments and single family homes did not even lose power during the storm because they have backup generators. Mostly, residents experienced wind damage to the palms and trees leaving piles of yard waste lining the sides of the road, waiting for collection. The stricter building codes combined with the preparations for the storm by the public and private sector resulted in minimal disruptions to life in our tropical paradise. Palm Beach, West Palm Beach and the surrounding area will continue to be a desirable place to live, work, vacation and retire despite the occasional hurricane.