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Long Hammers Regulators for Tougher Coastal Building Codes

Posted September 10, 2007

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— North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Jim Long on Monday urged state regulators to strengthen building codes for more protection of coastal properties during storms.

The state is the only one along the southern Atlantic coast that hasn't incorporated stricter requirements into its building codes to fend off wind-borne debris, Long said. Such provisions would mandate plywood shutters, custom shutters or impact-resistant glass in new residential construction.

During hurricanes or strong storms, wind-borne debris can cause damage in multiple ways, he said. Debris that breaks windows allows rain and wind into the house, causing water damage and increasing the air pressure inside structures, which could cause them to explode.

Homes with shutters or impact-resistant windows are protected from such damage in high-wind storms, Long said. Revising the state building codes would allow homeowners to protect themselves quickly, easily and inexpensively before a storm hits, he said.

“Homebuilders and developers balk at adding any codes that require them to do more or spend more during construction, but that’s shortsighted and greedy,” he said. "If stricter measures are not taken to protect our coastal homes, lives and property are put at unnecessary risk, and insurance companies will have even fewer reasons to provide affordable coverage to coastal residents.”

Insurance rates for coastal homeowners continue to rise, partly because of the number and high cost of claims paid in that area, Long said.

12 Comments

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  • pbjbeach Sep 10, 2007

    jim longs propasal will never get off the ground because there is to much special instrest involved that they will never let the regulations be upgraded just like everything else in state government. the unwritten golden rule apply's here in other words he that has the GOLD RULES

  • JohnnyMalaria Sep 10, 2007

    True but the code already requires plywood shutters or impact resistant glass. One of the reasons given to me by the county also included flying debris.

  • hp277 Sep 10, 2007

    ^70 mph won't cut it on the coast. They need to withstand 130+.

    Jim Long is right. It would be much cheaper in the long run to build to a stronger code than to pay higher and higher insurance rates.

  • JohnnyMalaria Sep 10, 2007

    "The state is the only one along the southern Atlantic coast that hasn't incorporated stricter requirements into its building codes to fend off wind-borne debris, Long said. Such provisions would mandate plywood shutters, custom shutters or impact-resistant glass in new residential construction."

    Huh? I had a new garage/barn built to my design and I chose to build my own double hung sash windows from scratch. I live in Orange County. According to the head of the planning/permits section, my windows would have to withstand a sustained 70mph wind for 10 seconds and/or I would have to provide shutters to protect the windows in such conditions. I had to pay for a structural engineer to come out to approve my self-built windows (which he did).

    I read the state building code - the county rep was correct (of course).

    So - what is Long talking about? The code already exists.

    Try enforcing it, instead.

    Good grief.

  • Adelinthe Sep 10, 2007

    Long is a smart guy and has been the Insurance Commissioner for a long long time.

    Praying for all.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • eastof raliegh Sep 10, 2007

    Pwilliams is right. They are called the state "minimum codes" for a reason !!

  • pwilliamson53 Sep 10, 2007

    If contractors would use higher quality of products and use more stick codes to building these places, everyone would benefit. Some of those condo's going up look like they wouldn't withstand a minor wind storm. It's ashame they build these cheap places and ask high dollars for them, and poof a storm comes along and they're gone. Our insurance dollars increase to cover this mess. Go for stronger codes....do us all a favor.

  • curiousgeorgia Sep 10, 2007

    Why are so many of the shutters I see on homes here just silly ornamental pieces of junk? Why in the world don't people get the genuine article! They really do a good job protecting the windows and the people inside.

    PS. Don't build right on the edge of a sand shoal, the ocean only lends them to us for a short time.

  • methinkthis Sep 10, 2007

    People that build in high risk areas such as the outer banks should shoulder the burden. They should have their own insurance pool separate from folks that live in safer areas. There has been far too much development on all the coastal islands. The reason is that everyone thinks that insurance companies and/or the government is going to bail them out when the storm strikes. This should not be the case. Same for building the Bonner Bridge. If it is worth a billion dollars to the coast let them build it. For me, when I go I can take the ferry. As far as getting trapped when a storm is there weather predictions are pretty good about giving advanced warning for storms. If you live there, you need a plan B for storms and that is your problem, not my problem. Not my problem to give you a billion dollar escape route. There is no free lunch. It is not free if it costs me. I help those in need but you are not in need if you unnecessarily put yourself in harm's way.

  • FE Sep 10, 2007

    I agree with everything that has been said on this specific topic.

    (ANXIOUSLY awaiting another nasty-gram from WRAL.)

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