Local News

Shield Against Flying Debris Sought for New Coastal Homes

Posted September 10, 2007 6:56 p.m. EDT
Updated September 10, 2007 7:29 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina is the only coastal state from Texas to Virginia that does not follow international building codes for protection from the debris that blows about in heavy storms.

Only new Tar Heel structures built within 1,500 feet of the Atlantic Ocean must have shutters or impact-resistant windows.

Insurance Commissioner Jim Long and the private insurance industry urged the state's Building Code Council on Monday to push those stricter international wind-borne debris codes inland.

The proposed plan would require new homes not near the ocean, but still susceptible to hurricane-force winds, to meet the international codes. That means installing plywood shutters, custom shutters or impact-resistant glass for homes on the Outer Banks or east of the Intracoastal Waterway.

"The whole goal is, one, to be able to get insurance coverage, flood, wind and standard homeowners and then, second, to get it at a decent rate," said Long.

Many people on the North Carolina Building Code Council also work in the building industry and view stricter protection against wind-borne debris as an unnecessary cost.

"It (the cost) makes a difference whether somebody can afford to live there or not, or somebody has to move. The National Home Builders Association has come to the conclusion that when you put these protections in [place], you give people a false sense of protection," said homebuilder Duke Geraghty.

Supporters argue that you either pay more for a new home, pay more for homeowners insurance or pay the price when a storm comes.

The Building Code Council is scheduled to vote on the issue this fall.