Where building safety research leads to real-world solutions.
The purpose of building codes is to increase the safety and integrity of structures, thereby reducing deaths, injuries and property damage. This preserves the built environment, both residential and commercial, reduces public and private disaster aid, and maintains employment in businesses and institutions that otherwise might be forced to close following a natural or manmade disaster. In addition, building codes promote a level and predictable playing field for designers, builders and suppliers. They offer a degree of comfort for buyers, who are reassured by the existence of minimum construction standards for the safety and soundness of a building. Modern codes also allow for economies of scale in the production of building materials and construction of buildings. These uniform construction standards contribute to the durability of buildings and help maintain quality of life and property values.
In January 2012, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) published Rating the States: An Assessment of Residential Building Code and Enforcement Systems for Life Safety and Property Protection in Hurricane-Prone Regions. The report evaluated and compared the quality of regulations and processes governing residential building construction in the 18 states most vulnerable to catastrophic hurricanes along the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico, assigning each state a score on a 100-point scale.
Building codes evolve and are amended over time. As a result, state action – or inaction – can change the relative degree of protection provided by a particular code. We are now at the midterm point in the building code cycle between 2012 and 2015. This Rating the States Midterm Update looks at building code activity in the same coastal states featured in IBHS’ original report, grouping them according to whether they have taken positive action, negative action, or no action to change their building codes during the ensuing 18 months.