Insurance and construction experts told county commissioners that they can reduce potential storm damage and losses by up to 40-60% percent by encouraging property owners to make critical structural improvements to older homes. Property owners in counties that implement a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program can make these essential structural improvements immediately and pay for them over time as part of their annual tax assessment.
Jonathan Schaefer, program manager of the Florida PACE Funding Agency (FPFA), said his agency has secured $500 million in funding that can flow immediately to counties to pay for these improvements.
“If counties work with the Florida PACE Funding Agency to put the program into place quickly, they can reduce their risk of storm damage dramatically,” Schaefer said. “The Agency is ready and the funding is available so there is nothing standing in the way.”
Guest speaker, Dr. Tim Reinhold of the Institute for Business and Home Safety, said in his presentation “Existing properties, built before building codes and enforcement were upgraded and building products were improved are Florida’s Achilles Heel when it comes to hurricane damage. With a thoughtful step-by-step approach to mitigation, we can move these buildings towards greater resiliency.”
Dr. Reinhold’s recommendations include:
When re-roofing, a homeowner can take the roof down to the deck and re-nail the deck to current code requirements, seal the roof deck and install high wind-rated shingles. Even if they are not re-roofing, closed cell foam adhesives – a variety of products are available – applied in the attic to seal the roof deck will protect the attic and the house from water if the shingles don’t hold.
Prior to improved building codes, soffits were often held in place just enough to keep them from falling down. Now, they can and should be strengthened and fortified so that they can withstand high winds and further protect the attic from rain.
Gable End Vents
Also to prevent water intrusion into the attic and ultimately into the house, gable end vents should be shuttered.
The vents that run along the entire length of the roof, or ridge vent, should have covers that are rated to withstand winds and prevent water intrusion.
According to Reinhold, well-enforced, modern engineering-based building codes have demonstrated the ability to significantly reduce both the frequency – by 60% – and the severity – by 40% – of losses in hurricanes.
But sadly, the vast majority of Florida’s 4.88 million single-family homes were built before the Florida Building Code was adopted in 2002. And a study by University of Florida engineers further found that homes built before 1994 sustained more damage from the four named storms that battered Florida in 2004 than newer homes, especially compared to those built after 2002.
From an insurance perspective, Trisch Commander of Florida’s Division of Consumer Services shared that hurricanes have caused tens of billions of dollars in insured damages. Even worse, predictions of more catastrophic hurricanes making landfall in Florida have triggered increases in insurance premiums to cover the potential future losses.
Said Commander, “Taking wind loss mitigation steps can make your home more resistant to wind, reduce insurance premiums and protect your family during a catastrophic event.”
Experts speaking at the annual conference of the Florida Association of Counties today told county commissioners that they can significantly reduce that risk with PACE funding. The final speaker, Commissioner Barbara Revels from Flagler County, shared from a peer perspective the benefits of subscribing to the Florida PACE Funding Agency.
“The Florida PACE Funding Agency has created and is managing a uniform, scalable, cost effective, statewide platform that is easily accessible to all counties,” said Commissioner Revels. “The Agency’s program makes improvements for wind strengthening and energy efficiency both affordable and easy to obtain.”
The Florida PACE Funding Agency is a special purpose local government formed by the collaborative efforts by Flagler County and the City of Kissimmee, Fla. The Agency was created by local governments in order to create the most transparent and accountable means of providing financing to residential and non-residential property owners for qualifying energy efficiency, renewable generation and wind-resistance improvements. Subscription by any Florida county or city to the Agency’s funding program was intentionally created to be without liability or cost to counties or cities that desire the benefits and economic development resulting from the Program. Neither the City of Kissimmee nor Flagler County receives ongoing revenue streams from their efforts. The Agency was set up as a statewide public service for the benefit of participating counties.