FIRE Podcast- Debra Ballen: Rating the states’ building codes

by R.J. Lehmann on February 24, 2012 · View Comments

Coastal states have differed markedly in they’ve chosen to handle risk mitigation in the nearly two decades since Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida. While some have adopted stringent statewide building codes and a host of regulations governing how contractors must apply them, others have opted for significantly more lax, or even non-existent code standards.

In the first in what is planned to be annual series of reports, the Insurance Institute for Building and Home Safety took a look at building code and life safety regulations in the 18 states along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Maine to Texas. While finding the codes in states like Florida, Virginia and New Jersey offered the most protection from hurricanes and other weather-related losses, states like Alabama, Texas, Delaware and Mississippi had no mandatory statewide residential building codes at all and also faired poorly in measurements of life safety protections and professional standards for residential builders and contractors.

In this week’s edition of the FIRE Podcast, we talk to the report’s author – Debra Ballen, IBHS’ general counsel and senior vice president for policy – about the criteria the group used, and why they feel strong building codes need not be a drag on recovery of the housing market.

Listen to the episode here, or subscribe to the FIRE Podcast in iTunes.

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