When Hurricane Katrina made landfall 10 years ago, it caused a whopping $41 billion in insured losses and more than $151 billion in overall economic losses. The storm left massive damages in coastal counties across Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Since then, the region has made great strides in ensuring the construction of stronger and safer buildings. The Institute for Business & Home Safety said in a Katrina follow-up report that stronger roofing regulations, building codes and standards, plus tougher requirements for inspections, building permits and contractor licensing have boosted defenses against future storms and hurricanes.

The IBHS based its assessment on a survey of building code enforcement offices in 42 coastal communities in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi with more than 10,000 or more people. Researchers were able to collect information from 40 building code enforcement offices.

Among the major findings: 100 percent of surveyed jurisdictions now enforce either the 2012 or 2009 edition of the International Residential Code (for building codes). Pre-Katrina, only 36 percent of coastal communities enforced the IRC, according to the report.

More than half of surveyed jurisdictions now require some type of licensing or registration for roofers, though unlicensed roofing work is allowed below an established financial amount in some jurisdictions.

About 70 percent of jurisdictions surveyed now require permits for re-roofing projects, up from 38 percent before Katrina. One qualifier – most communities still let homeowners, instead of contractors – get a roofing permit. The IBHS said this allows a backdoor for unlicensed installers to perform work.

IBHS Katrina Building PermitsStill, the region has a long way to go, according to the IBHS. The organization cited a number of areas that need further improvement. For example, 77 percent of communities surveyed don’t require re-roofing projects to be inspected. Inspectors explained they did so to avoid delays that could cause damage through exposure.

On the other hand, 70 percent of jurisdictions require three different parts of new roofing projects to be inspected. That’s up from 15 percent before Hurricane Katrina, according to the report, which notes the progreses and

“Good building codes have little value if they are not enforced,” the IBHS report noted.

Source: The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety

Topics Catastrophe Natural Disasters Hurricane