Surviving the Storm: Building Codes and the Reduction of Hurricane Damage

by David L. Unnewehr, Insurance Research Council, Oak Brook, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Hurricane Hugo One Year Later


The link between adequate building codes, enforcement, and the level of damage experienced in major hurricanes was examined in a 1989 study by AIRAC, a public policy research group sponsored by the property-liability insurance industry. Among key findings, the report notes that insured property values in South Carolina counties most exposed to hurricanes rose 83% from 1980-88, the second highest increase among all states along the Gulf and Atlantic coatline. When Hurricane Hugo struck South Carolina, only about half the geographic area of the state was covered by building codes and enforcement. Wind resistance standards in building codes are often opposed by groups saying that such regulations unduly raise the cost of housing or restrict economic development. Homes can be made much more hurricane-resistant at a cost of between 1.8% and 3.7% of a coastal property's total sales price, according to a study prepared by the National Research Center of the National Association of Home Builders.

Subject Headings: Standards and codes | Building codes | Hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones | Storms | Wind engineering | Load and resistance factor design | Benefit cost ratios | Insurance | South Carolina | United States

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