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Spooked by Hurricanes, Homeowners Make Storm-Proofing Upgrades

(NewsUSA) – All those monster hurricanes and tornados we’ve been experiencing have apparently spooked homeowners worse than just about any disaster film Hollywood ever produced.

Six years after the housing bubble burst, the National Association of Home Builders reports homeowners may be beginning to dabble again in largish home remodeling projects costing an average of $100,000 to $150,000. But — and this is one of the biggest trends — they’re also putting lots of their dollars towards more practical storm-proofing upgrades like wind-resistant roofing, built-in generators and basement drainage.

“It’s exploded since Hurricane Irene in 2011,” Justin Mihalik, a vice president of the New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects, told MarketWatch.com.

And who can blame them? Hurricane Irene, which affected much of the East Coast, was bad enough. (Final toll: at least 56 deaths and $15.6 billion in damages.) But then, almost like a one-two punch, in October 2012 you had Superstorm Sandy — the second-costliest hurricane in U.S. history, according to the National Hurricane Center, whose destructive path across 24 states left:

  • 159 dead (including at least 87 from related causes like clean-up accidents and hypothermia due to power outages).
  • More than $71 billion in damages.
  • Distraught homeowners, especially in hard-hit New York and New Jersey, arguing with their insurance companies that wind had sheared off their roofs and allowed damaging rainwater to pour inside. (A crucial point since standard homeowners’ policies cover wind-driven rain but not floods.)

Clearly, the hope now is that by investing in wind-resistant roofing, for example, homeowners can avoid or limit damage in the future — and maybe even cut their insurance bills.

Jason Joplin, program manager of the Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence, has studied all the alternatives and recommends that new roofs include pre-cut Starter Strip Shingles available from GAF (www.gaf.com), North America’s largest roofing manufacturer. “Starter strips lock the first row of shingles tightly in place to help prevent future blow-offs,” he says.

And for those still wavering about whether to join the trend even after May’s killer tornado in Oklahoma? Well, if you really want to know what it’s like to see your home reduced to rubble and then be locked in a wind-driven rain vs. flood dispute with your insurance company, two words from New Jersey’s Susanne Bannon, who’s in her mid-60s, sum it up.

“It’s traumatic,” she told the Star-Ledger newspaper.

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