Storm-Proofing Projects Spike After Hurricanes and Tornadoes Batter Homeowners

Homeowners can only endure so many monster hurricanes and tornadoes before they’re forced to take action.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, homeowners are finally able to consider largescale remodeling projects six years after the housing bubble burst—which cost an average of $100,000 to $150,000. Among the projects, one of the biggest trends shows homeowners investing in 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.

But it’s no surprise, given the devastation Mother Nature has wreaked over the past few years. Hurricane Irene caused at least 56 deaths and led to $15.6 billion worth of damages up and down the East Coast. In 2012, the U.S. experienced the second-costliest hurricane in history—Superstorm Sandy. Sandy’s destructive arc left 159 dead, more than $71 billion in damages and a wake of distraught homeowners.

In the areas that were hit especially hard, like New York and New Jersey, homeowning families and couples fought tooth and nail with their insurance companies about sheared-off roofs and the source of the water that destroyed their homes. As many are already aware, standard homeowners’ policies cover damages from wind-driven rain but not floods.

After living through that once—and in some cases, twice—many hope to avoid or limit similar repairs in the future by investing in wind-resistant roofing and other improvements. Storm-proofing upgrades may even help lower insurance bills.

After studying all of the alternatives, Jason Joplin, program manager of the Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence, recommends the line of pre-cut Starter Strip Shingles from GAF (www.gaf.com), North America’s largest roofing manufacturer. “It includes the industry’s strongest and most properly positioned adhesive to help prevent blow-off,” he says.

If anyone is still unsure whether or not to join the trend, even after May’s killer tornado in Oklahoma, consider this: Do 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-versus-flood dispute with your insurance company? Two words from New Jersey’s Susanne Bannon, who is in her mid-60s, sum it up.

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

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