Alabama is far away and above the leader nationally in terms of homes meeting the fortified standards against wind and water.
“There’s 14,000 in Alabama and a little over 16,000 nationally,” Graham Green of Safe Homes America said. “We’ve been leading for quite some time.”
With many cities and towns in coastal Alabama requiring fortified homes through building codes, there is a need for trained inspectors to make sure the standards are met.
“Most of the jurisdictions in coastal Alabama have updated their codes to a point where going fortified requires only minor additions,” lead trainer Alex Cary said. “In every code jurisdiction in Baldwin County and many in Mobile County, the code is basically in line with the fortified standards. However, even in these areas an evaluator is needed to provide [the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety] with independent verification that the process was completed correctly.”
On March 16 and 17 the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) will train a new batch of inspectors in Spanish Fort.
“I wouldn’t say there’s a shortage, but I would say the market’s growing and it could support more fortified evaluators,” Green said. “With fortified there’s pretty substantial insurance discounts in Alabama for it.”
Cary is the fortified market development manager of IBHS and will conduct the training using standards established by the institute’s Fortified Home Program.
“The training and certification will provide attendees with an in-depth and comprehensive understanding of building and retrofitting homes,” Cary said. “Class participants will become certified fortified evaluators after taking this two-day course and passing a final exam. They will then be qualified to help assess the condition of single-family, detached dwellings, ensuring that the fortified requirements are met.”
Green says the insurance savings can be substantial, especially on the wind policies required in coastal Alabama.
“The closer you are to the coast the more substantial that premium can be,” Green said. “If you build a new house to fortified home standard you can get up to a 55 percent discount. Just reroofing to fortified standards can get you up to a 35 percent discount, so it’s a pretty good deal all around.”
But to get those discounts the homes or new roof have to be inspected and certified by a trained evaluator.
“What’s missing is the fortified evaluator to certify the home,” Green said. “The lack of knowledge there is causing people to miss out on the insurance discounts. Fortified is a voluntary program designating a house and certifying a house is completely voluntary. It’s definitely a construction standard, a construction method that has been proven to strengthen homes against damage from high winds and water that can get in.”
The training is extensive and having your home certified is not free. But Cary says when the new class earns the certification, they’ll have the expertise necessary.
“Not only do they confirm that the correct construction materials and techniques are used, they often act as fortified consultants, helping homeowners and contractors to navigate the program,” Cary said. “So, as fortified becomes more popular, it’s imperative to have enough evaluators to provide this service.”
This page is available to our local subscribers. Click here to join us today and get the latest local news from local reporters written for local readers. The best deal is found by clicking here. Check it out now.
Already a member of the Lagniappe family? Sign in by clicking here