WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 20, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety today said that Maryland citizens will be safer due to legislation passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Martin O’Malley. The new law prohibits local jurisdictions from weakening the wind design and windborne debris provisions in the state’s building codes, and will take effect Oct. 1.
“By signing the bill into law, Governor O’Malley reinforces Maryland’s commitment to protecting its citizens against the very real threat of windstorms, including hurricanes” said Debra Ballen, IBHS general counsel and senior vice president of public policy. “Like other effective property loss mitigation measures, strong building codes can save lives, promote long-term fiscal stability, reduce public sector response and recovery costs, protect the environment, and create a more resilient society.
“Strong codes help maintain the local and state tax base, which is vital to supporting public services, such as police and fire departments,” Ballen added.
An IBHS study following Hurricane Charley, which struck Florida in 2004, found that homes built to modern codes with increased wind resistance were 40 percent less likely to be damaged and the repair costs were 60 percent lower.
“Allowing local jurisdictions to weaken the wind-resistance portion of the state building code could reduce the protections afforded to home and business owners, destroys the concept of baseline protection for all, and complicate the design and building processes,” said Ballen. “New homes and businesses, as well as those that are substantially renovated, located in areas vulnerable to windstorms will be better able to withstand the high winds due to the wind design and wind-borne debris protections in the building code.
“By not allowing these important protections to be weakened, Gov. O’Malley chose to forego potentially cheaper costs upfront in favor of avoiding much more expensive long-term costs for homeowners, communities, the state, and the natural environment,” Ballen added.
As the 2012 storms illustrated, high winds do not respect zone boundaries. Properties more than 100 miles from the coast also can experience significant wind damage, according to post-disaster research conducted by IBHS. The holistic approach utilized in the Maryland Building Performance Standards is the most effective way to ensure safer, stronger communities throughout the state.
IBHS is a leading national expert on preparing for – and repairing and rebuilding structures after – a catastrophe to make them more disaster-resistant. To arrange an interview with IBHS, contact Joseph King at 813-675-1045/813-442-2845, jking (at) ibhs (dot) org or via direct message on Twitter @jsalking.
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About the IBHS – IBHS is an independent, nonprofit, scientific research and communications organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks on residential and commercial property by conducting building science research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparedness practices.
Contact: Joseph King (813) 675-1045