840,000 people in coastal Texas lack protection from residential building codes
TAMPA, October 17, 2019 – A detailed review of coastal Texas building codes revealed gaps that could leave homeowners at risk if mitigation efforts are not sought as nearly one-third of Texans live in the coastal counties.
The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) building code survey of jurisdictions along the Texas coast after Hurricane Harvey highlighted what we knew – the adoption of strong, modern building codes with good enforcement has proven to reduce the destruction of homes and displacement of families that often comes with landfalling hurricanes.
In Texas, building codes are adopted at the city and county level. Thirty-one jurisdictions participated in the self-reporting survey; fifteen jurisdictions declined to participate, including some of the rapidly growing suburbs of Houston.
While all twenty-one cities in the survey have adopted a code, only two of ten surveyed counties have adopted a code. More than 840,000 people live in areas outside city-limits with no adopted residential building code.
“Building codes work. Building codes help communities come back faster after a natural disaster,” says Anne Cope, PhD, P.E., Chief Engineer at IBHS. “Where building codes are missing, we need to invest in mitigation to bridge that gap and help vulnerable coastal communities build stronger.”
A top-performing code provides residents with a system of protections with modern code adoption, strong enforcement, building permit requirements, contractor and roofer licensing, and roof inspections for new roofs and reroofing projects. The Cities of Alvin, Beaumont, and San Benito provide this system of protection for their residents.
“This timely report identifies actionable opportunities to increase family safety and home protection by introducing and improving building code adoption and enforcement in specific Texas cities and counties,” said Federal Alliance for Safe Homes – FLASH President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson. “We urge Texas leaders to take advantage of this useful analysis to create more resilient communities, and we stand ready to support their efforts.”
The Texas legislature adopted the International Residential Code®(IRC) and the National Electrical Code® (NEC) as the standard building and safety codes for residential construction in Texas in 2001. However, the state did not mandate counties to adopt the code, leaving thousands unprotected.