Homebuilding group thinks fortified roofs could help homeowners amid the insurance crisis

Some building materials remain hard to get
Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 8:40 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As insurance premiums increase, the homebuilding industry thinks “fortified” roofs could help homeowners, this as many people are still trying to recover from Hurricane Ida’s damage.

Yogi Johnson and her sister moved boxes out of a POD in her front yard.

“I don’t want to go through another hurricane in my lifetime,” said Johnson.

Even though her roof was not heavily damaged by Ida’s winds repairs have been hard to come by. getting it repaired “A year even though I called a few days after the storm to be on the list to have my roof repaired,” Johnson said.

There were anxious days as she waited to have her roof repaired.

“I didn’t mind waiting but I just didn’t expect it to be this long and it made me nervous when it became hurricane season again and I still didn’t have the repair done,” said Johnson.

In another neighborhood, Salvador Militello said he made most of the needed repairs to this home himself but said he knows others who fared worse.

“My daughter lives around the corner, the whole house was flooded, ruined all the floors, everything through it and my nephew right here at this house basically the same thing and fighting with the insurance. Everybody I talk is fighting with the insurance,” said Militello.

And rebuilding materials are higher.

Dan Mills is CEO of the Homebuilders Association of Greater New Orleans.

“Roofing materials have gone up substantially particularly in our area because as you know Ida has placed a tremendous demand on us. Roofing squares are 50% to 60% higher than they were before Ida, so that has been a combination of the supply chain but also the demand in our area,” he said. And lumber costs went up.

“Lumber prices peaked at $1,600 per thousand linear feet; they’re down around $ 500 per thousand linear feet right now but that’s still almost double what it was before the pandemic,” he said.

Mills said some other materials remain hard to get.

“Electrical components like transformers and electrical panels, they’re just in very short supply but other items it’s a matter of transport, so getting those items out, so for example, things like cement, the transport costs of bringing that cement, the shortage of truck drivers has really run up those prices, too,” he said.

And given the amount of roof damage, Hurricane Ida caused throughout Southeast Louisiana there are efforts afoot that would help people get hardier roofs.

“We’re looking to be able to do new things like fortified roofs that would give us more resiliency in the future because insurance costs are around the corner and they’re going to drive prices up as well,” he said.

He says the Louisiana Department of Insurance is involved in the effort.

“We’re working with the Louisiana Department of Insurance and an internal task force on fortified roofing and we are working in combination with a group called IBHS [Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety].” Said Mills. " What they do is third-party certification for fortified roofs, that means that you can get a certificate that they have exceeded the code in our area and it means that they’ve sealed your roofing deck before the shingles go down to provide extra resiliency and our insurance carriers will provide discounts to those certified.”

He agrees more laborers are needed.

“We do have a new training facility in Kenner that has already graduated about 30 students that are in the trades; at full speed, they will graduate 450 new tradesmen and women throughout the year, and that school functions at no cost, it’s called the Build Strong academy,” said Mills.

As for Johnson, she anticipates moving back into her home soon.

“I’m actually renting a house on this block and I’m expecting to be back in my house by the end of the month hopefully,” she said.

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