PATH - A Public Private Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology

PATH Consumer Case Study

Looking for Shelter from the Storm

Transplanted Floridians Find Greater Storm-Resistance and Energy Efficiency


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[IMAGE: The panels don't absorb water and are designed to handle the stress of 5,000 pounds per square inch (psi), which is up to 40 percent stronger than poured concrete.]

"Since we moved in late October, we've discovered the house is very comfortable inside without turning on the air conditioning," Wiles says. "We tend to leave the doors and windows open during the day and just use the ceiling fans."

The Wiles expect to be further comforted when they see their energy bills. The home is ENERGY STAR® qualified, which means it is at least 15 percent more energy efficiency than homes built to the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code.

Those savings are nothing compared to the savings they will see if the home faces a hurricane. As insurance deductibles continue to rise in hurricane-prone coastal areas, homeowners are facing the possibility of paying more out of pocket. On a $300,000 home with an increasingly common 5-percent deductible, the homeowner pays for the first $15,000 in damage, the New York Times reports. That's a stark contrast from the $500 standard deductible that was once common.

"I know the construction isn't cheap," Wiles says, "but in the long run, from both a durability and an energy standpoint, it just seems like a better way to build."

Finding an Innovative Builder

Since Florida builders already meet stringent codes, including the toughest-in-the nation Miami-Dade County codes, a home hunter in search of a truly innovative builder has to look for those who stand out for superior storm resistance. The Wiles learned about Tarpon Coast from an ad.

"Our goal is to exceed the most stringent Florida code for barrier islands and the Florida Keys," Romig says. "We are building in a 130-mph-wind zone, but our construction goes beyond the requirements of the 150-mph-wind zones."

The only way to do that is to have the combination of techniques and technology to back it up. Tarpon Coast Development did that in the Wiles' home.

"The key was finding a builder who was familiar with improved housing technologies, and also would take the time to listen to what my wife and I wanted in a new home," says Wiles.

"I felt a little bit better bond with Mike than others. He seemed more straightforward. We spent seven or eight months talking back and forth about different things and how we wanted to do things. Without that communication, we would not have gotten the house we really wanted."

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Content updated on 3/3/2008

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