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Building Safety
Building Safety GraphicMay is national building safety month, helping to build awareness about the importance of building to code and maintaining structures.

Jacksonville Permitting, Planning & Zoning, and Building Inspections in partnership with the International Code Council offer safety ideas and tips for homeowners and contractors.

2016 Building Safety Month Topics
Week One - Building Solutions for All Ages

Data from the United States Census Bureau show that there are 76.4 million baby boomers. These 76.4 million baby boomers represent close to one-quarter of the estimated US population of 320 million.

Many baby boomers are nearing or entering their retirement years and making decisions about where they will live when they retire. According to a survey conducted by AARP, 89 percent of the 50-and-older population like their current homes and intend to remain in them for as long as possible. But aging in place is not just about the home.  The aging of the population will affect every interior environment—private, commercial and public.  

Architects, custom home builders and remodelers are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of aging-in-place clients, provided they fully understand the design solutions and products that make living in a home easier.

Online Resources
NAHB Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists 

ASID Design for Aging Council 

Design Tips for Baby Boomers Flyer

AIA Design for Aging Knowledge Community Seniors

Fire Safety Outreach Materials for Older Adults

Week 2 - The Science Behind the Codes

Have you ever wondered how a building was able to keep from falling down during an earthquake or strong wind? It’s the same answer for how your home stays warm during the winter and cool during the summer. The answer is the science behind the codes. Building codes are made up of requirements for how to design and construct homes and buildings. These code requirements are based on science that involves research in many different areas, including flood proofing, fire-resistance, structural strength, wind design, sustainability, safe drinking water, airflow, energy efficiency, and more. When science reveals ways to improve an area of building safety, these findings can be included in the code requirements and standards.
That is why it is important for communities to adopt the most up-to-date building codes, so new construction and remodeling or repair of existing buildings can truly benefit from the science behind the codes. Resources:

Online Resources

FEMA Building Science Mitigation Assessment Team (MAT) Program – Under the MAT Program, FEMA deploys teams of investigators to evaluate the performance of buildings in response to the effects of natural and man-made hazards. MAT findings and recommendations are used to establish improved disaster-resistant construction codes and standards, designs, methods, and materials used for both new construction and post-disaster recovery. Read about recent examples of code changes resulting from or supported by Hurricane Sandy MAT observations in FEMA’s Fact Sheet: Building Science Support and Code Changes Aiding Sandy Recovery

FEMA Building Science Mitigation Assessment Team (MAT) Program 

Engineering for Kids

How Buildings Work

Engineering Facts - Building Facts

Week 3 - 
Learn From the Past, Build for Tomorrow

Making sure your family is prepared for any natural disaster is important. Below are some of the steps you can take to prepare your family and protect your home from natural disasters. Your actions can ensure that no matter what Mother Nature brings, you, your family and your community will be resilient.

Here are a few tips to follow from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes – (FLASH®) when preparing your family for any emergency.
  1. Develop a family disaster plan that includes a list of food and water supplies, evacuation route and documents needed for each member of your family and supplies for your pets.  
  2. Taking shelter is critical in times of disaster. Sheltering in place is appropriate when conditions require that you seek protection in your home, place of employment, or other location where you are when disaster strikes. 
  3. Visit America’s PrepareAthon! to learn more about how to prepare for earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and winter storms. 
  4. Help prepare your family and community by Taking Action to Prepare 

Protect Your Home
The power of these natural disasters can be overwhelming. While you can’t necessarily stop natural disasters from happening, there are steps you can take to increase your home’s chance of survival, even in the face of the worst Mother Nature can dish out.

Build to Code
Although you have little control over the occurrence of hazards in your community, mitigation efforts such as building code adoption and enforcement is one of the strongest strategies jurisdictions can take to protect a community against the effects of natural hazards. Mitigation increases occupant health and safety during a disaster, protects the local tax base, ensures continuity of essential services, and supports more rapid recovery from disasters. The development and widespread adoption of building codes is beneficial in that it has created a uniform regulatory environment in which design professionals and contractors are held to a set of standards adopted by and applicable to the jurisdiction in which they work. More importantly, building codes provide you, your family, and your community protection in the event of a natural disaster. 

The International Code Council (ICC) family of codes covers all aspects of construction. Specific products of interest may include: ICC 500-2014 Standard and Commentary: ICC/NSSA Design and Construction of Storm Shelters

For more information get FEMA’s Building Code Resources and Building Codes Toolkit. 

Week 4 - Building Codes: A Smart Investment

The biggest investment most people will ever make is when they buy a home. Homes represent security, a place where people will live, raise their families, and share life with others. Whether you own or rent a home, following the building codes during construction or remodeling can help protect your health and safety, and your investment as well.

The building codes include research from experts that help ensure every phase of the construction process is done correctly. In addition to helping make your home safe, the building codes can also help make your home more energy efficient, use less water, and conserve resources. 

If your construction project does not comply with the codes adopted by your community, the value of your investment could be reduced. Property insurers may not cover work done without permits and inspections. If you decide to sell a home or building that has had modifications without a permit, you may be required to tear down the addition, leave it unoccupied, or make costly repairs.

Cost Implications in Areas Subject to Natural Hazards

While hazard mitigation can increase the costs of building in a hazard-prone area, benefits such as potential reductions in insurance premiums and reduced repair time following a natural disaster may offset the higher costs. In the floodplain, the latest building codes incorporate higher standards that reduce risk and can reduce insurance premiums. Examples in FEMA’s Coastal Construction Manual show that adding one foot of freeboard above the base flood elevation can reduce annual flood insurance premiums by approximately 20-45%.

Insurance should never be viewed as an alternative to damage prevention, but hazard insurance to offset potential financial exposure is an important consideration and sometimes a requirement for homeowners in areas subject to natural hazards. Flood insurance is offered through the NFIP in participating communities and is separate from homeowners insurance. Wind insurance coverage is generally part of a homeowners insurance policy, but private companies offer last resort insurance to homeowners in coastal areas in some states. Earthquake insurance is an addition to a regular homeowners insurance policy.



NFIP Community Rating System 

Designing for Flood Levels Above the BFE After Hurricane Sandy (Recovery Advisory 5) 

Reducing Flood Risk and Flood Insurance Premiums for Existing Residential Buildings in Zone A (Hurricane Sandy Recovery Advisory 7) 

FLASH Homeowners Insurance Guide 

2015 Building Safety Month Tips
Week 1 -  Don't Get Burned
Week 2 -  Disaster Safety and Mitigation
Week 3 -  Pools, Decks & Grill Safety
Week 4 -  Going Green and Sustainable

2014 Building Safety Month Tips

Week 1 -  Fire & Safety Awareness

Week 2 -  Disaster Safety and Mitigation
Week 3 -  Backyard and Pool Safety
Week 4 -  Energy Heating & Cooling

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