About 120 major disasters have struck somewhere in the U.S. since 1996, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But homeowners are showing some resilience. Following hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, or floods, they are rebuilding bigger and stronger homes that can better withstand the forces of Mother Nature.
A flood on Memorial Day in 2015 dumped a foot of water in Houston, damaging 800 of 2,400 homes alone in an area called Meyerland. About 150 of those homes were rebuilt new.
Jennifer and Ben Deneen were one of those homeowners who opted to rebuild. Their one-story home was completely flooded and ruined. Instead of just repairing the home, the couple opted to rebuild a home that could better withstand future flooding. They rebuilt a two-story home in its place, took the opportunity to also make remodels they had been wanting, all at a new price tag of around $1 million.
Ed Wolff, president of Beth Wolff REALTORS®, said a study his firm did following the 2001 tropical storm Allison in Southeast Texas found values of homes in affected neighborhoods dropped significantly initially. However, two years later, values were substantially higher than even before the flooding. Also, square footage of the homes was higher significantly too.
Homeowners are using the money from insurance and also dipping into their savings for upgrades. Emergency assistance and insurance payouts usually require extensive paperwork that can delay reconstruction. New building codes are often implemented following a natural disaster and that can also complicate rebuilding efforts. As such, homeowners are planning renovations that they know they’ll need to mostly finance too.
Those upgrades include the gamut too, from focusing on the kitchens and bathrooms and maybe even adding in extra bedrooms to adding in disaster-proof features. For example, homeowners may add more drainage around the exterior of the home to help protect against future flooding.
Source: “After a Disaster, Families Rebuild an Even Better House,” The Wall Street Journal (Dec. 29, 2016)