How Hurricane Season Affects Homeowners


November is usually a quiet month for hurricanes, but the last day of the season isn’t over until November 30. Given 2017 was atypical, many parts of Texas and Florida are still struggling to recover post-hurricanes Harvey and Irma; damage estimates from those combined storms could be between $150 billion and $200 billion. But whatever a hurricane season holds, the most important thing for homeowners is to be prepared.

Know Who You’re Working With

When it comes to handling repairs and rebuilding due to damages caused by these recent hurricanes, it’s important to do your research and know exactly who you’re hiring to handle these jobs. One issue that could cause even more problems is working with unlicensed contractors. In the wake of destructive hurricanes, unlicensed companies will step in to take on repairs, but without permits or inspections. You may be unaware of code requirements or may even assume that they are waived during catastrophic events. They are not. It is important to make sure before hiring any contractors that they are both licensed and insured.

“Homeowners get taken advantage of during these times and end up with fines, having to do the repairs over again with permits and additional costs,” says Orlando Lamas R.A., president and CEO of Studio Lamas Architects and Three County Construction.

Windows and doors are some of the most vulnerable areas of a home, and are often in need of repair or replacement following a storm. There are a number of considerations to keep in mind when hiring a professional to handle these jobs.

For one, when it comes to common repairs needed after a storm, what are the services that do—and don’t—require a license? Installing new windows is a service that does require a license, so be sure to verify the company is licensed to do the work in the state where you’re located.

Also, be sure to keep payment matters in mind, and avoid paying cash up front before the work is completed. A deposit is usual; most reputable contractors will not require full payment upfront. And, be wary of those who ask you to write checks to an individual, rather than to a company. Before any work begins, you’ll want to get everything in writing, including exactly what work will be done, expected date of completion and the final cost.

Insurance Matters

It’s best to reach out to your insurance providers fast, as many handle cases on a first-come, first-serve basis. Tell them exactly what and where the damage is, as that will help them know where to look for it. You will need to have the number to your insurance agent and your policy number handy, so if you’ve not already done so, make sure to have these in a pre-storm emergency kit.

Most homeowners do not have flood insurance (about 80 percent of Hurricane Harvey victims in the Houston area were without). Your insurance provider may still be able to help. While policies typically exclude flood damage, water and wind damage are separate issues. The policy could cover, for example, water damage caused by certain types of wind damage.

Plan Ahead

One measure that can help mitigate damage caused by hurricanes and tropical storms is to make sure your home is safe and secure, and that includes protecting the doors and windows. If hurricane-strength winds get inside the house, this will cause an even greater force within, increasing the risk of the roof compromise. Shattered glass from doors and windows can also be a hazard.

Hurricane-resistant doors and windows are designed specifically to break at higher amounts of pressure per square inch (psi) than non-hurricane glass. Further, the glass is held in place by a strong interlayer of plastic between two pieces of glass. If your home doesn’t have this type of window or door product, take caution in advance to make sure the home is secure. Options include shutters as well as plywood that’s at least 3/4 of an inch thick. Make sure to install it properly for the best protection.

If you’re thinking about having hurricane-resistant windows installed, keep in mind that insurance agents sometimes offer a discount in hurricane-prone areas since such products can help mitigate damage and insurance costs. In fact, some states (including Florida) legally require that protected home discounts be available to homeowners.

Installing new doors and windows does come at a higher upfront cost than, for example, shutters or plywood, but it can help save thousands per year in insurance, depending on the area and the provider. At the same time, these upgrades will help keep the home protected against future hurricane damage.

There are also a number of other benefits that come from installing hurricane-resistant doors and windows. For example, the plastic interlayer that is used as lamination has sound-dampening properties. This gives a level of protection against outside noise. The interlayer also can reduce the amount of ultraviolet light allowed in from the sun, which could damage or fade materials in your home.

What’s Next for You?

Hurricanes in November may not be as common or as frequent compared to earlier months, such as September, but they can and do still happen. The key for homeowners in hurricane-prone regions is to plan ahead and be prepared, not just for what may or may not happen in November, but for future storms that may occur.

If you’re thinking the time may be right to replace and upgrade your home’s doors and windows to hurricane-resistant systems, Glass.com is here to help. Start your search here for dealers and distributors in your specific area who can help you navigate the purchase that will put you on your way to helping secure your home and your family during future hurricanes and disasters.

 

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