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Building Beyond Code Saves Money

National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) undertook a study in 2017 to quantify the value of designing buildings to exceed the 2015 IBC or IRC for hazards including riverine flooding, hurricane surge, wind, earthquakes and wildfires with the objective of reducing losses. Results revealed that for every dollar spent on building above code, the amount of money saved ranged from $4 to $7 depending on the hazard.

The report suggests that architects and engineers can help clients understand the potential risks associated with a project and determine an owner’s risk tolerance and ability to mitigate those risks. Strategies to exceed minimum requirements of the 2015 building codes include:

  • For flood resistance (to address riverine flooding and hurricane surge), build new buildings higher above base flood elevation than required by the 2015 IBC;

  • For resistance to hurricane winds, build new homes to comply with the IBHS FORTIFIED Home Hurricane standards;

  • For resistance to earthquakes, build new buildings stronger and stiffer than required by the 2015 IBC;

  • For fire resistance in the wildland-urban interface, build new buildings to comply with the 2015 International Wildland-Urban Interface Code (IWUIC).

The NIBS report suggests that all major stakeholder including developers, lenders, tenants and communities benefit from resilient construction. The greatest benefits are afforded to building owners who don’t have to spend as much to repair and rebuild after a disaster, but there are other benefits also. Tenants benefit from having functioning shelter and places to work after a disaster, and the community benefits from reduced cost of disaster recovery both in terms of reduced loss of life and business continuity.

Source: Multi-Hazard Mitigation Council (2019.). Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2019 Report. Principal Investigator Porter, K.; Co-Principal Investigators Dash, N., Huyck, C., Santos, J., Scawthorn, C.; Investigators: Eguchi, M., Eguchi, R., Ghosh., S., Isteita, M., Mickey, K., Rashed, T., Reeder, A.; Schneider, P.; and Yuan, J., Directors, MMC. Investigator Intern: Cohen-Porter, A. National Institute of Building Sciences. Washington, DC.


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