In 2010, Smart Home America helped to coordinate pilot projects to build several of the first disaster-resistant FORTIFIED homes in Alabama with Habitat for Humanity. These homes were sponsored by Travelers Insurance and built to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety’s (IBHS) FORTIFIED standards.
The pilot homes proved so successful that Travelers Insurance funded the construction of 20 Habitat for Humanity homes in Alabama, Mississippi, New York, and Connecticut. In 2016, Habitat for Humanity, Travelers Insurance, and Simpson Strong-Tie developed a permanent program for Habitat for Humanity by creating the Habitat Strong Program. The pilot homes built by Habitat for Humanity in Baldwin County, Alabama, in 2010 served as a springboard for growth in the state, showcasing the ease of constructing FORTIFIED homes and the return on investment of resilient construction. Alabama now leads the Nation in FORTIFIED construction.
Today, Habitat homes can be built to FORTIFIED Roof or FORTIFIED Gold Standard if local affiliates use the Habitat Strong Program. In Coastal Alabama and Mississippi, all Habitat for Humanity affiliates have used FORTIFIED standards since 2012. Across the nation, incentives and grant opportunities encourage Habitat affiliates to adopt the Habitat Strong Program and build to FORTIFIED standards. Using these beyond-code standards not only ensures stronger, more resilient homes but provides added benefits to homeowners, such as lower homeowners insurance costs and reduced disaster recovery time after a disaster.
Examples since the implementation of the FORTIFIED and the Habitat Strong Program can be cited across the nation. Most recently, five houses built in Panama City, Florida, under the Habitat Strong program were relatively unscathed from Category 5 Hurricane Michael in 2018. Studies and research performed by IBHS have shown that FORTIFIED performs better and costs less to repair after a storm than standard code-built homes.
Over the last five years, the use of FORTIFIED Home standards has exploded in popularity. There are now over 14,500 homes designated to meet the standard. Time and again, FORTIFIED has proven to perform better against hurricanes and severe weather, receiving less damage than non-FORTIFIED homes.
Travelers Insurance continues to support the Habitat Strong Programs by providing thousands of dollars in grant funding to Habitat for Humanity. Travelers also supports FORTIFIED Home standards and resilient construction as a member of IBHS. Smart Home America was the recipient of the 2018 Travelers Excellence in Community Resilience Award and both organizations continue to work to further spread the knowledge about disaster-resistant building practices.