Choosing which FORTIFIED level is right for your home and budget can be a hard choice.
Luckily, there is an easy answer, hire a FORTIFIED Evaluator. Evaluators are the only professionals trained and certified to assess and certify your home meets the FORTIFIED standard. After you choose an Evaluator, the process of strengthening your home can begin. Your Evaluator must be involved from the start to the finish of your project so they can document and take photos of all the products used and how they were installed.
There are two slightly different processes for new homes and existing homes. Let’s start with existing homes.
I Already Live in My Home
If you currently live in your home, the first step will be a review of your home. The Evaluator will perform a thorough inspection, from top to bottom. This is much different than a normal home inspector. The result of this review is called a Current Conditions Report and it outlines the steps needed to upgrade your home to the FORTIFIED Bronze or Silver Standards. The Gold Standard of FORTIFIED Home is typically reserved for new homes or homes with access to the interior walls of the structure, such as when you are completely gutting and remodeling a home.
I’m Building a New Home
For new homes, you will want to get your Evaluator involved from the very start and introduce them to your builder, engineer and/or architect. Their insights may help you avoid changes to the design of your house later. New homes can be built to the Gold level of the Fortified Home standard easily, typically at low cost to benefit ratios. Throughout the building process, your Evaluator will work with the builder to make sure that progress in construction meets the requirements of the program. S/he will take photos, gather receipts, and conducts inspections, much like what is required from a bank for loan draw-downs.
When you’re ready to begin the improvement process, remember you must keep your Evaluator in the loop! We always recommend getting at least three bids from contractors when doing any work on your home. Finally, when your contractor has finished upgrading your home to the FORTIFIED standard, your Evaluator will deliver documents on your home to IBHS engineers who certify FORTIFIED homes. When the IBHS engineers affirm your home meets FORTIFIED standards, you will be issued a unique Designation certificate. You are now the proud owner of a home which is stronger compared to homes built to normal standards.
Additionally, a FORTIFIED Designation may also qualify your home for insurance discounts and other incentives such as tax credits or deductions. To take advantage of these discounts, make an appointment with your insurance agent and bring a copy of your designation certificate with you. If you are planning to sell your home, frame your certificate and hang it in the entrance or foyer. FORTIFIED designations increase the value of a home by almost 7% where it is recognized. See a more detailed description of the process on our website and the IBHS website.