Builders Deliver Homes and Hope to Devastated Communities

Filed in Disaster Response, Home Building, Homeownership by on June 25, 2018 0 Comments

As we celebrate the final week of National Homeownership Month, we’re highlighting how NAHB members are delivering the American Dream to home owners and communities impacted by natural disasters.

As previously reported, modular housing can help devastated communities rebuild more efficiently. Homes can be built quickly and offsite in a controlled environment, saving time and costs, while still providing consumers with a fully customizable home.

Rebuilding efforts following Superstorm Sandy, which devastated the New York and New Jersey coastlines in 2012, demonstrate the power of modular housing to help residents recover.

Over the past several years, NAHB members, including Express Modular, Westchester Modular Homes and Ritz-Craft Custom Homes, have helped rebuild the shoreline communities impacted by Sandy.

modular home

A new modular home is assembled onsite for a Superstorm Sandy victim in Long Island, N.Y. Photo credit: Express Modular.

“Most people assume that rebuilding is the first thing that displaced home owners think about. But they often have more immediate concerns so it usually takes at least three months before they start looking at options,” said Express Modular President Ken Semler. “And then they want a new home as soon as possible.”

This sense of urgency makes a modular home an ideal choice for owners looking to rebuild quickly. Express Modular offers a Quick Recovery Program that helps expedite the process even further, generally saving home owners an additional two weeks. This means homes can be built in about four weeks.

Yet for all its potential, modular housing still faces challenges for builders working in communities that are rebuilding. After hurricanes, FEMA often will reestablish base flood elevations, which determines how high new homes can be built. This process alone can take months. Local governments also may create additional restrictions, which adds another level of bureaucracy and causes more delays.

Then there is insurance: Many home owners don’t have the right coverage or are under-insured. Local building permit offices also quickly become overwhelmed with requests. And it can take several months or longer for government assistance checks to arrive.

For many Sandy victims, this meant rebuilding was a long process that continues today.

“It took six months for our first customer to get permits to build their replacement home and we delivered the first modules a month after that,” Semler said. “FEMA took several months to reevaluate the areas flood maps, delaying everyone. They raised the base flood elevations and no one wanted to build until they knew they were going to be compliant.

“Add to that the wait for disaster money that had to get allocated to the state and then the months the state took to decide how to distribute that money, and then for many, this meant waiting more than a year until they know what their options were,” he said.

In the aftermath of last year’s hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria – which devastated parts of Texas and Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands – the rebuilding process will be a multi-year effort that is just now getting underway.

HUD announced earlier this spring $28 billion in disaster recovery assistance and affected states and localities are beginning to release plans for how they’ll spend the money will be spent. Those plans are made available for public comment before being finalized and HUD must approve the final plans.

Modular housing offers the opportunity to expedite what is often a long and emotional process of rebuilding.

To find a modular home manufacturer in your area, please contact Devin Perry of NAHB’s Building Systems Councils at 202-266-8577.

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