EEBA's High Performance Home Blog

Building Faster and More Resilient After Wildfires

While bushfires in Australia continue to burn an area larger than Denmark, wildfires are not far from our minds here in the U.S.

Building Faster and More Resilient After Wildfires

The Insurance Information Institute reports that between 2017 and 2019 there were over 176,000 wildfires across the U.S. - mostly in California. In the 2017 Tubbs Fire in Napa and Sonoma counties over 5,800 structures were destroyed. In 2018 almost 19,000 structures were consumed in a 4 hour period in Paradise, California. And just last year, the Kincade Fire in Northern California destroyed 374 buildings - 174 of those were residential structures.

According to Forest Service data, wildfires in the U.S. are now lasting 78 days longer than they did in the 70’s and are also burning twice as much area. Currently, 42 U.S. states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Island, and the District of Columbia, use or have adopted the International Fire Code (or an edition of the specific code), although almost a dozen of these do not use the particular code as a standard for all buildings.

Many who lost their homes in these wildfires are finding it difficult to rebuild. While some homeowners were underinsured to begin with, the increased costs for labor, as well as the cost of building a new home from the ground up, have blocked rebuilding efforts.

Either by downsizing and adding an Accessory Dwelling Unit for future rental income, or shifting to alternative building methods, those who are able to rebuild are looking at ways to increase value to their homes.

Off-site modular construction companies like Dvele can add value because of the speed. Dvele claims they can get a homeowner into their new home in 6-7 months after finalizing your design plan and budget. At one point Dvele was even offering a discount to fire victims (although I don’t see where it is advertised on their website).

Plant Prefab, a sustainable modular home builder, offers fire victims a “free initial site assessments...50% off feasibility service, $5,000 in FREE upgrades and 5% off design/admin fees for LivingHomes.”

What are your opinions on rebuilding in high-risk wildfire zones, building materials that should be required, and mitigation measures that should be implemented? We’d love to hear your opinions!

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