This story appeared in the August/September issue of PRC’s Preservation in Print magazine. Interested in getting more preservation stories like this delivered to your door? Become a member of the PRC for a subscription!
The Louisiana Department of Insurance is introducing a new grants program to provide up to $10,000 for homeowners to upgrade their roofs to standards set by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IIBHS), a nonprofit scientific research and communications organization. The Louisiana Fortify Homes Program is designed to “help Louisiana homeowners strengthen their roofs to better withstand hurricane-force winds,” according to the department’s website, www.ldi.la.gov/fortifyhomes.
Legislation passed in the last session of the Louisiana Legislature now requires all insurance companies writing wind policies in the state to provide a discount to homeowners whose properties meet the “FORTIFIED Roof” standard created by the IIBHS. “After the work is complete and your home is upgraded to the FORTIFIED Roof standard, you will be issued a certificate that can be shared with your insurer for a discount on your premium. When you sell the house, the certificate can be passed along to the new owner,” the insurance department said.
Homeowners cannot yet apply to the program; the state estimates the application process should launch in October. Once it launches, the grants will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis to homeowners who meet the program’s qualifications. The program’s grants will be paid directly to the roofing contractor. Homeowners will be responsible for all costs not covered by the grant amount, including the cost of an evaluator to confirm the standards have been met.
The Preservation Resource Center held an online program July 11 to explain the system.
The FORTIFIED Roof system “was specifically designed to prevent damage that commonly occurs during high winds, hurricanes, hailstorms, severe thunderstorms, and even tornadoes up to EF-2. No matter what type of roof you have — shingles, metal or tile — the following FORTIFIED Roof requirements will make your home stronger.”
The program requires roofs to be built with:
- Stronger edges: Roof damage often begins when wind gets underneath the roof edge and begins ripping it away from the home. To help protect this vulnerable area, FORTIFIED requires specific materials and installation methods, including a wider drip edge and a fully adhered starter strip, that when used together create a stronger system.
- Sealed roof deck: If wind rips off your roof covering — such as shingles, metal panels or tiles — it exposes the wood beneath and allows water to pass through the gaps and enter your home. FORTIFIED requires roof decks to be sealed to prevent this type of water damage.
- Better attachment: Instead of common smooth nails, FORTIFIED requires ring-shank nails, installed in an enhanced pattern, to help keep the roof deck attached to your home in high winds. In fact, using ring-shank nails nearly doubles the strength of your roof against the forces of winds.
- Impact-resistant shingles: In hail-prone areas, FORTIFIED requires shingles tested by IBHS to show they can withstand hail up to two inches in diameter. These shingles outperform typical Class 4 shingles when tested against realistic hailstones and will better protect your home.
Louisiana homeowners interested in the grant program must have a homestead exemption on the property; must have wind and flood insurance; and the home must be “in good repair as determined by a FORTIFIED evaluator,” the department said. Homeowners are responsible for paying the evaluation fee, which the state estimates to typically range from $300 to $500.
More information about the FORTIFIED Roof standard is available at www.fortifiedhome.org.
In addition to the grant program, homeowners “may be eligible for a state tax deduction or insurance premium discount for voluntarily strengthening their homes against storms and hurricanes. For details, click here.