ORLANDO, Fla. – Preparing your home before a storm can be overwhelming, but if you start early enough, there are some improvements you can make that not only secure it during a storm, but can also cut the cost of your homeowners insurance in half.
Wind mitigation inspection is highly recommended for all homes in Florida. The purpose of the inspection is to determine how protected and sturdy the structure is in the event of a storm or powerful hurricane. The more secure your home is, the more money you can save on your insurance.
Steve Whipple, a wind mitigation expert, said homeowners can save up to 50 to 60 percent on their homeowners insurance if work is done to appropriately secure their home.
After a wind mitigation inspection is completed, inspectors fill out a 1802 form and turn it over to insurance companies for the discount to be credited.
“So the insurance commission stepped in and decided to create the 1802 form, which would basically help out the insurance companies as well as the homeowners” Whipple said.
Whipple gave us a breakdown of the top four things he checks out during an inspection that he said have the potential to save homeowners the most money while also making their home more secure.
It’s not just about the age or the type of roof covering you have, according to Whipple. Don’t assume it's secure just because it’s a new roof. The tie-down is just as important. The structure of your roof and how it’s tied down is even more important. Over the years, house construction has evolved and improved. The ideal setup up is to have “straps” securing your roof to your home, he said.
“The strap completes it, becoming part of the structure so your house and roof are brought together as one,” Whipple said.
Windows are another entry point to your home. Installing impact windows is ideal, Whipple said, but shutters also count toward your discount. Whipple said inspectors not only look for the material of your window coverings, like aluminum or wood, but also if they’re installed properly.
“You don't want to snap them in because you wont get any credit for that on your 1802. You will get credit, however, if you attach to the exterior of the window, no less than 3 inches from the window opening and make your fasteners no greater than 16 inches apart around the perimeter around your window,” Whipple said.
Next on the list is all of your exterior doors. Did you know the way your doors swing open matters? During a storm, winds try to work their way into your home, so doors that open inward are much more easily blown in, Whipple said. Don’t forget to protect any glass on your front door. Protecting the glass just like a window is recommended.
4. Garage door
The last item on the list, according to Whipple, is usually the most forgotten item in your home and also your largest opening: your garage door. Whipple said there are relatively simple do-it-yourself options that can stay on all year.
“You can put the reinforcement channels on them if you don’t have them," Whipple said.
Whipple said the reinforcement channels cost about $20 a piece and that the average garage door will take about six or eight of them. He said the work could be done over the course of a weekend.
If you're still browsing the market for the perfect home, Whipple suggests you request a wind mitigation inspection, along with a general house inspection, before purchasing.
Although that specific inspection can cost you $65 to $150, it could also save you thousands in the long run, Whipple said.
Bottom line: Don’t assume your home is ready for a storm, get it inspected just in case. Who knows -- you might actually have an upgrade that you didn't even know could qualify you for savings.