Despite the risks associated with wooden frames in hurricane-prone areas, developers in Florida are continuing to embracing this construction method for new homes. While wood-frame construction is cheaper and quicker compared to concrete, it is also less reliable in withstanding hurricane-force winds.
In most parts of the United States, wood-frame construction is the standard due to its affordability and efficiency. However, Florida experiences frequent and powerful storms, making it a unique case. After Hurricane Andrew devastated communities in 1992 with winds reaching 165 miles per hour, contractors in South Florida phased out wood-frame construction. The state responded by implementing stricter building codes, leading to a significant decline in the use of wooden frames over the past three decades.
Wood-frame construction continues to be allowed throughout the state of Florida, and it is experiencing a resurgence in waterfront communities such as Jacksonville and Tampa. This trend is also evident in southwest Florida, where new wood-framed cottages and apartment buildings are being constructed. The devastation caused by Hurricane Ian last year, which resulted in the loss of numerous wood-framed cottages and claimed the lives of 149 individuals, has not deterred developers. In fact, they are seizing the opportunity to rebuild and are acquiring vacant land in Fort Myers Beach. These developers are now constructing new wood-framed single-family homes, elevated on concrete columns, with some properties fetching prices exceeding $1 million.
Approximately 1,700 apartment buildings in Florida, accounting for 8% of the state’s housing inventory, are made with wood frames, according to CoStar Group. Currently, there are thirteen buildings with wood frames and over 3,700 units under construction in the state. Over the past few years, more than two dozen similar buildings have been erected along or near the coastlines. The cost-effectiveness of wood frames has become more appealing due to rising construction costs, and the recent drop in lumber prices has made wood an attractive option for waterfront communities looking to rebuild quickly after tropical storms. Developers emphasize that wood-framed homes are now more robust, with stronger connections between wood planks and hurricane-proof windows. Architects and engineers also assert that wood frames can withstand hurricane-force winds.
Concrete construction is considered the safest option against powerful winds, according to engineers. Even a small flaw in the design or construction of a wood-framed house can cause it to collapse during a storm. Wood-framed structures are also more susceptible to water damage and termite infestation, weakening the overall structure. Unforeseen conditions can further compromise the strength of a wood-framed structure. Insurance costs for wood-framed structures have significantly increased, particularly in the state, driving up the overall building price. However, wood homes are still cheaper to build due to lower lumber costs and shorter construction timeframes.
In my personal opinion separate from bargainhousenetwork.com I think it is irresponsible to continue building homes out of Wood. The state of Florida should be looking for ways to make homes last longer under such harsh conditions. Hurricanes are a yearly issue in Jacksonville and Tampa. Homes are destroyed yearly. So is it not in the states best interest to Build longer lasting homes? Let me know what you think in the comment’s. Is Florida making the best decision?