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Prepare for a Natural Disaster When Insurance Coverage and Builders Are Not Available

Updated: Sep 26

The statistic probability of your house being destroyed by a natural disaster is increasing every year, and you may not be able to get insurance for your house a decade or two from now.


You'll see below how this potentially places you in an impossible and dire situation, but I'll also explain how you can safeguard yourself from it.


Home insurance companies in some regions of the US have stopped providing new or are refusing to renew existing insurance policies due to the rising insurance claims. Meanwhile, insurers for homes across the rest of the US are expected to begin a steep increase in insurance premiums that will continue for years (link). This shift is just beginning in Canada as well (link).


Here's why the insurance thing is a major problem for you:

Every year, the number of destroyed homes increases due in large part to increasingly extreme weather combined with continued urbanization. Your house is more likely every year to suffer devastation by fire, flood, earthquake, ice storm, hail, severe wind storm, or even hurricanes.


The cost of construction of a house that merely complies with the minimum of the building code has increased at a geometric rate for the past twenty years. Read my article (here) that explains why, but an important factor is the deficit of the necessary skilled construction labour.

When a devastating event occurs, rebuilding requires a simultaneous engagement of the local builders. They're already insanely busy everywhere in British Columbia from Vancouver Island to the Lower Mainland to the Okanagan and everywhere else just with current residential construction, and they're already expensive. Ratchet that up a notch as rental construction may take off with the GST/PST exemption and the provincial legislation pushing for greater density. Now blow that up when a disaster such as the one in Kelowna this past summer happens and dozens or hundreds of homes need to be rebuilt at once. Even if you could afford to pay exorbitant rates out of pocket, who's going to rebuild your West Vancouver home? Every builder in the Lower Mainland is booked for the next year. Are you going to hire a home builder from the BC Interior? Everyone in the Okanagan who isn't still rebuilding from the last forest fire is busy with continued demand in Kelowna for new homes and other buildings.


I'm confident that 99.9% of people are aware of this general situation to some degree and are responding with the attitude of "damned if you do, damned if you don't. I can't afford to build a regular house now, so how could I afford to build some super-strong house?" It then becomes a gamble; you save a large amount of money and are betting that the future doesn't hold a disaster that costs you several times that amount. However, like in Russian roulette, every year that you dodge the bullet makes that a riskier bet.


The only cost-effective solution that I see bringing you confidence and peace of mind for the future and for the safety of your family is a cost-efficient renovation or new build now to create a house that will stand up to natural disasters and last more than your lifetime. Obviously, I'm not unbiased - of course as an architect I'm going to tell you to build or renovate. Put that aside though for a moment and read the writing on the climate wall.


There are ways to reduce significantly the construction cost of a new house or renovation (link). Here is another article on reducing the construction cost (link). I have spent the past five years focusing on economical strategies to achieve Passive House - a traditionally very expensive venture in North America. However, your house doesn't need to be Passive House certified or a bona fide Net Zero home to be climate resilient.


Climate resilient design and construction entails a multitude of strategies to address a diversity of hazards and must integrate them through clever solutions. The UltraHome concept - a prototypical concept which I've developed - goes far beyond simply energy efficiency and instead embodies ultra high-performance to endure both time and disasters. The path to an UltraHome is my SAPPHR Strategy™ - a rigorous process that captures all the requirements for a home and integrates all the systems to lower the cost of construction.


To learn how the SAPPHR Strategy™ would make your next or renovated home a LEGEND that brings you peace of mind and decades of maintenance-free comfort, click on the button to book your Diagnostic Session - a free 30-minute phone call with me.




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