Architects designing homes along the Jersey Shore have to think about more than just style. Devastation caused by 2012’s Hurricane Sandy has people thinking about the practical applications of certain designs. By choosing shore home designs that can withstand strong winds and floods, residents of the Jersey Shore could find that their properties survive upcoming storms.
Many people rebuilding along the Jersey Shore have turned to modular homes. Modular homes don’t offer any additional protection against extreme storms, but they are less expensive than traditional homes. This makes them attractive to homeowners who want to rebuild but may not have a lot of money.
The affordability of modular homes may also appeal to people who believe that storms will continue to ravage the area. When you don’t have much faith that any type of house can withstand hurricane winds, it makes sense to choose an inexpensive option that still feels comfortable and looks attractive.
With modular homes, people have a chance to replace their houses quickly without spending too much money. Yes, it’s still expensive, but it’s not nearly as expensive as using wood to rebuild a home on site.
Some people rebuilding on the Jersey Shore see storms as something that they can combat. To do so, they have turned to concrete homes that can withstand extremely fast winds.
Building homes from concrete slabs offers much more security than building them from wood, as high winds that splinter wooden walls don’t have much of an effect on those made of concrete. That helps protect the home as well as anyone who decides to stay behind and face the storm.
Concrete homes also have the advantage of keeping prices low. The longevity and low price has made concrete appealing to many homeowners.
Just because the houses are made of concrete doesn’t mean that they look like military bunkers. With the right touch, they can look much like normal houses. They just have sturdier walls that don’t give in easily.
It also makes sense to use domes as a way of reducing the damage caused by storms. Flat surfaces give wind plenty of area to push against. That’s one reason wooden walls cave to the wind of storms like Sandy.
Domes make wind act differently. By using domes, people cause wind to blow around their homes. They have essentially added aerodynamic features to their houses. With curved walls, the wind doesn’t have an opportunity to cause much damage.
That’s a smart construction method for people who believe that they can outwit nature. It’s certainly a better idea than rebuilding the exact same types of houses traditionally found in cities like Atlantic City and Long Beach Island. Those that didn’t pass the test last time won’t pass future ones.
The Impact on Home Insurance
No matter what type of home design New Jersey Shore residents try, they will likely face higher insurance rates. The National Flood Insurance Program has kept rates artificially low for years. Subsidies and regulations made it much easier for residents living in flood and storm-prone areas to afford the insurance policies they needed.
Despite the efforts of politicians from New Jersey, New York, and other at-risk areas, it seems likely that flood and home insurance rates will rise quickly in the near future.
That’s because of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act, which Congress passed in 2012, the same year Hurricane Sandy trampled the East Coast.
The act will slowly dismantle subsidies that kept flood insurance affordable in these areas. Eventually, insurance policies will reach market prices.
The good news is that some New Jersey home insurance companies are trying to keep their rates as affordable as possible. The bad news is that market pressures will cause everyone’s rates to go up, even if they try to protect themselves with domed houses made of concrete.
Have you noticed any new trends inspired by houses built along the New Jersey Shore? Do you think more people will adopt these housing styles, or will they largely influence people living in storm-ravaged areas.
Matthew Thompson has been a freelance writer for over seven years. He is the editor of The Louisville Lip and The Written Craft.