It’s past the time to do a cost-benefit analysis on Florida’s hurricane codes and the effect these codes are having on homeowners and affordable housing. If you ever have the opportunity to be in a room with two or more building code officials who are fanatics about their job, you will wonder, “How in the world did anyone ever build a home in the past without government?” Most building code officials believe their job is to protect the public from unscrupulous contractors and building methods, but they fail to tie in the huge price homeowners are paying for this protection.

Consider this: Floridians are spending billions of dollars more each year for enhanced building codes implemented after Hurricane Andrew, which is one of the primary reasons why there is no such thing as real affordable housing in Florida. These new codes were sold to the public as a way to reduce rates for homeowner’s insurance. Have you seen a reduction in your rate? The truth is, had Hurricane Matthew wobbled 50 miles to the west, the damage to Central Florida would have been epic and most of the new building code requirements would be in the same bulldozed pile of debris that is sent to the landfill. Unless people are willing to live in a bomb shelter with submarine doors, homes will suffer damage during hurricanes.

People look for homes they can live and raise children in and personalize. A concrete structure that cannot be penetrated is called a prison. So if we are building homes rather than maximum security structures, let’s focus on reducing costs so more families can actually afford a home. Take, for instance, impact resistant windows used in hurricane zones — they cost two to three times more than a regular window. These windows are designed to withstand direct debris hits of 50 mph without failing, however, failing does not mean the window won’t have to be replaced. An impact-resistant window will crack upon impact by debris but it won’t allow the wind to penetrate the home. Had Hurricane Matthew hit Florida directly, there would be millions of dollars of impact-resistant windows that would be in need of replacement at twice the cost or more of regular windows.

The same holds true when it comes to most hurricane code shingles sold in the local market. Most are rated to withstand a three-second wind gust of 150 mph, but the structural integrity of the shingles during this type of wind gust would be destroyed. Within a year after a hurricane such as Matthew, homeowners would see shingle granules in their flower bed and yard as the shingles on the roof crumble. It really makes you wonder the real value of a shingle warranty in the state of Florida, given that most insurance companies will not insure a home with a roof older than 18 years.

Hurricane surges and flooding are a completely different issue because there is little that can be done to protect a structure from a 10- to 20-foot tidal surge. This is the reason why FEMA flood maps have been rewritten and why flood insurance premiums increased so much. In fact, most of the damage from Hurricane Matthew along the coast was from water, not wind. The story was the same during Hurricane Katrina. There is not a building code that protects a home’s structure from a storm surge, except elevation codes.

Hurricane codes, especially the ones dealing with wind, should be re-evaluated and judged in the prism of the cost to benefit ratio. Too many people need affordable housing to placate an insurance and building code lobbyist who is content to complicate the building process.

Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc., and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Radio Show heard every Monday at noon on My790AM WLBE in Leesburg.