5 Must-Ask Questions Before Buying a Property in Hurricane Alley
Hurricanes are a common, and sometimes devastating, extreme weather event that impact our coastlines, in particular the Southeast and Gulf Coast states. The frequency and the severity of the storms throughout this region have given it the nickname of "Hurricane Alley." However, hurricanes can - and do - make landfall all up and down the East Coast.
When choosing to purchase a home in this hurricane-prone area, it is important to understand the risks of the region and take some necessary precautions when you are purchasing a home.
If you are looking at a pre-existing home that has either withstood a hurricane or had hurricane damage, be sure to ask these questions before you buy:
1. Was the home flooded in a storm? This should be the first question that you ask especially if you are looking at waterfront property. If so, how much water came in and how long was the water sitting in the home?
2. What kind of damage did the house sustain? How was it fixed? Was the house stripped down to the skeleton or were only the walls repaired?
3. Was the home thoroughly and completely inspected and treated for mold? Even if mold can't be seen, it poses a risk for respiratory illness when the spores are inhaled. Can the sellers provide proof in the way or work orders or receipts that this work was taken care of properly?
4. Has the wiring been checked for corrosion? One of the other problems, in addition to mold and water damage is salt water corroding wires when a house has been flooded. Salt water eats away at metals so any electrical outlet, and heating and cooling units that were underwater need to be replaced.
5. Were permits pulled for the work that was done? You want to make sure that you get a list of the work that was completed after the hurricane along with the required permits. Without building permits there is a possibility that the purchase of the house will not be able to proceed.
Next, get a home inspection. When you have decided to purchase, make sure that you have a professional inspection completed. While this is a standard procedure in home buying, it is an especially important part of the process for a home in a hurricane-prone region. You will receive a detailed report regarding the condition of the home. A poor inspection report and a lengthy list of repairs could indicate that you may not want to consider going through with the purchase, at least at its current price.
Look for these features. There are some features that make one home more resistant to hurricanes than another and are definite advantages when choosing a home in Hurricane Alley, especially if the home is by the water. Square, hexagonal or octagonal floor plans with multiple sloped roofs (like a hip roof) sustain wind damage well.
Also, look for the use of hurricane clips and roofs that were constructed with nails and not staples. Look for a home with a strong foundation and if they are in a flood-prone area, for an elevated structure. Many houses that are located on the coast are equipped with hurricane shutters.
Finally, get flood insurance. Research the location of the home that you are considering to determine if it is in a known flood plain. It will be extremely important to shop around for flood insurance to make sure that you are adequately covered financially if the next hurricane makes landfall in your area.