Despite recommendations from fire officials, codes to require wildfire safety measures in Western states have often been halted by cost concerns. For home construction in California, a new study by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) reveals that the costs can actually be minimal. Installing additional wildfire safety measures, beyond current codes, adds 2% to 13% to the cost.
California's wildfire building code, passed in 2007, was designed to reduce a home's risk of igniting. Wood roofs aren't allowed. Decks and siding must be fire-resistant. Attic vents need to be covered in mesh to prevent embers from getting through. Homes must also have 'defensible space,' limiting the amount of flammable vegetation immediately around it.
Building a new home to meet those wildfire standards can cost roughly the same as a house that doesn't meet them, according to a 2018 study by IBHS and Headwaters Economics. That's because some fire-resistant materials are more affordable than their counterparts. Another study from the National Association of Home Builders found the costs range from $1,827 to $44,888, depending on whether more costly siding material is chosen for the house.Read More