Superstorm Sandy Aftermath: How to Rebuild Healthier, More Durable Buildings.
Guest post, by Jay M. Gentry, Founder and President of Conceptual Communciations & Training (CCT)
Editor's note: In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, there's been a lot of talk among industry leaders about what disasters like this mean for the Home Performance industry. We particularly liked this email from Jay M. Gentry, which has been reprinted here with permission.
In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, as individuals, families, communities and municipalities down the coast are struggling to assess the damage and to look toward the rebuilding process, it's worth considering how we could rebuild damaged properties in such a way as to minimize the risk posed by similar natural disasters down the road -- and, perhaps just as importantly, to minimize the risk posed by contaminated floodwater and wet buildings that are sure to create health and safety problems in affected buildings for years to come.
A few points that may be worth considering for building science and home performance professionals:
This storm will be followed by a group of business/contracting teams that are called "storm chasers" (they are actually considered a customer group by building product distributors and dealers) who are set up to capture the insurance related business following such events. These storm chasers will bring expertise in working through the insurance claim process (which is worth something in itself) and will get a big share of the repair business.
The Opportunity for Home Performance:
Many of these repairs could be better handled by Home Performance contractors trained in the whole-house approach, and wary of quick-fix solutions that could pose health and safety hazards to occupants of buildings that have been affected by the storm.
But in order to compete with the storm chasers, it will be important for Home Performance contractors to be able to deal with the insurance paperwork as well as the energy efficiency incentive programs, in tandem. I would imagine that the possibility of doing repairs, combined with efficiency measures would be attractive to homeowners and building owners, but only if you can get the word out quickly enough. Speed is extremely important in this case.
Positioning the pitch as an opportunity to utilize the insurance support to not only get your home repaired, but upgraded in terms of efficiency, durability, and health is an appealing offer.
In areas where there was flooding (pretty much all based on rain predictions) the sealing of envelope leaks is crucial in that it reduces the amount of bad air (mold, and general crud) from beneath the soaked homes. Flooding is notoriously dirty, and there is likely to be press coverage of how contaminated the water is -- so this value prop has a potential to be picked up and supported by media coverage.
I would suggest trying to get all local papers, radio stations, TV, etc. in your region on board with the "do your repairs with an eye toward having a more healthy and durable solution" offer. I suspect that press, etc. will be looking for experts, and that's a good opportunity building science professionals to throw their names in the hat and make themselves known.
It's worth keeping in mind that the most frequent "repairs" needed will be roofs, siding, gutters, awnings, porches, sun-rooms, etc. In order to get in the game with the highest percentage of potential customers, it's a good idea for Home Performance folks to have relationships with resources in their area for at least the roofing, siding, and gutters components. These could also become complimentary relationships even after the storm damage is long past.
Those are my two cents.