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Christopher Flavelle

Inside the Lobby Against Tougher Homes

Stricter building codes could save Americans time, money and heartache after natural disasters. Homebuilders aren't having it.
But it was affordable.

But it was affordable.

Photographer: Laura Buckman/AFP/Getty Images

In April, some 1,200 homebuilders, inspectors, architects and engineers gathered in Louisville, Kentucky, to debate the standards that should guide construction of the next wave of U.S. houses. Engineers had a seemingly unobjectionable proposal: Make roofs in coastal areas less likely to fly off in a hurricane.

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates the shift would increase the cost of a home by less than 1 percent. The measure's sponsor, an engineer at a research group backed by the insurance industry, told me the new standard could usually be met simply by changing the way a roof's components are nailed together.