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Resilience or Consequences

I wrote the following as a thread on twitter yesterday, I thought it would be simpler than writing a blog post. It wasn’t.

I do have the greatest empathy with the #LouisvilleCO residents who lost their homes.

We can’t predict the future, anymore residents could when they bought their homes. Many of the residents were just hoping that their home prices would rise to the astronomical levels they have. Some unfortunately only bought their homes in the last year and have a different perspective. Yes, of course we all hope our homes rise in price, the most important thing to remember is, your home is where you live. Once you treat it as an investment, it attracts other risks.

Like other investments, the most important thing we should remember as a community is “Never Subsidize Losers With Winners”. We have to build a resilient community, we can’t let homes be built to less than the most resilient standards.

My estimate is that rebuilding to the current(2021) standards in the building code will cost less than 10%, possibly less than 5% of the total cost of rebuilding. Instead of protesting the cities adoption of more resilient building codes, the residents should be protesting the insurance companies that let them be uninsured, as most claim to be.

If you expect your home to be an investment, remember that investments can rise and fall. Effectively, built to the 2021 standards, these homes will be better and more resilient than 98% of the other homes in Louisville, and that’s an investment both in your home and your community.

Footnote: You can see the Louisville heat/thermal footprint from space, almost all of it is from gas, including mine. I wish my builder would have offered electric/heat pump heating when it was constructed in 2014, they didn’t and wouldn’t. US Residential gas prices are currently the highest they’ve ever been, and are 3x the price they were in January 1981. Last year, 2021 they were the highest they’ve ever been. They reached just shy of $21 in August 2021, the summer! The only reason they dropped is because the federal government released millions of cubic feet of gas.

I took over our electric account a full month before we closed on the house so I could apply for the solar permits to install solar as soon as I could. I’ve never paid a dime for electricity since moving in, my solar array has generated 74.7 MWh and I’ve put 1.42 MWh worth of electricity into the grid. In just 6-years I’ve saved some $10,000. I bet on the prices rising and being able to cutback on use, I expect to pay off the installation and purchase price much earlier than estimated.

I have made minor edits to the text below to correct errors, or to add clarity to the tweets.

My home insurance policy is due for renewal on May 1st, given the #marshallfire I thought I better check the full rebuilding costs. I called @Nationwide direct as I didn’t use an agent to buy policy. Debbie @ Nationwide helpfully produced a home report for me.


I’ve been reading through #louisvilleco city council minutes to get an idea what people are being quoted per sqft for rebuilding costs. What’s interesting is seeing the emails that include city council.

There are lots of lessons to be learned from the emails. Here are a few.

1. City council doesn’t respond. If you want an answer write to a person/dept.

2. If you copy city council, your email/email address will become part of the public record due to CORA (Colorado Open Records Act)

3. If you forward emails to city council everyones comments and email addresses becomes public (see 2.)

4. If you are complaining about something, get your facts right otherwise your complaint will tank and is easily dismissed. example. Complain about the added cost of sprinklers based on net zero or 2021 building codes is so wrong. My home was finished in 2015, it has sprnklrs

5. Take a step back, while we all hope that the #marshallfire was a never repeated event, chances are it will be. Trying to assert the council has an agenda other than adopting the best available standards that protect you and your neighbors doesn’t fly unlike fire.

6. we had to pay for 2018 Building codes in 2015, because the city already had existing riders on their building codes.

7. Installing sprinklers is primarily aimed to suppressing internal fire, of course external fire will likely burn house down. If a fire starts inside your home, without sprinklers, it will much more likely spread to my home, thus making my sprinklers redundant. Does that mean we should all build w/o sprinklers? No, it means you should rebuild with.

8. attacking the city council personally misunderstands the role of the council. Their job is to listen to the citizens/voters and respond appropriately. That doesn’t mean they personally have to be climate angels. It means they have to listen to the evidence presented and vote

9. If you watch the video of the meeting where the net-zero ordinance was passed, you’ll see that the council was a finally balanced decision, they responded to the arguments and evidence put before them in the final vote to approve. This wasn’t a great conspiracy or grand plan, it wasn’t incompetency, they were not railroaded by an industry lobby, they responded to reason presented at that meeting. They voted in the best interest of the city and the future.

10. It’s inevitable that all homes will eventually have to meet the 2021 IECC, with amendments, and the Zero Net Energy Appendix at some point in the future. The alternative is just accepting more #marshallfire type disasters.

11. Sure, we can play a game of chicken, put off adopting anything and see how long we can last. So can every other town and city. At that point climate change becomes an unstoppable constant.

12. “Yes, but China, India [insert country here] are not taking it seriously and if it happens, it will happen anyway.” Seriously, that’s your position? Have you been to those places, I have, multiple times and many others. They are nowhere near as developed as the USA and Europe are.

13. This is our problem, if we don’t take solving it seriously, why should they? It’s not the end of the world, but it’s the end of the world as we’ve known it for the last 50-years.

14. The only alternative is resilience. Build your home to the best standard you can. Can’t afford to rebuild a 4-bed home as resilient as it can be, build what you can afford or get out and let someone else build.

15. Your home will be as ready as it can be. That means in 10-15-20 years it will be better positioned and thus more valuable than the other 95% of homes.

16. At some point there will be a mandatory conversion. The UK has already committed to convert all it’s homes to heat pumps by 2050.

17. I’m young/old enough to remember our home being converted from coal to gas. The UK has done it before, they will work out how to do it again. I’m sure many other developed countries have/are working it out. No it’s not socialism or communism, it’s realism.

18. Think it’s scare mongering? It isn’t, Miami is already woefully under budgeting to raise roads and homes due to flooding that’s already started. California, is already looking at ways to address coastal erosion and places like Pacifica where homes have been falling into the sea for 20-years.

19. Yes, @ThisAmerLife did an episode on this a couple of weeks ago. Of course faced with the inevitability of homes falling into the sea, what did they do? The Real Estate industry poured money into an election, made the mayor a scapegoat and he lost at the poll. What did it solve? Nothing.

picture of house dangling over cliff which has been washed away by the sea

20. Yes for decades people have made out like bandits from escalating house prices, many will continue to do that for decades to come. Listen to the TAL segment on Pacifica though, home 1ft from the cliff edge? Where can you get sea views like that?

21. Depending on the government to save you, overspend building ineffective and expensive sea walls, bail you out from flooding and fires and massively underinsured debts?

Would I fight for everything I can get if my home is burned down or flooded? Hell Yes.

22. But it’s time to accept that you have to invest in the future, not the past. If you can’t afford to rebuild to current standards and to be resilient. We can’t afford to either subsidise you, or allow you to build something that we know will not perform at it’s best either for the environment or in the case of another big wildfire.

Apparently this is happening on Sunday at 1pm

So, lets get this straight, the victims are underinsured, probably through no fault of their own, so we should allow them to rebuild less resilient homes that will last for 50-75 years and just thumb our nose at the impact?

Originally tweeted by Mark Cathcart (@cathcam) on February 22, 2022.

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