The interim study determines if the Legislatures want to move forward with possible statewide policy changes; which is the next step if they deem it necessary. There are so many components to this interim study; beyond just basements. Our Marketing Report was to demonstrate, YES THERE IS A DEMAND from the consumer.
We believe the consumer wants choices. To include basements and wind proofing construction features that they're not being offered from the mass majority of Real Estate industry service providers; whether that be real estate agents, sales reps or builders.
We were told by another presenter that consumers "Are being given choices and want granite counter-tops over basements." We at S. Walker & Co. respectfully disagree. If the consumer is educated to focus on what elements they cannot change when building a home versus what elements they can (ie: basements vs cosmetic upgrades) we think 25-50% of consumers would choose differently. Many consumers are told in Oklahoma that "Basements cannot be built" and never given a choice. Our local MLS doesn't allow the input of features such as basements or storm shelters for Realtors® to choose when entering a listing or for consumers when searching for a home. The data is simply not there to search.
Media from all over the world had one similar question during May's storms this year, "Why doesn't Oklahoma have basements and build homes that are tornado resistant? If California/Japan can build homes/buildings that are earthquake resistance, and Miami/Houston can build homes/buildings that are hurricane resistant then why can't Oklahoma build tornado resistant homes? Why do we keep building houses the same way and letting them get blown apart over and over?" They asked this because construction, engineering and technology has caught up and we're not using it. The insurance companies are asking the same questions; take a look at our rising premiums and deductibles for less coverage. We use to rank #25-26 in affordability of homeowners/auto insurance. We're now #3-4 in the most expensive states to insure.
This isn't just about F5 tornadoes. Those are extremely rare. Engineering has progressed to better withstand high winds and the engineers, architects and contractors during the interim study produced scientific and empirical evidence, demonstrating Oklahoma is way behind the times in construction materials in regards to high winds. For example, we have homes blown apart by EF1's because the garage door is cheap thin metal. Walk down the street of any tornado stricken community and the first thing blown in is the garage door. When the garage door fails it can then ultimately cause the house to explode. A house that otherwise could easily withstand an EF1-2 and maybe a 3; which we do frequently experience in Oklahoma. We have no building standard for garage doors. Tie backs on roofs; same thing. Simple, easy, effective and we're not doing it. The mass majority of our tornadoes and damage caused by tornadoes in Oklahoma aren't from EF5s and indisputably those do obliterate everything in their path and may God have mercy when they blow through! Best to be underground.
Below is a picture of a home struck by a EF1 tornado (wind speeds).