Why The U.S. Builds Houses Wrong



The housing market is experiencing a boom not seen since 2006. However, natural disasters like wildfires and floods are also wreaking havoc on more and more American communities. Here’s how the U.S. can tackle building safer houses or retrofit existing homes for resiliency while keeping costs down, potentially mitigating the flow of domestic climate migrants.

Correction (March 18, 2021): At 2:13 this video incorrectly states the number of new housing units in the United States in 2020. The correct number is 1.3 million.

Existing home sales last year reached their highest levels since 2006. However, increasing numbers of climate disasters across the country have sparked concern about how safe homes are.

Potential buyers rarely wonder “what the flood plain is here, or do they look around and see this beautiful forest and say, ‘Oh, my God, it’s going to be on fire in two years?’” American Institute of Architects consultant David Collins said.

Last year was the worst fire season in U.S. history. In California, five of the state’s six-largest fires began within a two-month window. Overall, more than a dozen severe weather storms each dealt more than $1 billion in damages across the U.S.

Jack Cohen, a research physical fire scientist, advocates for home construction that better stops the spread of wildfires by including nonflammable construction materials and ensuring nothing exists between houses that an ember can engulf in flames.

“We need to define the problem as a structure ignition problem, not a wildfire control problem,” Cohen said. His Home Ignition Zone research is supported by the National Fire Protection Association, a part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

FEMA has a financial incentive in protecting America’s homes and encouraging local groups to follow the building codes set by the International Code Council.

Acting U.S. Fire Administration chief Tonya Hoover said the approximately 2,000 communities that have adopted the council’s building codes have saved the U.S. an average of $1.6 billion in annualized losses from flooding, hurricanes and earthquakes.

However, building homes that can withstand natural disasters are expensive and keep people, including the more than 500,000 thousand homeless counted in 2019, outside.

“A thousand dollars added to the price of a new home, at any time, in any way, … will eliminate 153,967 households from being able to buy that home,” said Greg Ugalde, immediate past chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.

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Does The U.S. Build Houses Wrong?

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35 Responses

  1. Riska Angelina says:

    investing in crypto now is really cool especially with the current rise in the market for now

  2. 183 373 Neil Coelho says:

    But why are US homes made of wood?

  3. Voncha Vivaldi says:

    "Little boxes, little boxes, all made out of ticky tacky…"

    Like everything American: "Lotsa" not "Betta".

  4. sree jith says:

    When I watch US home videos I always wonder why they are not using proper shades on the roof. Rain water can cause severe moisture damage to wood panel walls in longterm.

  5. Ray Phenicie says:

    America builds houses in flood plains and goes: "This is how we're going to keep building in this area where floods destroy thousands of homes every other year". In turn, developers expect homeowners to be responsible for checking the floodplain information to be 'responsible'.
    On risks of fires: developers are allowed by local governments to invade the urban wildland interface further each year but again, homeowners have to be up on the situation and not buy in those areas that are at high fire risk. Seems like builders and developers could take on some responsibility to stop overextending their reach.

    To find out more about the urban-wildland interface: https://academic.oup.com/jof/article-abstract/105/4/201/4734816

    Bottom line, this video dances around the real issues-not all areas of the landscape are suitable for development but builders want to cash in on the sellable desire to own a home so destruction of the environment is almost a given in all of this discussion. Basically a tone deaf approach supporting unsustainable development and then talks about ways to shift responsibility to home buyers.

  6. emma w says:

    so this is what emma chamberlain watches. i feel connected to her when we watch the same thing<3

  7. Sir Madog1956 says:

    None of the houses shown would meet German building codes, which were implemented for a reason – to protect lives.

  8. Alimah Reads says:

    This boom as turned me off because it’s clearly overpriced!

  9. Arindam Kumar says:

    I still don't get why Americans do not live in houses built from bricks and concrete as the rest of the world has been doing for the past century or so? I mean the majority of natural disaster that most Americans face are storms, tornados, hurricanes and forest fires. Concrete houses are resilient against these types of calamities. Building wooden homes makes sense only if you live in an earthquake prone place.

  10. anastasia46 says:

    what happens to your mortgage if your house is gone ? do you still have to pay the mortgage on a house that doesnt exist ?

  11. Miguel Torres says:

    Thats funny considering America has been building houses for the past 200 plus years and they are able to withstand just about anything. Fake News must be bored today or something

  12. Nick's DIY says:

    From what I've heard from friends is that the people approving the buildings get a lot of money under the table to approve things not up to code especially in NYC.

  13. the hillbilly gamer ! says:

    Massive election fraud that's the main thing the Democrats stole the White House with election fraud and who was in charge of investigating it the Democrats who said it was okay the Democrats and if you rhino traitors

  14. Glenn Davey says:

    Clean your iPhone camera, damn… special fx 😛

  15. trashy. _. says:

    POV: you just came from emmas video

  16. Leo Andhika Kurniawan says:

    Imagine building with such toothpicks and cardboard quality in Indonesia… We build them with bricks, stones, cement, concrete, and light steel and yet some of them still considered as still prone enough and not considered as comply with national standard. And yet, US considered us as third world country. I didn't know drywall until like a year ago when pandemic hit and I was on Youtube binge. And that little sprinklers is one of your major solution? Geez man we have no sprinklers here but we're good enough preventing fires. Again, ever considered about bricks and cement?

  17. Richard McQuarry says:

    AMERICA ALLREADY NEEDS JUST ABOUT EVERY CITY AND STATE REBUILT FROM WORLD WAR ONE TWO AND NOW THREE MAYBEE GOD IS TELLING YOU SOMETHING WHEN WE HAVE WARS AND ABANDONED CITYS GOING BACK CENTURYS AND CENTURYS AND ITS GOING TO CONTINUE MAYBEE WERE NOT SUPPOSE TO BUILD HOUSES OR CITYS MAYBEE WERE SUPPOSE TO BUILD INSOLATED TENTS AND GOOD CAMPING GEAR AND VISIT ALL THE ABANDONED CITYS AND STATES AMERICA AND THE WORLD HAS BIG TECH DOES ONLY ONE THING DESTROYS LIVES AND TURNS YOU INTO A VEGTABLE AND THATS ALL IT DOES BIG TECH KILLS FAR WORSE THEN DRUGS OR ACHOLE MAYBEE BIG TECH ARE ALL ROTTEN RED APPLES OFF THE SMART ASS TREE AMERICA WANTS MERCY AND PEACE IN A WAR TORN WORLD

  18. Nigel Mutepfa says:

    Why Tf do Americans use not use bricks to build? Did people not learn about the three little pigs?

  19. Larry says:

    Believe changes in codes, need to be reviewed to insure, no specific industry or product is benefiting from corporate pressure to require change. Everything is all about the $$$.

  20. Bass Kayakee says:

    It's always so amusing to me as an outsider. These people build a "house" in 10 days and put it on the market for $500k. Just hilarious!

  21. lily’s café says:

    was sent by emma LMAO

  22. Angelina Lopez says:

    Here bc of Emma

  23. AndrewPlayzz says:

    here from Emma

  24. John Harris says:

    What? Ahhhh… is the fear everything now. Good Grief…

  25. Siddhant says:

    Emma brought me here

  26. Xavier smith says:

    here from emma lel

  27. Giorgos says:

    POV: You came here from Emma’s video

  28. Gosia K says:

    Cardboard houses LUL

  29. Shoug Arifi says:

    Emma chamberlain anyone?

  30. Caitlin Gronow says:

    Why are you watching this because Emma Chamberlain mentioned that she was watching it…you don’t even live in the US

  31. RogerWilco says:

    The people that claim to follow the code requirements do not mention that those building codes are very outdated.
    And that there are strong lobby groups in politics to keep it that way. And building codes should be national, not local.
    There is too much money and corruption in US politics. Renewing the legislation every 2-3 years is only to keep lobby groups funding politicians.
    That Greg Ugalde looks and sounds like he's part of the problem.

  32. RogerWilco says:

    The US builds so many rubbish houses that become hard to maintain in thirty years.
    Their houses are also not build to withstand or avoid natural disasters, but to just be rebuilt after.
    We don't build in floodplains, near forests, on steep slopes. It's not allowed.
    Our houses are built out of brick, steel and and reinforced concrete, to last a century or more with ease.

  33. SULAF says:

    Where’s the people who came because of Emma?

  34. Isabella Toledo says:

    POV: you’re here from Emma chamberlain’s video

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