By Dani Sheehan.
Starting October 2, 2023, Louisiana homeowners will be able to apply for FORTIFIED Roof™ grants to provide roof replacements for families that may not otherwise be able to afford a new roof. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Louisiana in 2005, insurance companies folded or fled the state, forcing homeowners to use state run insurance as a last resort, with premiums up to ten percent higher than private insurance. The private insurance market slowly rebuilt, and competition has been restored over the last several years, but with an influx of hurricanes since 2020, the insurance crisis continues to be a source of anxiety for Louisiana residents. We recently sat down with Kenny Matherne from Allied Xteriors, to discuss a new grant program available that will hopefully relieve some of this burden from homeowners.
Kenny is very excited about this grant program and believes it will help improve roofing standards across Louisiana while also helping homeowners to lower costs. He explains, “FORTIFIED is actually a building standard that has been developed and is a designation that is awarded and monitored by IBHS, which is a nonprofit that is funded and run by insurance companies. The goal of both IBHS and the FORTIFIED standard is to develop a building code that is designed to be more resilient to weather events, specifically hurricanes in the Gulf South area.”
Success for this program hinges largely on the buy in and follow through from roofers. To take advantage of the grant program, he says, “You have to be certified to be eligible to receive the funding from the state as a roofing contractor. Homeowners can only work with certified FORTIFIED contractors to receive this funding as well.” While anyone can install a FORTIFIED roof, Kenny says the benefit of using certified contractors with this program is to help homeowners understand how important it is to find a roofing contractor you trust.
Louisiana’s building codes as of last January are almost identical to FORTIFIED Roof standards. Unfortunately, with inflation and these more stringent building codes, Kenny says it costs about 20% more to put up a new roof to code than it did last year. Homeowners can be very resistant to investing in the changes, especially when there are still contractors in the state offering roofs at lower costs because they aren’t installing to code. Kenny’s advice to contractors is this: “Don’t view stricter codes as a hindrance, view them as a tool to be better at your job... Our mission is to put up products that homeowners, business owners and anyone who lives under a roof can trust.”
Replacing a roof with a FORTIFIED roof is an up-front investment for homeowners, but this grant offers financial assistance to reduce that burden. When contractors install a FORTIFIED roof, a homeowner will be better protected against weather events like hurricanes. This in turn reduces the need for insurance claims, reducing state spending and encouraging more competition in the private insurance market. Contractors increase their profit margins up front and build increased credibility with their customers by providing a product that holds up over time. It’s a win for everyone involved.
Dani is a writer for the Coffee Shops and AskARoofer™. When she's not writing or researching, she's training for trail races and working on her yoga teaching certification.
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