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How strong is your home? We talk Fortified Homes with Fred Malik from the IBHS
Episode 169117th February 2024 • Around the House® Home Improvement: The New Generation of DIY, Design and Construction • Eric Goranson
00:00:00 00:41:03

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We sit down and talk with Fred Malik, Director of FORTIFIED from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety. This is a great organization that researches what you can to so that your home will be more resilient to a storm or wildfire. This is a great interview where we talk about those steps you can do if you are building or remodeling your home. Some of these easy steps could change how your home survives a big storm or wildfire. For more information: https://ibhs.org/

To get your questions answered by Eric G give us a call in the studio at 833-239-4144 24/7 and Eric G will get back to you and answer your question and you might end up in a future episode of Around the House.

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Information given on the Around the House Show should not be considered construction or design advice for your specific project, nor is it intended to replace consulting at your home or jobsite by a building professional. The views and opinions expressed by those interviewed on the podcast are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Around the House Show.

Mentioned in this episode:

A new kind of decking and siding from Millboard

For more information about the latest in decking and cladding head to https://www.millboard.com/

Baldwin Hardware

Baldwin Hardware

Transcripts

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[00:00:04] Fred Malik: around the house. Yeah, for sure. And we have studied how buildings interact, particularly with high winds and rain for a long time. Over three decades now, IBHS has been studying the performance of different types of building systems and how they perform in high winds and severe rain. We have a one of a kind research facility located in South Carolina where a full size wind tunnel, we can put full size houses in there.

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[00:00:51] Fred Malik: When it comes to remodeling and renovating your home, there is a lot to know, but we've got you covered. This is [00:01:00] a.

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[00:01:16] Eric Goranson: I don't care where you're located in the U S one day. It seems like you've got a 60 degrees in the winter time. And the next day it's 18 and snowing and it is doing some damage to our homes. And I'm still picking up around my place from the last one. We have Fred Malik from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, but they've got this amazing program called Fortified Home.

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[00:01:40] Fred Malik: Eric. Thanks, man. Appreciate it,

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[00:02:04] Eric Goranson: And it's something I know in the Pacific Northwest, we got to do a lot better of.

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[00:02:21] Eric Goranson: Yeah, in the month of January, great example. We had a basically a frozen hurricane coming here into the Pacific Northwest. We had a couple days of 18 degree weather, which is super cold for us. And then we had winds coming down the Columbia Gorge here that were 80 to 100. And we had trees coming down and just destruction.

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[00:02:47] Fred Malik: Yeah. Down on the Gulf coast and up through the hurricane prone portions of the East coast. Yeah. We've been using something called a graduated scale of design wind speeds for a while now, which helps to improve performance [00:03:00] by up leveling the, or leveling up the components and cladding in particular, and some of the other structural design elements of the house.

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[00:03:25] Eric Goranson: Absolutely. This is one of those things that when you, it's, it was shocking. Cause I was looking at it, going down there, looking at the building codes. Cause we were building up those, those little demonstrations down there. And I'm like, wow, we're tying the top plate into the foundation. This is stuff we should be doing around here.

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[00:04:03] Fred Malik: That's the whole goal. But the areas of the house that are the most vulnerable, even at lower wind speeds are things like the roof and your garage door, believe it or not.

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[00:04:22] Eric Goranson: But I think people really don't realize or forget that is one big sale that's covering their garage door. And if you've got that budget friendly steel one, those things taco in pretty quickly.

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[00:04:49] Fred Malik: And ratings for the garage doors be included. Now that's been a staple in hurricane prone areas for, for a long time, especially in Florida, Florida really brought that to, to, to the [00:05:00] country after hurricane Andrew, until recently, there really hasn't been a whole lot of transparency for folks that are building away from the coast and so builders.

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[00:05:24] Eric Goranson: Yeah, that's, you got me thinking about that garage door because once that garage door comes in, now you've got the, the lift on the roof system. And so all of a sudden. Those maybe traditional hurricane rafter ties, those little pieces of sheet metal are the only thing holding the roof on the building.

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[00:05:49] Fred Malik: Yeah, back in the day when I first started learning how to build a house, I was building in Virginia and we used to put those little things called hurricane clips and I was, I was well away from the coast and I, as a new.

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[00:06:15] Fred Malik: And as long as the windows and the doors and all those features stay intact, the air. Pushes on your house, it moves around your house, but your house is designed to take that load in those places. But if the garage door fails, which is the largest opening in the house, then that air is rushing into that rigid balloon and it has to go somewhere.

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[00:07:07] Fred Malik: Wow. That's crazy, isn't it? If you, basically you read a different way, if your garage door was damaged, you are very likely that you had some sort of severe structural damage to your home. Wow. That's, that's the kind of risk that, that particular component of your house can either prevent or really contribute to, to, to some sort of damage.

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[00:07:33] Fred Malik: Yeah, exactly. And you're really, if you're a homeowner. You're, you're really counting on the building contractor and the code officials in your location to make sure that you got the right stuff there.

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[00:07:54] Eric Goranson: it just as a homeowner, you're out there. You're like, Hey, my garage door is ugly. It's an old one. I'm going to go put one on, you go out and get prices [00:08:00] for it. And you're just talking to garage doors installers.

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[00:08:25] Fred Malik: Yeah. And you just, you just made an excellent point that this is not. The kind of mitigation that, that maybe costs you a fortune or really is something that you have to really think long and hard about, because it's going to be years before you can get a payback on that. That's a, that's a relatively simple and affordable thing to do to upgrade your door.

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[00:09:00] Fred Malik: What does it look like? How does it enhance my curb appeal? And, and those are reasonable and, and, and, uh, justifiable things to be thinking about. Sure. But you also want it to perform. And if you don't know the design pressure rating of your door, then you really don't know whether it's gonna protect you.

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[00:09:36] Fred Malik: 35 and plus 35, negative 35. That's critical information that now your supplier can get you a door that meets those parameters.

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[00:09:58] Eric Goranson: You've got everything from [00:10:00] tornadoes and wind storms across the Midwest. It's basically something that every homeowner should be taking a peek at because I don't think there's, I bet you there's not a house out there that goes, Oh, we don't ever get wind.

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[00:10:17] Fred Malik: There were 19 severe storm weather events, each one of them causing a billion dollars in damage or more. And when you hear that number, a billion dollars of damage, that means homes like the ones you and I are living in, that's where the damage is happening. And it's just 19 storms caused over. 19 billion worth of damage.

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[00:10:55] Fred Malik: Yeah,

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[00:11:20] Fred Malik: Yeah, for sure. And we have studied how buildings interact, particularly with high winds and rain, for a long time. Over three decades now, IBHS has been studying the performance of different types of building systems and how they perform in high winds and severe rain. We have a one of a kind research facility located in South Carolina where we have a full size wind tunnel.

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[00:12:00] Fred Malik: And how does it escalate? The most vulnerable system in the house is your roof.

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[00:12:23] Fred Malik: system.

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[00:12:42] Fred Malik: You don't have to be an expert and talk to somebody like you're in the trade. You just have to say, Hey, I know about this Fortify thing. Here's their checklist. I'd like my roof to tick all these boxes. So we can, we solve a lot of those, those communication challenges and those technical issues for homeowners that all they have to say is I want a fortified roof, [00:13:00] but to your point, I think one of the things that you mentioned, and I think it's a very typical way that folks look at their roof, but they're primarily focused on the cover.

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[00:13:25] Fred Malik: How thick is that? Then on top of that, there should be a redundant layer of roofing that that creates what we call a sealed roof deck. So, a lot of times in modern houses, especially now, we have these big 4 by 8 sheets of roof sheathing that come together and every time you have. Two sheets coming together.

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[00:14:12] Fred Malik: And, and so we talk about, we talk about sealing up the roof deck and we've got five different techniques for doing that. So you don't have to just be married to one specific thing. There's lots of options depending on where you are, what kind of roofing you're using, what climate zone you're in. There's lots of ways you can achieve a sealed roof deck.

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[00:14:56] Fred Malik: We did a study once that showed that for every [00:15:00] inch of rain an hour that falls on a bare section of a roof deck, not the entire roof deck, a bare section of the deck that can allow nine bathtubs of water to come into your house for every inch of rain that falls. Where you are in the country, you guys get a lot of rain.

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[00:15:39] Fred Malik: Yeah, you're right. The secret to a fortified roof Basically three steps that can be summarized as nail it down, seal it up, lock it in, nailing it down, refers to that roof deck, making sure that's properly attached and it's not going to go anywhere, sealing it up. We've already talked about, but the locking it in piece is the edge deals with how the edge details are done.

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[00:16:18] Fred Malik: And so they're very vulnerable. And if you, if you're not paying attention to those details, as a lot of people do, they gloss right over that stuff. If you're not paying attention to those details, you're right. You can have damage that gets started for some reason. And once it starts. It just escalates from there.

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[00:16:57] Eric Goranson: I think we should talk a little bit. Let's jump off [00:17:00] materials for a minute and talk about fortified home and really what that is, because. What you guys are doing, I love, because it's not a. But you're not one manufacturer out there pitching a product. You're out there pitching better products for a home independently.

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[00:17:24] Fred Malik: Yeah. So we are as a 501 three C nonprofit research organization, our focus is really how do we learn what we have to know about making buildings more durable. And then how do we get that information out to people when, at the right time, when they're making important decisions, sometimes you may be making a decision today that you're not going to have an opportunity to revisit for 10, 15, 20 years.

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[00:18:02] Fred Malik: That's what Fortified really is designed to be as a way to get information out to the folks that need it when they need it. But Fortified is based on the science that we do at, at IBHS and we've looked at how buildings interact with these severe weather events and we've identified what is the hierarchy, what happens first at the low and most frequently at the lowest intensity of wind and rain.

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[00:18:47] Fred Malik: So we don't deal with things like HVAC and plumbing, electrical, that kind of stuff. We deal with what is making your roof vulnerable to wind and rain. How can we secure that building envelope, things like that. Fortified is broken down [00:19:00] into three, three pieces, roof, silver and gold. We've already talked a bit about roof.

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[00:19:19] Fred Malik: But if you are closer to the coast, then you start to look at things like windows. Egress and ingress and egress doors or personnel doors in and out of the house Attach structures like porches and carports. How are those attached to the house? Things like that. And then if you want to have the supreme level of resilience, that's where you go to gold, fortified gold.

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[00:20:01] Fred Malik: Which is a good bit of the country fortified includes a verification step. So we train independent evaluators across the country. We're in 27 States now over 60, 000 homeowners living under fortified roofs. Now we'll do another 15 to 17, 000 this year, but we train independent evaluators. We also train roofing contractors to know how to install fortified roofs.

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[00:20:42] Fred Malik: They send that up to me and my team. And we have a staff of experts that looks at every single job, reviews every single picture and says, Hey, you know what? This meets the fortified standard. We send out a certificate and that certificate then can unlock things like lower insurance rates. [00:21:00] More, it can give you more choices when it comes to property insurance, there's tax incentives.

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[00:21:19] Eric Goranson: Yeah, and it's amazing. A lot of people, we've got people all coast to coast in the country to listen to this radio show and podcast and worldwide.

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[00:21:52] Eric Goranson: You can't even tell, except for some concrete foundation, but something was even there to begin with. Yeah. And it really shows how. [00:22:00] Planning ahead on the building side of things can make a difference of the house standing or not being a sign

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[00:22:18] Fred Malik: Our sister program, which you just referred to is called Wildfire Prepared, and it follows a very similar sort of philosophy that we do on the fortified side, but it really says, what is the thing that poses the most risk and what can we do about it? And on the wildfire side, by the way, I didn't mention it earlier, but at our research center, we actually can burn stuff too.

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[00:23:03] Fred Malik: That's where a lot of combustible material tends to accumulate around our house. And if you have those fuels up close, your home is really vulnerable and that's going to create, it's going to require a change in how we as consumers and homeowners think about our property. Cause we love to have beautiful stuff right up close to our house.

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[00:23:39] Eric Goranson: those beautiful evergreen shrubs and landscape bark and even just lack of maintenance can be the difference of having a beautiful home and filing an insurance claim for the whole,

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[00:23:51] Fred Malik: You know what? You just said something that's super, it's super important, Eric, and that is this concept of maintenance and deferring maintenance, the, when it comes to an [00:24:00] existing home, whether you're trying to resist high wind or rain, or you're trying to resist wildfire types of scenarios. Homeowner maintenance plays a big role in landscape maintenance in particular, when it comes to wildfire.

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[00:24:27] Fred Malik: And there's a lot of DIY stuff that you can do to help to minimize the potential impact of severe weather. It does not necessarily take a re roof to do it, and we have some really great resources for folks. We have a website called ibhs. org. If you go to ibhs. org, we have on our website things called the Thunderstorm Ready Guides.

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[00:25:10] Fred Malik: And unfortunately, what we see is once water gets in the cascade of damage and the amount of financial loss that can occur. Grows rapidly. So even those small gaps, just going around with a tube of caulking and caulking, those gaps is a really great way to, to minimize wind and rain risk also helps out with wildfire, to be honest with you.

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[00:25:52] Fred Malik: You're going to be looking at some pretty serious damage. So just those kinds of things and what makes it super DIY [00:26:00] friendly is these are things you can do in small chunks. You don't have to do it all at one time and like under pressure under threat when that storm is right around the corner. You can just, you can bake it into bite sized chunks.

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[00:26:16] Eric Goranson: Yeah, that's great advice. And one thing that I learned here with our recent storm, we just had a big one here in the Pacific Northwest in January, and I live in a suburb of Portland, Lake Oswego, and we had those winds come in. And in our little town here of just tens of thousands of people, we lost over a hundred trees that were 150 foot tall fir trees.

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[00:26:57] Eric Goranson: So they don't fall on my legally. I [00:27:00] can't do it. So what can I do to my home to even help resist that? And it's something that I was just starting to think about going. Wow, there's so much more we could be doing out there.

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[00:27:18] Fred Malik: There are, there are limitations. However, if you can't move or relocate or take down the entire tree, you, you more than likely for the health of the tree and for the safety of the property, you can. Trim limbs, and we see a lot of limbs that fall and cause a lot of that damage, even if the whole tree doesn't come down and again, we're places where the ground can get really wet.

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[00:28:01] Fred Malik: And when I landed on the ground immediately after we had about 18, 000 fortified homes that went through that, we had. Less than a 10 that reported any sort of significant damage in that storm. And most of the ones that did have damage had something that was caused by tree fall, right? It's some sort of tree fall, but the wet ground got so saturated that these big giant oak trees were laying over.

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[00:28:33] Eric Goranson: Yeah. I still have areas in town here where the, uh, the lanes are reduced because there's trees laying down next to the, the main four lane highway, where they've got a lane, half a lane close.

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[00:28:58] Eric Goranson: Or maybe personal storm [00:29:00] shelters where you build something up in the home or out back or something like that that would be Resilient for that just for your own personal safety and then unfortunately let the insurance company help you put the house back if it does get a tree strike because you're right other than building something that's going to look like a serious fortress there's not much you can do when you've got a 6, 000 pounds of tree hitting the side of the

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[00:29:20] Fred Malik: Yeah, look, obviously, property insurance has a place in the market, right? It has a role to play. And there are some risks that, you know, when it comes to mitigation, the gap between what you're able to do and what may happen, insurance is there to take care of that. But we can really, as homeowners and consumers of insurance, we can really.

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[00:29:59] Fred Malik: [00:30:00] And that's, that's the crazy part. So if we keep our focus on what are the things we can do. Then there there's a, there's opportunities to help us with the risks that are maybe a little bit further, a little bit more comprehensive to deal with, but storm shelters to your point, 1 of the things that that is really encouraging to see.

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[00:30:40] Eric Goranson: Yeah, that's smart. And to highlight your point earlier of maintenance, I have 13 of those big trees in my yard. I didn't lose a single one of them, but I have an arborist out almost every year that walks through and takes a peek at stuff to make sure things are looking good. Yeah, I've got a dump trailer full of limbs, but that's an easy cleanup compared to severe damage like that.

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[00:31:03] Fred Malik: Yeah, you can't, you can't, there is no substitute for preparedness and taking, taking Action to, to really understand, Hey, do I have something I need to be worried about? And sometimes that means you got to get a professional.

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[00:31:35] Fred Malik: These are the things that you should be thinking about because nobody wants to see somebody who's really focusing on preserving their economic. Capabilities wasting their money on something that they just maybe shouldn't have to spend their money on that right now. If they, those dollars would have been better allocated if they could have focused on, say, their roof versus.

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[00:32:19] Fred Malik: And then we stack them so that people know what to do.

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[00:32:41] Eric Goranson: These are important openings that again can lead to more damage. And I love what they've been doing. In the Gulf Coast states, as far as having very impact resistant windows, that'll something gets loose out there and hits the window that you haven't just created a big freeway into your, in your living room, for

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[00:33:05] Fred Malik: Modern codes are in force and, and being enforced. We've been looking at design pressures and impact rating for a long time. And why is design pressure important for a window? Again, when that wind is pressing against that window and rain is blowing against that window, the pressure that builds up on that window can force the water in.

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[00:33:47] Fred Malik: You can have the best window in the world. You can have the best door. I know I'm preaching to the choir, but when I go out and I look at these post disaster scenarios, or even when I'm out on a sunny day and I'm walking through jobs that maybe aren't falling fortified or [00:34:00] whatever, I see some really questionable installations and flashing.

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[00:34:29] Fred Malik: There's just a, there's a lot of technology. A lot of innovation has happened in that space to make our jobs as builders. Way easier on that front, but what really it comes down to is the devil's in the details. You've got to pay attention to the details.

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[00:35:09] Eric Goranson: Somebody missed

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[00:35:32] Fred Malik: All the hard work of figuring out what, how do I install this product? It's all there. You just gotta be able to, to be committed. Right. You gotta have, you gotta be intentional. And when we talk about resilience as a whole, as a building industry, we really have to be in order for us to make the building environment and our building stock more resilient, we as building professionals need to be intentional.

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[00:36:27] Fred Malik: Fred, I

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[00:36:47] Fred Malik: it.

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[00:37:02] Fred Malik: org. Keep an eye on Fortified Home. And, and we share all of our information for the most part for free. And we will, we'll share some stuff later this year about what we were learning about different kinds of roofing materials and different expectations people might want to have. But yeah, more to come on that later.

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[00:37:23] Eric Goranson: man. Excellent. We're starting to run out of time here. I want to put a nice bow around this, but people are thinking about building a home. What's their first steps to be

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[00:37:45] Fred Malik: And you need to tell them, Hey, this is what else I would like you to do. And the other thing that they need to do, the one B, step one B in the process is we have a free provider network directory. And you can click on that and find a [00:38:00] professional in your area, particularly the fortified evaluator. That's your partner.

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[00:38:14] Eric Goranson: And if you're in a wildfire zone, does the same rules

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[00:38:22] Fred Malik: org. And you can, again, find, there's a really clear set of instructions on how to start that process and get an inspection done, particularly if you're in an existing home, but the standard is up there for anybody to see. It's a free download.

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[00:38:50] Fred Malik: Yeah, more than a little peace of mind. It gives you a lot of peace of mind.

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[00:39:02] Fred Malik: the process. Yeah. So two important websites, IBHS. org. Take a look at our thunderstorm ready guides for homes and commercial businesses.

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[00:39:14] Eric Goranson: Fred, thanks for coming on today, man. I appreciate what you guys are doing and it's making a huge

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[00:39:24] Eric Goranson: You've been listening to around the house.

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