Wilma Teaches a Lesson

© 2005 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Winter 2005
Author: Tom Wadsworth
Page 78

Garage Doors and Openers in the Media

Wilma Teaches a Lesson

Source: Brittany Wallman, “Homeowners Say Costly Retrofitting to Protect Against Hurricanes is Worth It,” Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Nov. 7, 2005.

Citing several real-life situations, this enlightening article compares the cost of building hurricane-ready structures versus the cost of repairing hurricane-unready structures. The hurricane-ready approach is vastly less expensive.

In October 2005, one contractor won a $693,000 contract to protect Broward County Courthouse windows from hurricane winds. A week later, Hurricane Wilma beat him to the windows. The estimated cost to repair about 175 courthouse windows? $4 million.

The story cites other examples of pleased owners who paid for impact glass or a hurricane-resistant roof or garage door.

Editor’s Note: Hurricanes seem to teach homeowners the old Fram Oil Filter lesson: “Pay me now, or pay me later.”

Solution to Katrina: Enforce the Code

Source: Ryan Chittum and Theo Francis, “Building Houses to Stand,” The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 29, 2005, page B1.

One month after the Hurricane Katrina disaster, this Wall Street Journal story turned away from the fault-finding frenzy surrounding FEMA. Instead, the WSJ followed building experts who offered a productive discussion about avoiding similar disasters in the future.

The story quotes Tim Ryan of the International Code Council. “If you build (homes) to the latest standard of codes, they are going to resist something like a hurricane or earthquake,” he says. “Where you see a lot of damage is homes that don’t meet that criteria.”

Among the specific solutions cited are appropriate garage doors. If a garage door fails, says Ryan, the storm’s winds can pump up the house “like a balloon and blow it off its foundation.”

The problem? The story points to the many areas of Louisiana and Mississippi that “don’t have or don’t enforce building codes,” unethical contractors who “often skirt or ignore” the rules, and homeowners who cut corners to save a few dollars.

City Outlaws 9-Foot Garage Doors

Source: Jay M. Grossman, “City Closes Garage Door Discussion,” Birmingham (Mich.) Eccentric, Aug. 28, 2005.

In Birmingham, Mich., 9-foot-wide front-facing garage doors are illegal. So are 16-foot-wide doors.

In August 2005, a resident opposed this ordinance, but the city’s planning board voted to keep attached garage doors facing the street at their current allowed width of eight feet.

The garage door width restrictions have reportedly been in place since 1998, and few have objected. The planning board believes the restrictions improve the appearance of Birmingham’s residential area.

The ordinance puts the squeeze on homeowners with wider vehicles. One homeowner recently knocked two side-view mirrors off her GMC Yukon while backing out of her garage.

Editor’s Note: This ordinance probably increases sales dollars for dealers who sell two 8x7s (with openers) instead of selling one 16x7. But I question the implication that an 8-foot-wide garage door is attractive, but a 9-foot-wide door is ugly.

Wind-loaded Garage Doors:
Not Just for Florida Anymore

Source: Marissa Villa, “Expert: Build Homes Better,” Times Record News (Wichita Falls, Texas), Oct. 22, 2005.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which ravaged Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas in August and September 2005, also helped to underscore the need for stronger garage doors in high-wind areas.

This article, published in October in northern Texas, bluntly states, “One of the most dangerous things for a high-wind storm is the garage door.” The story’s expert is Charles Harper, chairman of the American Institute of Architecture Disaster Response Committee.

Harper noted that high-wind damage usually begins with the garage door. “When the wind gets into the garage, it eventually enters the house sending debris flying around like missiles.”

The expert puts the blame on (1) contractors who build homes as they’ve always built them and (2) homeowners who “(know) very little about the subject.”

Editor’s Note: If Harper’s assessment is correct, a massive educational campaign may be in order. It may fall to the garage door industry to educate contractors and homeowners about the benefits of properly wind-loaded garage doors.