By Ken Hodges
As Texans, we have a lot of things to take pride in. From our barbecue to our football to our big cities and sprawling fields, Texas is truly a unique state. What really sets us apart is something that isn’t so easily seen. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the nation was able to witness Texans’ capacity to overcome obstacles and extend a neighborly hand to those in need. Our state has an innate ability to withstand devastation and rebuild from the rubble. No matter the obstacle, Texans come together to create something new.
Now, after losing their homes and many of their belongings, thousands of Texans are beginning that process of rebuilding a new life. It will be long and expensive, but as homes are reconstructed, it is absolutely vital that Texans choose to build with materials that adhere to national standards. Untested, obsolete or counterfeit products can be life threatening and costly but clearly written codes represent what is best for homes and families.
The amount of foreign-sourced homebuilding products coming into the US market that do not meet the national standards has steadily increased over the years. During a segment for 60 Minutes, they reported that even the laminate flooring at a major construction retailer failed to meet national health and safety standards due to high levels of formaldehyde in the sealant, a cancer-causing chemical, the product has since been pulled from the shelfs. Starting on December 12 of this year, any laminate wood flooring product needs to be labeled with TSCA Title VI to ensure it meets the standards set for the safety of the consumer. This type of consumer protection also happens on building products across spectrum thanks to the hard work of groups like International Code Council - Evaluation Service (ICC-ES) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Products that pass their strenuous approval process will bare their logo and are listed on their websites. By helping to regulate the quality of your home’s materials, national standards created by objective, expert third parties help make homes and buildings more reliable. In the age of the Internet, they provide a reference to look for when your first instinct is to find the quickest and cheapest materials.
Homebuilders should always use the best and safest methods as they build a new life for a family. The only way to ensure that your family and your home will be safe during the next natural disaster is to rebuild with those national standards in mind. In order to protect your loved ones, every material in your home, from the foundation to the roof, needs to make the grade.
National standards cannot stop a hurricane or prevent a tornado from damaging a home. However, they are a homeowner’s best defense against complete devastation. Hurricane Harvey stole homes and priceless belongings from Texans. As we rebuild throughout the next few years, only the highest quality materials and standards should be used. While neighbors help neighbors become reestablished in their communities, Texans deserve the best materials to build their lives around. Texans will always help Texans. Make sure your neighbor’s home is living up to a standard—it’s the Texas way.
Print edition of the Port Arthur News, October 20, 2017