I went to visit a friend in the Keys this weekend, and while I was there, decided to drive around and see how much damage Hurricane Irma had done. I went as far down as Mile Marker 45, which means that a little more and we would have been in Key West.
What I saw was that a good portion of well-built houses, houses built with concrete and concrete block were not damaged by the hurricane, especially those on stilts as required by the local code. I did see one house that was one-story, around Mile Marker 74 which was completely destroyed. I assume that it was destroyed due to the storm surge. But on that same street, houses on stilts, did just fine. This actually gave me hope that our Florida Building Code, established after Hurricane Andrew, has really helped improve the chances of houses surviving hurricanes in Florida.
On the other hand, trailers were devastated. Many modular houses and trailers on the ground floor, particularly on the ocean side were thrown around as though they were toy houses.
Many people in the service industry have been displaced. It is an opportunity to build real homes for these people. Many people were living in substandard housing. Now, there may be an opportunity to buy land and build micro-units in order to replace the devastated and substandard houses on the Florida Keys. Normally, it is very difficult to build in the Keys as they ration building permits. But now, maybe they can loosen this requirement in order to replace all the housing the Florida Keys are going to need.
And if you have a modular house or trailer in the Keys, this is the time to calmly analyze and see whether a real house, even though small, wouldn’t be a good investment to prepare for the next hurricane.
I have designed a one-bedroom micro-unit (see attached), but can be used by two people by putting a Murphy Bed in the Living Room. If you are interested in buying land or designing a house in the Keys, let me know. Maria Luisa Castellanos, is an architect as well as a Realtor. Look for more information at my website, www.UnitedArchitectsInc.com .