SC Rebuild Program
The South Carolina Safe Home Program
History of SC Safe Home
The South Carolina Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program, also known as the SC Safe Home Grant Program, offers grants for South Carolinians to strengthen their homes against the damaging effects of high winds from hurricanes and severe storms. The Program was established by the Omnibus Insurance Reform Act of 2007.
To date, 397 grants have been awarded totaling approximately $1,985,000. During this round of awards, grants were awarded to homeowners living in Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown, Horry, and Williamsburg counties.
The SC Safe Home program, operated within the S.C. Department of Insurance, provides grant dollars to individual homeowners to make their property more resistant to hurricane and wind damage. The funds provided by this program are for the sole purpose of mitigating/retrofitting owner-occupied homes and are not to be used for remodeling or home repair.
Retrofitted or strengthened homes are less vulnerable to the onslaught and effects of severe storms, thereby rendering hurricane/storm damage less likely and less intense. Fewer damages result in lower or fewer insurance claims and will ultimately reduce insurance premiums for all South Carolinians.
Types of Improvements
There are several steps homeowners can take to minimize the damages caused by these high winds. The SC Safe Home Grant Program will focus on the following areas:
- Roof deck attachment
- Secondary water barrier
- Roof covering
- Bracing gable ends
- Reinforcement of roof-to-wall connections
- Opening protection
- Exterior doors, including garage doors
- Tie downs
- Problems associated with weakened trusses, studs and other structural components
- Repair or replacement of manufactured home piers, anchors and tie-down straps.
What are the Omnibus Coastal Insurance Reform Act of 2007 and the SC Safe Home Program?
SC Safe Home is a grant program established by the State Legislature under the Omnibus Coastal Property Insurance Reform Act of 2007 (“Omnibus Act”). The Omnibus Act was enacted to address issues involving insurance availability and affordability along South Carolina’s coast. It establishes the South Carolina Comprehensive Hurricane Mitigation Grant program, also know as SC Safe Home, which provides grants to South Carolina property owners to assist with the retrofitting of their homes to make them more resistant to loss due to hurricane damage. It has been proven that retrofitted homes are less vulnerable to hurricane damage. This could potentially mean fewer insurance claims (i.e.,losses) and possibly lower insurance premiums for all South Carolinians.
I read about SC Safe Home in the newspaper. I would like to apply for a grant. How do I apply?
The legislation establishing the grant program became effective on June 11, 2007. Currently, we are in the process of establishing the grant program by securing funding and assigning personnel to work on the program. The grant guidelines and application are available for download at www.scsafehome.com. Currently there is no deadline for submitting applications, but due to limited funds this first year applications will be processed on a first-come first-serve basis.
What is the purpose of the grant program?
The purpose of the program is to assist South Carolina property owners with the retrofitting of their homes to make them more resistant to loss due to hurricane damage. Through this program and others, the State hopes to be able to reduce the losses caused by hurricanes. By retrofitting their homes and making them safer, homeowners will be less exposed to hurricane damage which means fewer and lower insurance claims. The more the State is able to reduce its risk of loss the more available and affordable insurance premiums should be.
Who is eligible for the grant program?
Before a homeowner can apply, an inspection of the home must be done by a Certified Wind Inspector who has completed and passed the Department of Insurance wind resistance training program. A completed inspection does not automatically qualify you for a grant or guarantee you will receive a grant. It makes the property eligible for grant consideration.
How much is available?
The number and amount of each grant awarded under this program are subject to the availability of funds. No grant shall exceed $5000.
There are two types of grants available: 1) a matching; and 2) non-matching. Individual homes may be eligible for matching grants of up to $5000 each to make specific home improvements as recommended in the inspection report. A matching grant means that for every dollar of the homeowner’s money spent on a retrofit or wind resistance upgrade as recommended in the official inspection report, the program may provide an additional dollar to help pay for the upgrade, up to the maximum grant of $5000 (depending upon the availability of funding).
Property owners whose homes are less than $150,000 in value may be eligible for grants of up to $5000 with no match required. The SC Safe Home program also plans to work with the Affordable Housing Coalition of South Carolina and other nonprofits to help homeowners strengthen their homes against loss due to hurricane damage.
Can I use the funds from this program to offset my insurance premiums?
No. The funds can only be used for retrofitting your primary legal residence.
For what improvements must the money be used?
Matching grant funds are available only for specific mitigation improvements. These funds cannot be used for repairs. The mitigation improvements include, but are not limited, to:
- Improving the strength of your roof deck attachment. For example, if your roof consists of shingles nailed to plywood sheets, the inspection may reveal the plywood sheets are not adequately nailed to your roof trusses, and that additional nails and/or longer nails need to be added to prevent the plywood from being blown off in a hurricane.
- Creating a secondary water barrier to prevent water intrusion. For example, using strips of “peel and stick-on” material that cover the joints between the plywood sheets on your roof to reduce leakage until repairs can be made if a hurricane blows off your roof shingles.
- Improving the survivability of your roof covering. For example, upgrading to thicker and stronger hurricane-resistant roof shingles, attached with properly sized and properly applied roofing nails, to reduce the susceptibility of your roof shingles blowing off in a hurricane.
- Bracing gable-ends in your roof framing.This is usually done inside your attic to decrease chances that your roof will collapse under hurricane wind loads.
- Reinforcing roof-to-wall connections. For example, installing metal tie-down straps that attach roof rafters to wall studs to decrease chances that all or a portion of your roof will simply lift off of your house during a hurricane.
- Upgrading exterior wall opening protections. For example, installing hurricane-rated window shutters.
- Upgrading exterior doors. For example, replacing a standard garage door with a hurricane-rated garage door.
- Replacement or strengthening of piers, anchors and tie-down straps used on manufactured or modular housing.
Who can I use to do the retrofitting?
The Department will work with the Contractor’s Board of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to provide a list of licensed contractors in your area.
The statute refers to “homestead exemption.” I do not have one of those. Will that preclude me from obtaining a grant?
No. The grant program was created to provide retrofit assistance for the primary legal residence of South Carolina property owners. For purposes of this grant, homestead exemption means that you reside in the property and you are a permanent resident of the State of South Carolina. The grant guidelines will contain more specific information about the eligibility criteria.
Can I go ahead and do home improvements and then get reimbursed by the Department?
No. Under the law, the program cannot reimburse you for retrofits you have already done. You must have an inspection and receive grant approval from the SC Safe Home before the retrofits are done to be eligible for reimbursement by the grant. Visit scsafehome.net for a list of certified contractors and approved vendors.