It has now been over a year since the fires in Sonoma County destroyed 5,334 homes and yet only 70 homes have been successfully rebuilt with just over 1,200 under construction. This leaves over 4,000 displaced families with no solution in sight. To make things worse, thousands more Californians were displaced by more disastrous fires in recent weeks. It seems that this is a problem we will face for many years to come.
But why the lack of progress? How can so many still be disrupted? Well, there are two main reasons:
- Insurance Payouts are not enough – The insurance payments have not been enough to allow families to rebuild. Take the Martins* whose family home was destroyed in Rancho Bernado. They received a payout of $1.1m with $785,000 for rebuilding equating to a rebuild cost of $175 per square foot. However, equivalent building costs have increased by anything up to 70% making the cost of rebuilding equate to $350 or even $500 per square foot. The insurance money is simply not enough to allow people to put their lives back together.
- Not enough builders – the simple fact is that there are not enough builders in the county to meet the demand. This has put upward pressure on costs of both labor and materials making it more expensive than ever before to replace your home. This coupled with an insurance pay out that is lower than needed is making the situation for many almost impossible.
Just maybe, a light at the end of the tunnel may have arrived in Sonoma County in the form of a new modular housing company called SonderPods who are headquartered right here in Rohnert Park.
The HCD accredited company has a range of SonderPods varying in size from a 120 square foot home office through to a 750 square foot, two bedroom, mini home all built to the highest level of California building codes. They are built in the SonderPods facility complete with full kitchen and bathroom in 30 days and delivered to site a week or two later.
Probably the best news is that SonderPods have focused on squeezing cost and time out of the production process and pass a lot of these savings onto their customers and are able to price their homes at around $230 a square foot. This means rebuilding even with lower than expected insurance payouts becomes possible for thousands.
SonderPods aim to deliver one home every two weeks starting in January and plan to increase production to three a week by the summer of 2019. The company are taking reservations on a first come first served basis and interest is high as the word gets around about this new option. A reservation made at the time of writing this article will likely be delivered in late February but slots are filling fast.
The company hope to begin talks with Sonoma County officials before the end of the year with an aim to streamline the permitting and approval process to get those affected back in their homes as soon as possible.
If you or someone you know is still displaced by then get in touch with SonderPods to learn more about how they might be able to find a great solution for you. Contact Us
*Full story in Time.com http://time.com/money/4035181/recovering-financially-california-wildfire/
**Full survey results here: https://www.uphelp.org/sites/default/files/attachments/north_bay_fires_12_month_survey_report_v1.pdf