Houses are some of society’s most important structures, providing not only shelter from the elements, but also serving as places of business, worship, and social gathering. However, houses are often the structure most affected by disasters. The goal of many post-disaster reconstruction programs is to “build back better,” meaning safer housing and improved capacity to build and maintain safe housing. Long-term housing safety depends on both the initial design and construction and on how households maintain and modify their house. Despite their importance, there is a dearth of research on how post-disaster housing will perform in future hazard events and what households understand to be safe housing. To address this gap, I assessed and compared household perceptions and engineering assessments of post-disaster housing in the Philippines following 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). Organizations directly built the houses and provided households with other assistance, including training. I first assessed which housing components households expect to be damaged in future hazard events and determined which housing design and post-disaster program factors influenced these perceptions. In general, households were more concerned with their houses, especially the roof, in typhoons than in earthquakes, and these perceptions varied based on the house material and whether households participated in the reconstruction. Next, I assessed the wind performance of the houses using performance-based engineering methods. In future typhoons, most of the studied houses are expected to have roof cover loss, but wall failure, which could be catastrophic, is expected in houses with wooden frames and a permeable wall material. I also identified design decisions, such as component spacing and connection type, that could improve wind performance. Lastly, I compared households’ knowledge of safe housing with the engineering assessments. Household perceptions about individual components were well-aligned with engineering assessments but lacked a system understanding of how components work together to affect housing performance. These results contribute new knowledge about household perceptions of safe housing, the performance of organization-built post-disaster housing, and the alignments and misalignments between household perceptions and engineering assessments. Practically, findings can aid practitioners in building more hazard-resistant housing and encouraging safer construction practices through capacity building.

Venable, C. (2020). "Post-Disaster Housing Safety: (Mis)Alignments Between Household Perceptions and Engineering Assessments." Dissertation, University of Colorado Boulder.