With materials prices already at all-time record levels, the late summer spate of disastrous weather that hit Florida raised concerns throughout the building industry that the situation would get even worse.

However, historical data and preliminary reports seem to indicate that those fears may be exaggerated.

“The last few hurricanes [prior to these] have not had much effect on pricing,” says Jon Anderson, publisher at Random Lengths, an organization that researches and reports on the building products industry. Anderson added, however, that if you look back at hurricanes 10 to 12 years ago, prices were affected, as homeowners took preemptive measures prior to the arrival of the storm. For whatever reason, that hasn't occurred in recent years. “We haven't seen much change yet,” says Bill Tucker, president of the Florida Building Material Association.

But Anderson and Tucker were speaking in the aftermath of only two storms, Hurricanes Charley and Frances. As this magazine went to press, Hurricane Ivan — predicted to be more powerful than the other two — was threatening to become the third storm to batter Florida in less than a month.

Depending on the extent of the damage resulting from Ivan, contractors in the area could feel the effects in the form of slightly higher prices and even more material shortages. If Ivan turns out to have blown a lot of roofs off houses (something the other two storms did not do), then roofing material prices will certainly go up based on demand, according to Tucker.

The effects could become evident in October or even later, says Bob Sheehan, of Regis J. Sheehan & Associates. That's when reconstruction will really pick up — after insurance adjusters have had the opportunity to evaluate all the claims.

On a national scale, the only impact the storms might have is to extend the current period of high prices. “This will firm prices, at the very least,” says Sheehan, who is also a REMODELING contributor. “We can't expect any backing off for a while.”