Some East Coast builders are in for an expensive surprise: They may have to install storm-resistant windows on coastal-area homes. The windows are supposed to reduce property damage from major hurricanes, but they can add thousands of dollars to the cost of a home.

Dade County, Fla., has required these products for years. When Hurricane Andrew caused $25 billion in damage in 1992, Florida building officials blamed much of the destruction on wind pressurizing the homes, then blowing off roofs and collapsing walls. To minimize loss during future big blows, the code was changed to fortify buildings against...

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