Special To Realty/Builder Connection
With the new Florida Building Code just over a month old, the work leading up to the implementation by members of the Northeast Florida Builders Association seems to be paying off.
“For several months, builders, architects, designers, product manufacturers and other building industry professionals prepared for changes in residential construction brought about by the new Florida Building Code, which took effect March 1,” said NEFBA President Stephen Edmonds.
Builders welcomed the statewide code, which replaced over 470 local codes, because it created a standard that crosses all jurisdictional boundaries and helped ensure better predictability, accountability and enforcement.
“This helps the industry boost consumer confidence in the safety of new home construction. NEFBA and the Florida Home Builders Association worked with state and local government agencies and the Florida Building Commission to develop a single set of standards for construction in Florida that consumers, government and our industry can rely on,” said NEFBA Board Member Dave Galione of Young American Homes.
While consumers can expect to see some changes in new home construction brought about by the code, these changes differ depending on geographical location, vulnerability to hurricanes, high wind events and other conditions.
Perhaps the most visible changes will occur in new home construction in coastal areas that have been classified in a wind-speed zone of 120 miles per hour or more.
“We believe some of the requirements brought about by the new code could change the face of building in some Florida communities for the better, especially in coastal areas,” said Plantation Housing Corporation’s Vic Buscaino.
Buscaino is also chairman of the NEFBA Nassau Builders Council.
One provision of the code pertains specifically to wind-borne debris and the protection of windows and doors in coastal areas classified in a wind-zone of 120 miles per hour or more. Researchers have found that during a hurricane, debris becomes airborne, strikes windows or doors and subsequently breaches the envelope of a structure.
This debris can hit openings at speeds as high as 50 percent of the overall wind speed itself and cause major damage. The code calls for new testing standards for windows and doors that include water resistance tests, air leakage tests, mandatory load deflection tests, structural tests, and a number of other requirements.
“In wind-speed zones of 120 miles per hour or more, the Florida Building Code also indicates that structures can either be designed to withstand internal pressures or windows and doors can be protected by installing products such as plywood, impact resistant glass or storm shutters,” noted Brad Duttera of Architectural Windows and Doors.
“The three most commonly used storm shutters on residential structures are rolling shutters, accordion shutters and storm panels, and the Florida Building Code requires these products to be certified before they can be used in the state.”
Consumers will also see increased protections against termites under the code, pertaining to soil treatments.
“Previous codes required only one soil treatment against termites, the new code requires three,” said Kevin Maxwell of Atlantic Pest Solutions. “In addition, the new code provides some limitations on the use of wood in new home structures in proximity to the ground.”
In wind-speed zones of 110 miles per hour or more, the code requires the testing and use of roof shingles that can withstand higher wind pressures. Stronger shingles can help maintain the envelope of the structure and can also reduce water damage.
“The Florida Building Code represents the melding of multiple construction requirements from around the state into one unified document that will make for a better-built Florida,” stated NEFBA First Vice President Denise Wallace.