Florida building codes thwarted hurricane
damage, report shows
Article Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel
March 26, 2018
Florida ranked top in the nation for its building
codes, according to a new report that cited newer construction better
withstanding hurricane damage.
The nation’s biggest hurricane target unseated the previous top state,
which had been Virginia, for the top ranking, according to the
building-code survey by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home
Safety. The only thing coming between Florida and a perfect score this
year was the state’s lack of continuing education requirements for
“One of our messages is that we shouldn’t roll back what we’ve got,”
said Julie Rochman, president of the institute, which is based in Tampa.
“That’s really important.”
The verdict on Florida’s building regulations was evident after
Hurricane Irma ripped through the state starting Sept. 10, the institute
reported this week. About 80 percent of homes in its path had been built
after the state revamped construction codes as a result of the
devastation from Hurricane Andrew in 1992, according to the Institute.
Officials learned from Hurricane Charley in 2004 that houses built after
the mid-1990s better withstood the winds. More recent damage tolls from
Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have not detailed damage by the
age of the structure, the report stated.
Lee Steinhauer, government affairs director for the Greater Orlando
Builders Association, said the state has recently moved toward
prioritizing Florida-specific regulations while still adhering to
internationally recognized standards.
“One of the challenges with any code or any law is that they are a
little behind with where technology is, or where the industry is,” he
Despite the rigid building rules, Florida’s position on the front lines
of hurricanes, flooding and other natural disasters makes it the
highest-cost state for homeowner insurance, according to the Insurance
Information Institute. Also, research reported by insurance.com showed
Floridians paid an average $3,575 on a $200,000 policy with a $1,000
deductible. That’s almost double the national average for similar
Insurance institute officials said the state faces larger natural
threats and Florida should focus on safety concerns for older homes and
manufactured housing installations.
David O. Prevatt, a University of Florida Associate Civil and Coastal
Engineering Professor, said Florida leads in testing wind-resistant
building techniques with input from contractors, engineers, building
officials and others. The state also trains building officials and
contractors on ways to minimize wind damage. He advocated doing more to
protect existing structures.
“Florida must still confront the challenge of addressing the high
vulnerability of existing buildings which are a large proportion of the
total inventory,” said Prevatt, who’s also associate director of the
Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure center. “Many
existing structures lack the wind-resilient details from latest codes
and as a result may suffer more damage.”