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Building Code Changes Worry Disaster Managers, others

June 19th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

Legislation making major changes to Florida’s building code got bundled with more than a dozen other changes in construction law this past session, and as Mike Vasilinda tells us, a coalition of building officials and insurance interests fear the legislation could lead to a patchwork of requirements and higher insurance costs.


When Hurricane Ivan stormed into the panhandle in 2004, it leveled this 1950’s era brick house, while a newer home right next door sustained little if any damage. The difference, stronger building codes following 1992’s Hurricane Andrew.

House Bill 1021 is on the Governor’s desk. Florida Homebuilders CEO Rusty Payton pushed for the legislation, which he says streamlines future changes to the building code.

“It doesn’t weaker the code in any shape, form, or fashion. All it does is change the process by which we adopt future changes” Payton told us.

The legislation would allow Florida to pick and choose what new items it wants to add from the code. Building officials and Leslie Chapman Henderson of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes call it a disaster waiting to happen.

 

“If it becomes law, it will take Florida back to a system that lead to death, billion dollar losses, and certain destruction” says Chapman Henderson.

Home builders disagree.

“We can not weaken water intrusion, can not weaken wind loads” says Paton emphatically.

Chapman-Henderson counters: “This isn’t a streamlining. This is an abandonment. This is an abandonment of a system that has created the strongest building code in the country.”

The legislation contains about a dozen other changes to building and permitting laws, forcing the Governor to weigh the overall impact of the legislation.

Florida’s emergency management director lobbied against the change, which was sponsored by lawmakers who in their private lives are homebuilders and roofing contractors.

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