Each state has its own set of building codes that aim to increase the safety of structures to reduce damage, injury, and loss of life. Such codes need to be strictly implemented in a state like Florida, which is a frequent target for natural disasters. According to experts, before Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida in 1992, Florida counties had obsolete building codes that weren’t being strictly enforced.
Timothy Reinhold, Tampa-based senior vice president of research and chief engineer at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, mentions that “In the Miami-Dade and Broward county areas, they had very good prescriptive requirements before Hurricane Andrew, but what we found out was that they weren’t being enforced very well.” Mr. Reinhold adds that the state’s performance criteria for wind-load provisions were way below standard and the information used at the time was outdated.
After Hurricane Andrew, the Florida Building Code started adopting the wind provisions from the standards set by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), which covers the national standard for wind requirements. One of the most important additions to the code was the mandatory use of missile-impact resisting glass. Such glass types can withstand high velocity impact from wind-borne debris during a hurricane.
Another provision added to the code immediately after Hurricane Andrew was the elimination of “stick frame” house construction in South Florida. That’s why most houses in South Florida built after Andrew are cinder block masonry construction strengthened with hurricane-strapped roof tresses, concrete pillars, and the like.
Roofs in particular, require special protection against hurricane forces. As any Miami, FL roofing contractor worth his salt will tell you, a detached roof can rapidly lead to the total destruction of a structure. However, Chapter 15 of the Florida Building Code-which defines the load requirements for roofs-remains unchanged, as industry experts still deem it sufficient.
It is important to note that new building codes only apply to new construction. Still, it definitely wouldn’t hurt to upgrade your home if you’ve got the budget for it. You can start by having a Miami roof repair specialist like A-1 Property Services build you a roof that adheres to the Florida Building Code.