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Category: Florida Building Code

New 2010 Florida Building Code

2010_Florida_Buiilding _Code_Wind_Bebri_RegionsThe new 2010 Florida Building Code will be implemented on March 15, 2010, and it includes significant changes to areas of South Florida. Specifically, the High Velocity Hurricane Zone Areas have been increased to include a much larger land mass and now covers areas that were not in the 2007 Florida Building Code. How will these changes affect contractors, manufacturers and permitting in South Florida? Until the changes are fully implemented nobody really knows for sure.

Tom Johnston, president of the International Hurricane Protection Association has the opinion that, “this adoption of ASCE 7-10 places an unnecessary burden on manufactures to update their product approvals to reflect a new code version when very little material differences have occurred. In addition, a net result of slightly less stringent design pressures is not a step in the right direction. All of this occurring during these difficult economic times makes this code modification even more of an ill conceived decision.”

According to the Home Builders Assocition, for central and south Florida the WBDR is increased and now will include all of the following; Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe, Palm Beach, St. Lucie, Indian River, Brevard, Volusia, Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Polk, Charlotte, Lee, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Okeechobee, and Highlands. The result of these changes will mean there will be new areas with requirements for opening protection in accordance with Chapter 16 of the code.

There are also changes to the Energy Code which will affect Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, but it seems, that the largest impact of the new Code from a cost and procedural stand point, will affect Central Florida more so than South Florida. By no means does that diminish the increased costs for building permitting. Procedural changes that building departments will institute will require contractors to produce additional paperwork and forms, and then there is  the increased costs incurred by manufactures that will be pasted on to consumers. Let’s not forget the additional costs that the local architects and engineers will need to pass on the their Clients.

To summarize, it is a good thing that the HVHZ areas have been increased. Yes! The Wind Born Debri Regions in the 2007 and earlier Codes never made any sense, but have the other changes made buildings any safer? Or, have the changes just added more costs to the consumer, created more bureaucratic procedures and paperwork, and made the process of designing, building and permitting a construction project more of a nightmare that it already is, in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties? Only time will tell!

Hurricane Season – High Velocity Hurricane Zones

Florida_Wind_Borne_Debris_RegionsWe are now well into the the 2010 hurricane season. Nothing major has occurred affecting  South Florida, but it only takes that one storm. After living through an evening in August of 1992 with Andrew pounding on the doors, and the boarded-up windows of the home I was staying in west Miami-Dade, I am fully aware of the destruction that one storm can do.  A long, and what seemed to be a never ending evening in darkness hearing what sounds like the thunder of a train going by for hours is something you never forget.

Back then, the South Florida Building Code was about as thick as a paperback romance novel. Hurricane Andrew put and end to that real fast! Now, almost twenty years later, the Florida Building Code fills a cabinet shelf with volumes and volumes of 3″ loose leaf binders. Like any government generated rules and regulations some is genuine and serves the purpose it was created for, but other portions are created with political motivations. That leads me to the following observations. As you can see by the map to the above left, the yellow areas are considered, high velocity hurricane zones. The yellow areas encompass all of Miami-Dade County and Broward County, and a portion of Palm Beach County. Within the yellow areas there are degrees of wind velocity. They range from 120 mph -150 mph, but what is 30 mph between friends. If you look closely, the highest wind velocities are at the tip of Florida, concentrated on the eastern coast.

I am not a scientist, an engineer or a meteorologist but I am a thinker. Hurricanes have hit Florida from the Gulf as will as the Atlantic. Wilma in  2005, which I had the pleasure of experiencing, hit Florida on the Gulf side and went northwest through Florida. They also just don’t hit the tip of Florida as the wind borne debris map seems to indicate. When you look at the below satellite photos of Andrew and Wilma, and then compare it the the high velocity hurricane zones you are probably scratching your head.

Hurricane Andrew Satellite Picture Timed

Hurricane Andrew Satellite Picture Timed

Hurricane Wilma 2005

Hurricane Wilma 2005

So! My point is, get prepared and be prepared no matter where you live in Florida. Hurricanes are not going to follow maps created by bureaucrats. Also! It’s a little late now, but in the future, if you are doing any construction, build it to withstand 150 mph winds. You can always build to exceed Code!