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Posts tagged: high velocity hurricane zone

Manufacturers and Contractors Beware!

Permt_Source_Welcome_ to_South_FloridaWe constantly get calls from manufacturers and out-of-state building contractors interested in expanding into the South Florida area to sell building products and materials, or in the case of contractors, wanting to offer construction services. The conversation always involves the question of what the building permitting process is like in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties. The simple answer is that it can be very complex depending on what you want to have permitted.

Over the past ten years we have had at at least a dozen Clients, the majority being building contractors, that set-up offices in the area without doing their due diligence on the viability of  their contracting business, and the impact that the building permit process would have on the success of their business. They have all since closed their doors. Some purchased the rights to sell a construction product in the State not realizing that the product had State of Florida product approval, but was not approved for use in the high velocity hurricane zone (HVHZ) area of South Florida.

I highly recommend that manufacturers of building products, and building contractors do their home work on the permitting process in Florida, and especially the South Florida area. Review the Florida Building Code and become familiar with those sections referring the the high velocity hurricane zone. I would also recommend that you become familiar with the local Codes and Ordinances of the Counties and Cities you want to target for sales. They can be very different. Even some experienced and seasoned local contractors refuse to do work in some Cities and Counties because of the tedious, time consuming and aggravating  process of getting a building permit issued.

Feel free to call us if you have questions about the building permitting process in South Florida. Specifically, Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties. We may not have all the answers, put we can point you in the right direction.

Window & Door Permits

Window_Door_Permits_Miami_BeachMiami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties are all in the high velocity hurricane zone. This requires that all products installed  meet certain pressure requirements, depending on the height of the structure, the zone the openings are located in, and the exposure category of the building. The products will require a Miami-Dade County Notice of Acceptance (N.O.A.), or a State of Florida Product Approval that states that the product is approved for use in a high velocity hurricane zone (H.V.H.Z.).

Pressure requirements are site specific. A standard table, that is accepted by some building department in Broward County can be downloaded by clicking here.  If a building department does not accept the standard wind load chart you will need to acquire engineered wind pressures for your widow or door retrofit. Engineering Express is a resource that you can use for standard, engineered wind load charts, or site specific engineering. Structures over 40 feet in height will require site specific engineering. Standard, or generic wind load charts will not be accepted.

That gets you through the building department issues. Now you will need to deal with Zoning issues, and those issues can be related to historic districts. Many buildings in coastal areas, such as Miami, Miami Beach and Hollywood, have designated historical districts. Zoning will require conformity to the original architectural look of the building. Window grid patterns and mullion sizes will need to be consistent with the building design. This can be challenging! Trying to retrofitting windows to existing openings in a building built decades ago. Complying with current Building Code egress requirements, and then trying to meet the Zoning requirements may seem almost impossible. Typically, egress and safety requirements supersede Zoning design requirements, but it is a battle.

Permit Source is very experienced in assisting Contractors in their window and door building permit retrofitting issues. We can help you with the more demanding building departments like, Miami, Miami Beach, Hollywood, and Coral Gables.

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 Protection Permitting

Hurricane_Wind_Load_ChartThe hurricane seasons over the past couple of years have been pretty quite here in South Florida and another season is slowly approaching. Will this be the year that we get hit? Nobody knows but it is best to be prepared. If your home doesn’t have any form of hurricane protection, you might want to consider making the investment. Now is a good time. Prices are low and it is a very competitive market. Please visit our Helpful Links page for a list of contractors.

If you are a “do it yourself” type of person, you may need a little help with the permitting, and Permit Source, Inc. offers home owner’s assistant in preparing your permit package to submit to the building department. We make sure that you have all the proper Product Approvals/Notice of Acceptances, and that the forms, tables and charts are completed properly. If your building department requires elevations and detailed floor plans we can perform a site survey and prepare the required drawings. No mater what you are planning to do; hurricane panels, hurricane shutters or impact windows, when can assist you.

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!