The Florida Building CodeThe Florida Building Code became effective on March 1, 2002 and was created by the law ratified by Florida Legislature in 1998. The Florida Building Commission was motivated to create the first state-wide building code after Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida on August 24, 1992.
Just because we have a statewide building code now, people assume we have always had a building code in Florida. New home buyers always ask me, if the house they are buying is built to code. As a home inspector we do not quote code but the code in Florida is new. If you are buying a home built before 2002 the question, "Is the home built to code?" is not relevant.
South Florida Building CodeSouth Florida Building Code has been around much longer. The reason for creating the South Florida Building Code was tropical and hurricane storm damage. Between 1900 and 1950, 108 Hurricanes affected the State of Florida resulting in 3,500 deaths and property damage that would be equal to 4.5 billion dollars in today's currency.
In South Florida, a panel was formed and they worked with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and other research groups to devise wind-loading design. They created a formula for calculating anticipated wind loads from hurricane force winds, taking into account both the wind speed and the height above ground. Miami-Dade County commissioners voted October 29, 1957 and the South Florida Building Code became effective in Miami-Dade County, December 31, 1957. Broward County later adopted a modified version of the South Florida Building Code, Dade County Edition.
Florida Building Code BackgroundWhen Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida, it exhibited a serious statewide deficiency in home construction standards. Our antiquated system of locally administered building codes and enforcement was inadequate. A statewide building code and enforcement agency was needed. Compliance or enforcement in a single county could affect homeowner insurance companies statewide.
Andrew broke all previous records for insurance losses at the time, and was the direct source of Florida's worst insurance catastrophe. Florida was seriously under-insured and overexposed; insurers suddenly comprehended that all of the worst case calculations were completely underestimated.
Many insurers just left Florida and the ones that stayed raised rates to staggering new levels in order to avoid the very real risk of sudden bankruptcy following another huge storm. Homeowners all over Florida were affected as they saw their rates rise drastically and found a lack of available new insurance threatening to pull the plug on development in every part of the state.
We were using the 5th Edition of the Florida Building Code from 2014. The Effective Date for the Florida Building Code 6th Edition (2017) is December 31, 2017.