Florida building codes get top marks, yet lots of homes built before codes got smart

When it comes to building codes, Florida gets an A. Our fair – and increasingly hardy-built – state was one of three states earning more than 90 points on a 100-point rating scale to grade the regulations and processes for residential building construction. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety analyzed state-by-state building codes and enforcement of those codes across all states, and Florida ranks way up there, thanks to building code officials who make the rules stick and contractors who build homes ever stronger.

Building codes exist to increase the safety of structures to reduce deaths, injuries and damage. And, that’s what you want in a place like Florida, where eight of the top 12 natural disasters took a shot at us. University of Florida engineers did a study after the four storms of 2004 showing that homes built under the codes of 2002 sustained less damage on average than homes built between 1994 and 2001. Alas, homes built before 1994 fared worse. That’s because it wasn’t until 1994 that high-wind construction standards were widely used in coastal areas. While it’s certainly positive news that Florida is setting a high standard for new construction codes, it’s important to bring perspective. There are 4.88 million single-family homes in Florida, with the median year built in the 80s, according to the State of Florida’s Housing 2010.  While older homes built decades ago may be solidly constructed, many are not as strong as the new stuff.

Strong homes can save your life and save you money. Owners of newer homes and those retrofitted to stand up to hurricane winds pay less for insurance than people who live in weaker structures. Model building codes are updated every three years, by the International Code Council. The updates reflect the latest science and engineering improvements that reveal better ways to build.

This is making me wish I could trade in my house every three years like other people do with their cars. I’ve been grounded in the same home 21 years and just had a mitigation inspection last week on my 1984-built home which was an eye opener.  More on that in a future blog…..

In the meantime, here’s a link to the IBHS report: Rating the States: An Assessment of Residential Building Code and Enforcement Systems.

About lynnem

Our blogger, Lynne McChristian, is the Florida representative for the Insurance Information Institute and is based in Tampa.
This entry was posted in Building Codes, General, Homeowners+Renters. Bookmark the permalink.

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