Hurricanes and the Florida Building Code

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Hurricanes and the Florida Building Code

satellite view of two hurricanes

The South-East is right in the middle of hurricane season, making it the perfect time to discuss these dangerous storms and their effects on South Florida buildings. Thankfully, the building codes have vastly improved since Hurricane Andrew, a category 5, blasted ashore in August 1992, damaging 25,524 homes and killing 65 people. 

What is a hurricane?

A storm becomes a hurricane when its maximum sustained winds reach 74 miles per hour. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale gives a hurricane a category of 1 to 5 based on the hurricane’s potential for property damage. Hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, although hurricanes can, and have, occurred outside of this time frame. NOAA’s National Hurricane Center predicts and tracks these massive storm systems which occur 12 times a year on average in the Atlantic basin.

Building codes for hurricanes

The Florida Building Code is a set of codes and regulations that dictate how a home or commercial building must be constructed to mitigate damage from hurricanes and other natural disasters. Having buildings up to code reduces costly damage and saves lives.

Florida has some of the strongest building codes in the nation, if not the world, to protect against damage from hurricanes. When the Florida Building Code Study Commission looked at the building codes after Hurricane Andrew in 1996, it found the codes were a “patchwork system of codes and regulations, developed, amended, administered and enforced differently by more than 400 local jurisdictions and state agencies with building code responsibilities,” according to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. That led to changes that gave us the more restrictive codes we have today.

The Florida Building Code exists primarily to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public but it also serves to protect property investments and save insurers, the state and local governments money in mitigation costs linked to natural disasters.

Is your project up to code?

Whether you are starting a project or renovating an existing structure, the glazing and cladding experts at Façade + Envelope provide inspections, field testing, engineering consultation to ensure your project is in compliance with the Florida Building Code.

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