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Do I have to bring my whole house up to current building code when I do any remodeling, alterations or additions?
Thursday, April 25, 2019
No, usually you do not. The amount of code compliance necessary depends on how much you are changing or adding to the home. Florida has a specific code, called Florida Building Code - Existing Building, that defines how much updating you will have to do.
The code breaks things down into the three levels, each one a more extensive level of work than the previous one. Level 1 Alterations “include the removal and replacement or the covering of exisitng materials, elements, equipment, or fixtures using new materials, elements, equipment, or fixtures that serve the same purpose.” Replacing door or windows, without changing size or locations, would be an example of a Level 1 Alteration. The alterations must comply with Chapter 7 of the code.
Level 2 Alterations “include the reconfiguration of space, the addition or elimination of any door or window, the reconfiguration or extension of any system, or the installation of any additional equipment." Adding doors or windows at new locations, or moving interior walls, would be examples of a Level 2 Alteration. The alterations must comply with Chapter 7 for Level 1, plus Chapter 8 of the code.
Level 3 Alterations “apply where the work area exceeds 50 percent of the building area.” So, essentially, Level 1 is replacement, Level 2 is replacement with changes, and Level 3 is a major remodeling. Level 3 must comply with Chapters 7, 8, and 9 of the code.
"Keep in mind that the existing building code has an underlying allowance that repairs and alterations shall not make the structure 'less safe' than it was as originally and legally constructed," according to Jerry Peck, a construction and code consultant. "If the work does not make it 'less safe', then many things are allowed for repairs and alterations—alterations up to a point, anyway. Work being done to items and components to accomplish a ‘repair' are considered as 'part of the repair.' For example, if a wall has to have studs replaced due to damage, then all items removed to allow replacement of the studs is considered part of the repair, which includes drywall, wood paneling, exterior siding, etc.—and the list could get quite extensive."
See our blog post Do replacement bedroom windows have to meet the current emergency egress standards of the Florida Building Code? for an example of the limited requirements imposed for this type of home improvement.
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