How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes

Does Florida have strict building codes?

Friday, July 1, 2022

The Florida Building Code (FBC) is based on the same International Building Code (IBC) used by many other states. But, because Florida is the most hurricane-prone state, we have added stricter and more extensive code standards to the IBC base code for hurricane-resistant structures. As a result, the state was rated highest in the nation in 2018 by the Insurance Institute for Building and Home Safety (IBHS) for the strongest hurricane resistance standards.

   Florida’s code standards for hurricane resistance focus on two things: 1) uniformly sturdy doors, windows, and other openings in the walls and roof of a home, and 2) a “continuous load path” that locks together all the exterior components of a house from the foudation up through the walls to the roof. The well-worn phase that “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” is the basis of it all. See our article What is a continuous load path? for more on this.

    It wasn’t always this way. Each Florida county once had it’s own building code and enforcement was sometimes lax. Then Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida with 150 mph Cat 5 force in 1992. Entire neighborhoods were leveled, and the devastation provided the impetus for the legislature to enact a statewide building code with stricter enforcement.

    It took a while. The new code did not go into effect until 10-years later in 2002. But the standards have been upgraded regularly over the years since then. And more recent hurricanes, like Michael in 2018, are now affecting our building code too. Coastal areas, for example, need to better withstand the equally devastating, but slow-moving, tidal surge that follows the winds. Read our article Why did so many concrete block homes collapse in Mexico Beach during Hurricane Michael? for details.

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Here’s links to some of our other articles about HURRICANE RESISTANCE:

How can I inspect my roof for hurricane damage? 

How can I tell how hurricane resistant a Florida house is before I buy it?

Which trees are most likely to fall over on your house in a hurricane?

Should I buy a house that has hurricane flood damage?

• Should I buy a house with hurricane flood damage that has been repaired?

• What can I do right now to prepare my house for a hurricane?  

How can I tell if the concrete block walls of my house have vertical steel and concrete reinforcement?

How much hurricane wind speed can a mobile home survive?  

What year were mobile homes required to become more storm resistant? 

Can I do my own wind mitigation inspection?  

• What is the wind mitigation inspection for homeowner's insurance? 

What is the best emergency back-up generator for the power outage after a storm? 

What are the pros and cons of concrete block versus wood frame construction? 

Is a metal roof for a mobile home approved for HUD Wind Zone 3? 

Why do so many more sinkholes open up after a hurricane?  

• Can I get hurricane impact-rated windows for a mobile-manufactured home?

• What happens when a mobile home foundation fails in a hurricane? 

Why didn’t I get an insurance discount for my new hurricane-resistant windows on my wind mitigation inspection?  

• What can I do during a hurricane to reduce the possiblity of roof damage?  

    Visit our HURRICANE RESISTANCE  page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 

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