Safe Home Expert Says Florida Building Codes Working

June 16, 2006

According to a consultant for the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Florida’s building codes that were approved in 2001 are working.

He also says that Hurricane Charlie was a “model” hurricane in the sense that it was exactly what the new building codes were designed to protect against.

William H. York, president of W.H. York Consulting Inc., told members of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents that mitigation steps can reduce losses to homeowners and lessen claims after hurricanes. York spoke during the group’s June 16 convention and educational symposium in Orlando on “Florida Building Code and Wind Insurance Mitigation.”

According to York, building features addressed in the new building codes help control damage, while mitigation steps keep water out of structures to help reduce claims.

Florida law require insurance companies to offer Florida homeowners “discounts, credits, or other rate differentials …” for construction techniques that reduce damage and loss in windstorms. Insurance company wind mitigation discounts began taking effect in 2003.

The Florida Wind Insurance Incentives website describes typical construction features that reduce wind damage and loss. He outlined various construction features that reduced wind damage and loss, including: roof deck attachment, secondary water resistance, roof covering, roof shape and bracing of gable ends, roof-to-wall connection, protection of openings and doors.

He described types of house construction features, roof styles and hurricane preparations that result in insurance company discounts and credits.

“The roof shape is critical as is roof construction and materials,” York explained. He described new shingle designs that would resist 160 mph winds, but cautioned that some brands are only warranted to 90 mph.

“The warranty doesn’t mean the test speed and there are three different grades,” he said. “A lot also depends on how well attached they are. There is a big difference between 2-inch, versus 2-1/2-inch nails.”

He said the 2-1/2-inch nails have two-and-a-half times the strength of 2-inch nails.

York said that how the roof is connected to the walls is very important and described how strapping has progressed since the 1970s.

“It’s very difficult to redo an older house,” York explained. “Everything depends on how much space there is inside the attic. The time to reinforce strapping on an older house is when re-roofing.

“The only other way to reinforce an existing roof,” he said, “is to remove the soffits.”

York said the garage door is the biggest, most susceptible opening in the house and advised reinforcing it.

York cautioned homeowners, even after preparing a property for a hurricane and meeting all requirements, to stay away from windows and doors containing glass. External wind pressure, even behind shutters, can break glass and fatally injure the occupants of houses.

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