Fla. Building Commission to Discuss Panhandle Construction

July 10, 2006

The exemption of Florida’s northwest Panhandle from state building codes will be discussed by Kevin McCarty, Florida Insurance Commissioner, during testimony at the July 11 meeting of the Florida Building Commission. The commission will hold hearings about this topic July 10, 11 and 12 in Hollywood, Fla.

The Florida building code includes wind-borne debris regions along the coast which are subject to winds of 120 mph or greater and susceptible to wind damage during storms. Residential construction in these regions requires enhanced construction and wind mitigation features including hurricane shutters and impact resistant glass. However, when the code was put in place a large part of the Panhandle, from Franklin County to Escambia County, was exempted and the code only extends one-mile inland rather than the average five-miles for the rest of the state.

“If we include these features at the time of construction it is far less expensive and will save these homeowners money year-after-year on their insurance premiums,” McCarty said. “Make no mistake, higher losses that are sustained due to less stringent building codes in these areas are losses that will be born by all Floridians. The argument that these parts of the state will not be hit with high winds has been proven not to be true.”

Also scheduled to testify before the Florida Building Commission on this subject are Thaddeus Cohen, Secretary of the Department of Community Affairs and Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes. A Supplementary Rule Development Workshop on Rule 9B-3.047 Florida Building Code is scheduled June 11 at 3:45 p.m. The commission will meet at the Hard Rock Hotel.

Source: Florida Department of Insurance Regulation

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