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What's the controversy surrounding Florida's new building codes?

As thrilling as the decision to build a home or undertake an extensive remodel can be, it's important to understand that the process itself can sometimes be fraught with indecision and even some frustration. Regarding the former, you may not be entirely confident in your decision regarding things like cabinets, lighting or paint color, while regarding the latter, you may be hit with things like construction delays and other unforeseen costs.

Indeed, consider that just last month, Florida introduced upgraded building codes that are now in full effect, meaning home builders or remodelers may have to spend money changing their existing construction plans in order to become complaint with these changes and secure the necessary permits.

Under these new building codes, there are three means of compliance:

  • Prescriptive: Adhering to the specific compliance provisions set forth in the applicable section of the codebook for the entire project. By way of example, replacing all windows in a house so they meet the new energy requirements.
  • Work area: Adhering to the specific compliance provisions set forth in the applicable section of the codebook for a project covering a limited area. By way of example, replacing a single window as part of a small remodel in accordance with the new energy code, but stopping short of replacing all other windows.
  • Performance: Having a Florida Registered Design Professional determine a way to accomplish project objectives while meeting code requirements in a non-specific manner; By way of example, being permitted to use old windows after a Florida Registered Design Professional calculates how to insulation and air conditioning to help satisfy requirements under the new energy requirements. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, these changes to the building codes have already generated significant debate. Indeed, while advocates are saying they will help drive down the cost of homeowners insurance for Florida residents, critics are arguing they are both unnecessary and confusing, and will only serve to increase the cost of construction.

It will be interesting to see how these new building codes affect building in the Sunshine State. In the meantime, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you have any questions or legal concerns regarding construction or construction-related issues.

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