Four Recent Changes to Florida’s Building Codes

Building code changes affect all construction, including roofing. Florida law requires building code updates every three years, and the changes implemented in 2020 arose from 33 technical advisory meetings. The enacted changes took effect on January 1, 2021, and they affect roofing in Panama City, FL and beyond. Here are four changes to Florida building codes and why it’s important to understand them:

  • Enhanced roofs: Building codes placed new requirements on roof assemblies to increase resistance to heavy winds and water infiltration. Minimum roof sheathing thickness increased, and there are new requirements for underlayment. Fasteners and spacing also increased. These requirements apply to all new roofs, even replacement ones. So, if you have not replaced your roof for a while, make arrangements soon so your home or commercial building is up to code.
  • Higher wind loads: Many of these changes arose due to recent hurricane damage. They include a new risk category for wind speed and new wind load standards for rooftop solar panels. Buildings with a mean roof level of 60 feet or lower require new wind pressure designs. If you install an attached canopy, it must also accommodate higher wind speed. Wind speed risk maps remain unchanged—coastal Bay County, FL remains in category 5, which is the highest risk for hurricane wind damage.
  • Energy efficiency for residential properties: The new codes place new energy efficiency requirements on homes. Most of these changes revolve around heat recovery and ventilation. You may need to consider installing attic fans and improved roof ventilation in your home if you are due for a new roof. Other requirements include new stipulations for dehumidifiers and water heating. If you upgrade any of these appliances, you need to find brands within Florida’s current building codes.
  • Commercial property energy efficiency: Codes are not limited to homes. Commercial properties must comply with new standards, too. These changes included removing the automatic receptacle control requirement (except low-rise buildings) and a building key control requirement for hotels, motels and boarding houses. The codes update minimum efficiency tables, and when it comes time for lighting upgrades, lighting devices and controls must meet new standards for energy efficiency.

Before there is any panic, know that you usually do not have to address these changes until you remodel or replace roofs and other structural elements. Commercial properties may need to fall in line more quickly with these changes. If you have any concerns, contact the county office or arrange a consultation with an attorney experienced in construction and property law. Many code changes could reduce utility bills and help your house resist hurricanes, so you should consider upgrades if they enhance cost savings and safety.

Greg’s Roofing of Bay County, Inc. offers comprehensive roofing services in Panama City, FL. You can trust us to complete jobs on time and within codes because we know the changes to building codes and why it’s important to understand them. Call us today to schedule an estimate to repair or replace flat, metal or shingle roofing.

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