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Hurricane Andrew roof damage

Understanding Windstorm Mitigation Law

The Windstorm Mitigation Law was enacted in ’07 after landfalls of so many hurricanes caused significant damage. The Florida Building Commission adopted several amendments.

Windstorm mitigation law

Windstorm Mitigation Amendments to  Florida Building Code

    • Any re-roofs on single family homes that were built prior to the amended law require a secondary water barrier.
    • The existing roof decking must be re-nailed per specified spacing if it does not already comply with the Florida Building Code.
    • In wind-born debris locations, the intersection of the roof framing and wall must be strengthened so it is the same as the uplift capacities.
Hurricane Strap
Hurricane strap (Roof to wall connection)

Homes built prior to 2002 with an insured value of $300,000 or more and located in a High Velocity Hurricane Zone  (HVHZ) must have mandatory roof-to-wall connection upgrades made when the roof is replaced. All  of Florida is now considered to be in the HVHZ.

Retrofit roof-to-wall connections must be designed by an engineer and require a general contractor to do the work with their own permit. The members of the Building Commission, aware that the retrofit could potentially cost more than the benefit, have adopted the rule that the retrofit cannot exceed 15% of the cost of the total roof replacement. Roof-to-wall connections will not be insisted upon unless both the evaluation and installation can be completed for a cost that is lower than 15 percent.Windstorm Mitigation InspectionThe mitigation of damage to buildings and the threat to life posed by the direct destructive effects of hurricanes in the state of Florida constitutes a valid reason for the Florida Building Code to stipulate roof-to-wall retrofits, as applicable. These windstorm loss mitigation measures are considered to be of critical importance by the Florida Building Commission because of the severe issues facing the state of Florida due to windstorm damage and its effect on insurance rates.

A Little Advice From Roofer Mike

Check with your insurance company regarding available  discounts or refunds  when your home has been retrofitted. Upon discussing the potential premium discounts homeowners should be aware that there are only three ways, at most, to approach the project.
1) From inside the building which is out of the question unless you are gutting the interior as part of a renovation
2) From the outside by tearing into the soffit from underneath — also very labor intensive
3) From on top by removing the roof and wood decking to access the rafters where they sit on the wall. This is usually the recommended method but really only makes fiscal sense when replacing the roof.

Even then it is an expensive project with the cost of the GC and engineering on top of the price of the roof. The homeowner must decide if retrofits are worth the benefit. Starting with an inspection to determine the nature of the existing connections is advisable.

Summary of Windstorm Mitigation Requirements

When a Roof is Replaced
  1.  Roof deck attachments and fasteners must be strengthened or corrected and a secondary water barrier must be installed – regardless of house value.
  2. Roof to wall connections must be enhanced up to 15% additional cost of the re-roofing cost – when the house value is $300,000 or more.

When ANY Building Permit is Applied for On or After July 1, 2008

Opening protections (doors, windows and skylights) complying with the building code must be installed – when the house value is $750,000 or more and $50,000 or more work is being done.

.Windstorm Mitigation and Insurance Premium Discounts

Hurricane Andrew 1992
Hurricane Andrew – 1992

Windstorm mitigation means making your home more resistant to being damaged by high wind speeds caused by hurricanes and tropical storms. In addition to protecting you, your family, your possessions and your home, some of the things you do may lead to reductions in insurance premiums that you pay for the hurricane/wind coverage in your homeowner’s insurance policy. Note that the discount does not apply to the portion of the premium you pay for coverage of all the other perils, such as fire and theft, which are covered under your policy.

Insurance Company Requirements & Rule 690-170.017

Florida law requires all residential property insurance companies to provide hurricane insurance premium discounts for certain fixtures and construction techniques, which have been demonstrated to reduce windstorm losses, including discounts for houses that meet minimum provisions of the Florida Building Code. Houses built after 1994 in Miami-Dade or Broward Counties and houses built after 2002 in the rest of the state have many wind resistive construction features and will likely qualify for credits. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation adopted specific percentages to be used for reducing the premium when a house meets specific standards. Insurance companies may use different percentages only if they can show by use of studies that different percentages are reasonable.

The Office of Insurance Regulation adopted the discounts in Rule 69O-170.017. The Rule also requires insurers to send a Notice of Premium Discounts for Hurricane Loss Mitigation, which contains a list of discounts with exact dollar savings, to all new and renewed policyholders. To qualify for a hurricane premium discount, consumers have to submit a completed Uniform Mitigation Verification Inspection Form. The form must be accepted by all licensed residential property insurance companies in Florida. Consumers can contract with a licensed inspector to examine their home and complete the official form.

Hurricane Retrofit Guide

A Hurricane Retrofit Guide is available from the Florida Division of Emergency Management. This guide is intended to help consumers decide how to protect their homes against the winds and rains of hurricanes. It is also intended to help consumers decide which protection measures are the most important and therefore which measures should be implemented first. While some mitigation retrofits or protective measures can be done by the homeowner, most require the expertise of a handyman or contractor. This guide will help consumers address the need for professional assistance. The guide provides the homeowner with ideas as well as providing people familiar with construction or in the construction business with the technical help they may need to protect your home.

This RMI Article was written with excerpts from the Florida Statutes
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