Florida Home Construction Regulations
Are you thinking of remodeling your home’s interior? How about adding some extensions? Perhaps you are interested in renovating a commercial property?
Florida is a booming State, and with it comes rules and regulations to make sure that construction is executed within certain guidelines. Florida Building Code (Section 553.73, F,S) is a single statewide code based on national model codes and consensus standards that have been molded to best suit Florida-specific needs of design and construction.
The purpose of the code is simple – to make the local building industry more efficient, safer, less disaster-prone, and increase accountability. The code pertains to the government of the “design, construction, erection, alteration, modification, repair, and demolition of public and private buildings, structures, and facilities”. The Florida Fire Prevention Code and the Life Safety Code is referenced often (with modifications at times) in the Florida building code. An important consideration that has been emphasized in the Florida Building Code is hurricane guidelines. For example, the wind load design differs across Florida and areas in the Miami-Dade and Broward County are included in the High-Velocity Hurricane Zone which immediately adds more requirements to buildings. Other counties, such as Palm Beach County, do not have the same threats of hurricane.
Apart from the building code, there are other important factors to consider.
What are home construction considerations?
- Confirm the contractor’s licensing status. This may seem straight forward, but an experienced building will be educated about the complex details of building regulations in Florida. A license issued by the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation is a contractor’s key to your business – don’t compromise on this. Florida law requires the contractor to mention his or her license number within the contract document.
- As well as the contractor’s license, make sure that you also ask for their insurance coverage. Any reputable contractor will be covered for general liability where loss can be incurred.
- Flooding is a real concern in Florida. As a low-elevation state, it is often hit with storms. Before purchasing a property, it is wise to confirm what flood zone space it is in. This will determine whether you are granted a building permit or flood insurance. As a rule of thumb, the first floor of the property must be at sea level.
- Geotechnical testing refers to determining the soil bearing capacity. A conventional shallow foundation will not be able to be built on. If the soil doesn’t make the grade, then pilings foundations need to be laid – and these can cost up to $1000,000.
- It is important to consider zoning before going ahead with construction. Although Florida has building regulations, different zones within the county have different rules. For example, depending on location, the length of a property’s setbacks (the distance between it and the street and neighboring properties) can vary.
- The Homeowners Association have their own guidelines to consider (depending on your zone). These requirements and restrictions can include the way that your garage door faces, the type and style of your roof, and even the colors of your home.
Ultimately, it is vital to hire a building professional who is up-to-date with the latest building code and any limitations that may affect your construction plans.