Legislation proposes major changes to Florida's building code

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By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service
June 20, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Legislation proposing major changes to Florida’s building code was bundled with more than a dozen other changes in construction law during the 2017 legislative session. A coalition of building officials and insurance interests fear the legislation could lead to a patchwork of requirements and higher insurance costs.

House Bill 1021 is awaiting Governor Rick Scott’s signature. The Florida Homebuilders Association pushed for the legislation, which they say streamlines future changes to the building code.

“It doesn’t weaken the code in any shape, form, or fashion. All it does is change the process by which we adopt future changes,” says CEO Rusty Payton.

The legislation would allow the state to pick and choose which new items it wants to add from the code. Building officials and insurance interests call it a disaster waiting to happen.

“If it becomes law, it will take Florida back to a system that led to death, billion dollar losses, and certain destruction,” says Leslie Chapman-Henderson of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes.

Home builders disagree.

“We cannot weaken water intrusion, cannot weaken wind loads,” says Payton.

If the bill is signed, opponents say the state would immediately lose a sixty-million dollar discount on flood insurance.

“This isn't a streamlining. This is an abandonment. This is an abandonment of a system that has created the strongest building code in the country,” says Chapman-Henderson.

The legislation includes changes to building and permitting laws, forcing the Governor to consider the overall impact of the bill.

Florida’s emergency management director lobbied against the change to Florida’s building code.

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