Why Florida has some of the Strictest Building Codes for Metal Buildings

Florida's building codes are stringent


Everyone knows Florida is home to hurricanes and tropical storms. You don’t have to look up Florida’s wind load requirements to know they will affect the price of your steel building. But did you know Florida ranks 45th in the USA for average wind speeds? That means if you live in any of the 44 states ranked above Florida, you should plan to account for engineering that may increase the final price of your steel building. Furthermore, if you live in a state with high winds, be on the lookout for steel building companies that cut corners on engineering costs in order to raise their profit margins.

Florida’s steel building regulations are some of the most stringent in the nation. How do they compare with those in your state?

What Are Florida’s Building Codes?

Essentially, Florida’s building codes are a collective ‘statement’ on what is and is not safe for those who use or live in buildings constructed within state lines.

In other words, Florida’s building codes contain all of the building safety rules and regulations that Florida has set forth in an effort to maintain safe, functional buildings throughout the state. These codes are developed and distributed by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, or DBPR.

So, what buildings are regulated by these codes, and does their location or intended use matter at all? The answer is all of them.

According to FloridaHousing.org, the fifth and newest edition of the Florida building code compilation covers the “design, construction, erection, alteration, modification, repair, and demolition of any public and private buildings, structures, and facilities in the state.”

That pretty much covers everything.

By ensuring that newly constructed buildings are ‘up to code,’ the state of Florida safeguards its population. In this way, building codes are immensely helpful for the public.

But, they can be a hassle for builders.

It’s a fairly well-known fact throughout the metal building construction industry that Florida has some of the most stringent building codes found anywhere in the United States. This leads many contractors to ask the question, ‘why’?

A Florida Building Code Chronology

To truly understand the Florida building code, we need to take a trip back to 1974. In that year, Florida adopted a ‘bare minimum’ building code that was created as a public safety measure. At the time, it was already a well-known fact that high winds and heavy rainfall were environmental concerns that needed to be incorporated into any smart building code approach.

But then, Hurricane Andrew hit the South Florida area in 1992, a catastrophe that would permanently change Florida’s building code so that all new construction met a higher standard of wind resistance. It’s hard to overstate just how devastating this hurricane was, and the ensuing aftermath identified areas where the prior building code was seriously lacking.

In 1996, the state of Florida moved to consolidate the way that the various counties in the state enforced building codes. Up to that point, there were more than 400 Florida jurisdictions that had their own ways of doing things. This marked the inception of the Statewide Florida Building Code.

Some of the numerous aspects of building construction that are addressed in the statewide code include:

  • Structural strength (including wind resistance)
  • Means of egress (exiting the building)
  • Stability
  • Sanitation
  • Lighting
  • Ventilation
  • Energy use
  • More

The statewide Florida building code supersedes any other local building code, which means that any building erected anywhere in the state must comply.

A lot of thought goes into your steel building. This is an image of a Capital Steel floor plan.

The Good News: Steel Is Strong

Compared with traditional, wood-framed buildings, steel buildings offer superior elemental protection. For this reason, Florida steel buildings are outstanding candidates for new buildings in the Sunshine State.

Because of the unsurpassed amount of strength provided by steel, compliance with the statewide Florida building code is much easier to manage.

There are still going to be numerous other factors to consider, and the overall building process very well may take longer in Florida because of all of the ‘red tape,’ but with steel, the strength can’t be denied.

Steel frames are strong and that helps assist compliance with Florida building codes. This is an image of Capital Steel frame.