Change is coming to the way the Florida Building Code is updated.
Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill (HB 1021) into law Friday that, among other things, changes the way the state’s building code is updated. The new law, which goes into effect July 1, requires the Florida Building Commission to review and determine which parts of international and national codes to adopt, instead of automatically adopting the national codes.
Florida currently uses the International Code — building regulations developed by the International Code Council and used across the country — as its baseline. The Florida Building Commission adopts the International Code, and then makes Florida-specific amendments and changes when it adopts the Florida Building Code.
Under the bill signed into law Friday, the Florida Building Commission would be allowed to review international and national codes to determine which provisions need to be adopted, instead of adopting the entire code and making amendments. The commission would be required to adopt any provisions necessary to maintain eligibility for federal funding and discounts from the National Flood Insurance Program, the Federal Emergency Agency, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The change was backed by the Florida Home Builders Association, which said streamlined future changes to the building code. However, building code officials had called on Scott to veto the measure saying that by signing it Scott would be abandoning “a process that has worked effectively since Hurricane Andrew.”
“The Florida Building Code is widely regarded as among the most effective set of building codes in the nation,” wrote Doug Wise, the president of the Building Officials Association, in a June 16 letter to Scott asking for a veto. “This is because the code development process established by the Florida Legislature ‘got it right’ when the decision was made to base Florida’s codes on the national model codes. These model codes are developed and updated through a consensus process and are the foundation documents which are modified to address Florida-specific conditions.”
Wise went on to say that signing the bill could lead to a weakened building code, which would “disconnect Florida’s building professionals from the ongoing updates of the national model codes and will lead to a stagnate, out-of-date, set of regulations, harming the citizens of Florida by creating a less safe built environment.”
Earlier this year, Jeremy Stewart with the Florida Home Builders Association told Florida Politics that suggestions that changing the way the code is updated would diminish home building safety are “flat out false, disappointing, and coming from vendors in the process who manufacture items installed in homes, not those who shake hands with the consumers at the end of the day.”
The law goes into effect July 1.