Florida Building Codes: How They Started, What it Means for You

Buying a home in Florida comes with an amazing lifestyle. However, the Sunshine State is located in an area of the world that is highly prone to the winds that come with tropical and hurricane-force storms. This is an important consideration for homeowners.

Related: Best Ways to Secure Your Home During Storm Season

Fortunately, storm-related risks are significantly reduced thanks to the Florida Building Code (FBC). This code is a vital part of creating uniform building standards in the state. The FBC ensures both people and property are protected as much as possible in the event a hurricane affects any part of Florida. It’s an important document that PGT takes very seriously.

History of Florida Building Code

The building codes in Florida have significantly evolved over the past several decades. In 1974, the Sunshine State first adopted a minimum building code. This original code required all local governments to follow specified guidelines to adopt and enforce building codes. These were written with the health and safety of the public in mind. At that time, there were four models in place. As such, local governments could pick and choose the criteria they wanted. While this was an improvement, the problem was it created a decentralized code structure. This resulted in a lack of uniformity. Bottom line—it wasn’t enough. This began to become clear over the next few decades. Then came Hurricane Andrew.

The monstrous Hurricane Andrew struck southern Florida in 1992. Andrew, a Category 5 storm, destroyed more than 60,000 homes and damaged an additional 100,000. In total, 65 lives were lost. After witnessing the devastation caused by Andrew, officials realized there was a problem. They began to identify the deficiencies associated with the then-current building code. The way the existing code was written in the 1990s didn’t prevent both people and property from harm. This was because of the vulnerabilities that were legally allowed in the building and remodeling of housing and other buildings.

Related: Window Safety Week—Tips to Upgrade Your Family’s Security

Since that time, much proactive thought has gone into revamping Florida’s building codes. The idea was to come up with a comprehensive code that would be enforced statewide. Essentially, the new code would standardize and centralize building codes and replace the previous fragmented version. In 2000, the first edition of the Florida Building Code was released. The FBC is a living, breathing document that is continuously updated. Now in its fifth edition, FBC governs everything associated with the design, construction, erection, repair, modification, alteration, and demolition of both private and public buildings. PGT has been directly involved with this process.

PGT’s Involvement in the Creation of the Florida Building Code

Coastal living room with hurricane impact windows and doors

Featuring our WinGuard® Aluminum Preferred Sliding Glass Door SGD770 and Single Hung Window SH7700A

Since the beginning, PGT has been involved with the creation of the protections outlined in the Florida Building Code. It’s an important process our company firmly believes in. Stronger building codes safeguard lives. PGT helped write some of the most stringent impact code requirements found in the FBC. These requirements can be found in documents written in other countries around the world.

PGT’s unwavering commitment to the protection of people and property remains strong today. Our company also holds the most Miami-Dade certifications in the industry. We pride ourselves on our ability to manufacture windows and doors that will hold up against hurricane-force winds. PGT products are designed to also withstand hurricane-related debris. When you install a PGT product, you can rest assured you’ll have strong protection for your family and home.

Understanding Wind-Borne Debris Regions and the High Velocity Hurricane Zone

A map showing Wind-Borne Debris Regions and the High Velocity Hurricane Zone in Florida

Living along Florida’s beautiful coastline offers many benefits, but storms can and do cause hazards. Hurricane zones and wind-borne debris areas require careful consideration when it comes to private and public buildings. The FBC directly addresses these issues.

The High Velocity Hurricane Zone (HVHZ) is a region in Florida prone to be affected by hurricanes. (In other states or countries it may be called a different name, but the same concept.) In Florida, if you live in Miami/Dade or Broward Counties, you reside in an HVHZ. By living in this zone, FBC requires you to have HVHZ products installed in your home. This includes windows, doors, and roofs, to name a few products.

If you live in other areas of Florida, your property is regulated under the FBC. As such, any product used in your home must have FBC approval. The level of approval required will depend upon the area or zone you live in. For instance, if you live in a wind-borne debris region, your replacement windows and doors must meet FBC’s requirements. Many areas of Florida fall into the category of wind-borne debris regions, but especially those that are located within one mile of the coastal mean high water line. These are areas that are prone to be impacted by 130 mph or greater wind speeds.

PGT’s Windows and Doors Designed to Withstand Hurricane-Force Storms

Safety is of the utmost importance in the PGT philosophy. Our approach always leads with a “safety first” mentality. While some manufacturers of housing products initially refused to get onboard with stringent building requirements, PGT has always embraced them. PGT’s Florida Building Code exterior doors and Florida Building Code for impact windows are designed to provide your family with the best protection possible.

Related: Replacement Window Guide

We lead the industry in innovation in our field. However, we still continuously invest efforts into research and development to continue to make better, more advanced products to serve our customers and to safeguard them. PGT’s WinGuard® impact-resistant windows and doors are tested to Miami-Dade protocol and hold several Miami-Dade Notices of Acceptance.

Protecting your family during storm season is our top priority. Our products are designed with this in mind. Outdated windows and doors not rated for hurricane resistance under FBC can lead to serious injury or damage to property. Securing your home with impact windows and doors greatly reduces storm-related risks. They also provide numerous other benefits all year long.

You can read more about the Florida Building Code online by visiting the FBC website.

Want to see more news and trends?

Sign up for our free newsletter.