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Florida Building Code Changes Impact Building Design and Construction

florida building code changes

If you’re planning a new construction or rehab project or already have one in the works, the new Florida State Building Code changes probably apply to you. Some of these changes deal with safety, particularly hurricane safety, but energy efficiency also gets a new standard. The 5th Edition of the Code took effect on June 30, 2015.

Getting that all-important Certificate of Occupancy partly depends on you, the owner. It’s an active participation type of situation. And for projects with a permit application dated June 30, or later, you can expect a few differences over previous years.

Here are some of the most important changes that you’ll see.

Talk with Your Building Contractor About Glass and Electrical

Some of the biggest changes to the new code cover glass and electrical. Glass has undergone a significant update. It’s now required to meet not only impact resistance, but also new energy standards.

Low emissivity (low-e) glass has a fine-particle metallic coating that keeps out UV rays but lets in natural light. It’s not necessarily mirrored, but does have a slightly different appearance. It can also cost more, as the supply industries have responded with a price spike.

Electrical and lighting updates and the new way that day-lighting is interpreted could alter building plans if the design is too different from what’s required now. For example, if yours is a LEED project, you’ll have to go with ASHRAE 90.1. And instead of 50 percent of all lamps meeting high-efficacy standards, now you’ll need 75 percent. As for windows, you’re limited to 40 – 50 percent vertical fenestration on the total above-grade wall.

Energy Efficiency in Building Design and Construction

Energy Efficiency beyond low-e is another big change. A continuous air barrier is required throughout the entire building envelope, either on the interior or exterior, but this isn’t required in Climate Zones 1 – 3.

Vented drop ceilings over conditioned spaces meet the thermal envelope, pressure envelope and continuous air barrier requirements. Unvented drop ceilings are now required to be completely sealed from the exterior.

Mechanical systems require commissioning, and the designer must provide evidence of such before the final inspection. But an exception exists for smaller units of 480,000 Btu/h or lower for cooling and 600,000 Btu/h or lower for heating. Also exempt are units in individual hotel rooms and similar spaces.

Trust us Among Construction Companies in Florida

Building code might seem like a formality, and sometimes even a hazard of the job. But it’s critical for the safety, function and efficiency of your building now and well into the future. When these new measures are factored into the project on the front end, there’s a lot less to worry about later on. It’s required, but it’s also good design.

All new construction projects are required to meet the new code. So if you have a new build, this affects your project. And in the case of major renovations of 30 percent or more of the appraised value, the whole building must be brought up to code.

What’s important now is that you’re aware of the changes that the new Florida Building Code brings, and how they’ll affect the scope of the project. You play an important role, and the more you know about it the better.

As a leading South Florida commercial contractor, we have the comprehensive experience that you need, whether it’s bid-build, design-build, newly constructed or a major renovation. We’re here to answer questions and help you stay involved with the process, but without pulling you away from your other day-to-day obligations. If you have a project coming up, we can help you understand all of the new code changes, and what they mean to you. Call Greg DeJohn at 954.961.4222 ext. 106 or contact us.

One Response

  1. You state above, “All new construction projects are required to meet the new code. So if you have a new build, this affects your project. And in the case of major renovations of 30 percent or more of the appraised value, the whole building must be brought up to code.” Does this 30% to which you are referring apply to the whole building or just the windows and doors because it is part of the Energy Code that changed? Would you please give me the code section to which you are referring?

    ThankS,
    Maria Luisa Castellanos, R.A.

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