Building code changes injected by special interest groups and rapidly churned-out code books threaten our state’s ability to keep its code the gold standard for safety and customization
By Jeremy Stewart
Government is literally in the walls of the homes we build. As you know, states like Florida are required to take up a new edition of its homebuilding code “rule book” every three years via the ICC (International Code Council). The problem with this, as builders know all too well: It takes a year to fully digest all the code changes, requiring marketing planning and building strategy changes. Once those are confirmed, we move to an entirely new code. It is difficult for contractors and inspectors to keep up. And the vast majority of these changes have little to do with building integrity.
Strong building codes matter — Florida learned that from Hurricane Andrew. And Florida knows what is best for the Sunshine State. Our state made itself the strongest building code in the nation, on its own. But building code changes injected by special interest groups and rapidly churned-out code books threaten our state’s ability to keep its code the gold standard for safety and customization.
Two policy solutions are being discussed in the Florida Legislature, both of which would help Florida to be the master of its own, superior building codes: One would flip the presumption that Florida must start from scratch every three years, and would allow Florida to simply amend / add onto its own already strong, existing state code. Another option would change the current three-year cycle to a five-year cycle, making the process of code-making more transparent…with the time this process deserves in order to review and learn about everything going into new and remodeled homes.
Both solutions would be an improvement. And builders and contractors can help by speaking up.
Allowing states to be the masters of their own code means added safety. Safe homes are built with the understanding, compliance, and enforcement of relevant standard and state-specific codes—not in the creation of unnecessary codes through out-of-state intrusion.
And there are real-world costs for keeping up with rapidly changing codes, often unnecessary and added by special interests, which trickle down to home buyers. For every $1,000 increase in the price of a new affordable home in Florida, the number of households priced out of the market ranges from 21,037 to 22,974 households.
To help make a difference as action takes place, you can contact Florida lawmakers to let them know these policy changes are needed and share the real-world reasons why. You are on the ground, shaking hands with families, and understanding this issue first-hand.
For more information on how to help in Florida, please reach out to the Florida Home Builders Association by way of Rusty Payton at email@example.com.
Jeremy Stewart is the President of Florida Home Builders Association and is the owner of Jeremy Stewart Construction in Crestview, Fla. For more information, visit fhba.com.