Building owners needing repairs on a portion of their building are often chagrined to discover that they must pay for an entirely new assembly, because of the “25% rule”. This was a requirement in the Florida Building Code (2017 Florida Building Code – Existing Building (6th Edition), Chapter 7, Section 706.1.1, EXISTING ROOFING) that is more than 25% of a building component (like a roof) needs to be repaired, then the entirety of that component must be “brought up to the current code” and therefore repaired. The section stated:
“Not more than 25 percent of the total roof area or roof section of any existing building or structure shall be repaired, replaced or recovered in any 12-month period unless the entire existing roofing system or roof section is replaced to conform to requirements of this code.”
(See J.S. Held, https://assets.jsheld.com/uploads/Article-Images/Florida-Building-Code-25-Rule-Roofing.pdf.) This increases repair costs for the owner and insurer, and can be perceived as ginning up work for repair contractors, and claimants.
The Florida Building Code, with enhanced requirements for windstorm survivability, has been in effect for over twenty years. The vast majority of roofs were build under the FBC regime. So the cost-benefit of requiring a 2007 roof to be brought up to, say 2020 code, is questionable. It’s unclear the upgrades are worth the cost.
The legislature has been petitioned by insurance companies who claim to be losing their shirts over the cost of roof replacements. And in fact, several insurers have either gone into “administration” (i.e. insurance company administrative bankruptcy) or ceased covering in Florida in the last year. Others have required proactive roof replacements.
The legislature acted in the spring 2022 session by enacting Senate Bill 4D, signed by the governor May 2022. While the principal focus of the bill was condominium reform to require milestone inspections, require repairs directed by the inspecting engineer, and abolishing the power to waive reserves, the bill also abolished the 25% rule for roofs built in compliance with the 2007 FBC or later versions:
553.844 Windstorm loss mitigation; requirements for roofs 151 and opening protection.— 152 (5) Notwithstanding any provision in the Florida Building 153 Code to the contrary, if an existing roofing system or roof 154 section was built, repaired, or replaced in compliance with the 155 requirements of the 2007 Florida Building Code, or any 156 subsequent editions of the Florida Building Code, and 25 percent 157 or more of such roofing system or roof section is being 158 repaired, replaced, or recovered, only the repaired, replaced, 159 or recovered portion is required to be constructed in accordance 160 with the Florida Building Code in effect, as applicable. The 161 Florida Building Commission shall adopt this exception by rule 162 and incorporate it in the Florida Building Code. Notwithstanding 163 s. 553.73(4), a local government may not adopt by ordinance an 164 administrative or technical amendment to this exception.
It’s curious that the 25% rule wasn’t abolished as to all building components – only roofs. However we can infer that those pushing for the reform – the insurance industry – were getting gored by roof replacements and not other components.
The logic of new Sec. 553.844(5) suggests owners and design professionals might request that building officials waive similar “fix it all” requirements for other specific structures under appropriate conditions, in light of the rollback of the rigid 25% rule.