Florida has been a national leader when it comes to its state-wide building code. The code, which was enacted by the Florida Legislature in 1998, following the destruction of Hurricane Andrew, became effective on March 1, 2002. Since then, over a quarter of the state's homes have been built or remodeled to code satisfaction. This is great news, but it also means that almost three-fourths of Florida's homes are still at risk.
Keep in mind that, over time, the percentage of up-to-code housing continues to rise due to all new renovations and new projects having to satisfy the building code. While this is making the entire state much safer in the long run, there are still plenty of things we can be doing in the meantime to prepare our homes for volatile climates and extreme natural hazards.
Tips for Tougher Homes:
- Location - One of the most important things you can do before building a home is to research the local area. Ensure that your home is not being built in a known flood plain, seismic area, or historically fire-prone area. Knowing is half the battle!
- Energy Efficiency - Due to power and water restrictions during emergencies, building energy/water efficient homes reduces the amount of resources consumed. When possible, it is even recommended that your home be able to produce power on-site, through Solar Panels or similar means. This not only makes your home more resilient, but also saves money on utilities!
- Strong Building Structures - Sounds like a no-brainer, but reinforcing the stability of your home goes a long way for disaster-proofing! Ensuring that your home follows proper Continuous Load Path structure bolsters defense against natural hazards like earthquakes and hurricanes that could potentially cause structural failure.
- Passive Cooling - Having windows you can open manually, numerous vents, and open-space architecture can help to keep your home cool without relying heavily on mechanical AC, which is prone to failure in emergency situations.
Another way to keep your home cool is to use lighter colors that reflect heat rather than absorbing it.
- Water-proof Sealing - In rain-heavy areas like Central Florida, it is particularly important to seal the foundation and envelope of the your home. Sealing your home is a great way to avoid future water damages from leaks and mold!
Florida is doing a great job at disaster-proofing new homes, but the work is never done. It is forever a work-in-progress.
With every natural disaster, we learn more ways to improve our building methods in the future!