Potential Changes to Florida Roofing Codes Could Impact Other States

As you likely know, Florida’s building codes are stringent and are often used as a model for changes in other states. Some of the requirements have caused roofing contractors and insurance companies to constantly be at odds. Contractors often claim that insurers are denying coverage, which means they lose work. And insurers have accused contractors of inflating roofing claims. Some of those codes are now up for debate, and we could see changes next year.

The 25 Percent Requirement

According to the current Florida code, a roof must be replaced entirely when 25 percent or more of it is damaged. Many insurers contend that this requirement, which may be unique to our state, is causing losses and encourages fraudulent claims.

For their part, some contractors do not support the 25 percent requirement either. They argue that if homeowners think that a roof has to be replaced every few years, they will believe there is no reason to invest in a modern roofing system that might last a few decades. Contractors would rather install quality, long-lasting systems than cheaper roofs that will often be replaced.

The current code reads as follows: “Not more than 25% 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.”

The proposed revision reads as follows: “Replacement of the entire existing roof or roof section is not required if the existing roof covering was permitted and installed in compliance with this code or the two previous versions of the Florida Building Code.” Regarding the “two previous versions,” roofs that are nine years old or less would not have to be replaced. This change would result in cost savings for both homeowners and insurers.

The Matching Law

The Florida building code also has a matching requirement. It states: “Unless otherwise provided by the policy, when a homeowner’s insurance policy provides for the adjustment and settlement of first-party losses based on repair or replacement cost, the following requirements apply: When a loss requires replacement of items and the replaced items do not match in quality, color, or size, the insurer shall make reasonable repairs or replacement of items in adjoining areas.”

This requirement means that if the shingles used for repair do not match the rest of the shingles, then the entire roof must be replaced. However, in recent years, some insurance companies have questioned the phrase “unless otherwise provided by the policy,” and they have placed limits on the matching specification. Due to legal claims and complaints, it appears that the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation may take steps to adjust the matching requirement.

Additional Code Considerations

Among other possible revisions to code is a requirement to replace both layers of shingles even if the first layer is not damaged. The current code does not allow for reroofing atop the existing shingles.

Another change could be upgrading specific code requirements in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. Although these counties generally have strict laws for the roofing industry, they are not so rigid on roof underlayments. Updating this code could reduce water damage to South Florida homes.

What to Expect

These roofing issues are currently being discussed by contractors and insurers throughout the state, and some may find their way to the Florida Legislature. If revisions are approved, they could be incorporated into the 2023 code. So, roofers should stay tuned to see how any code updates will affect how they do business. Similarly, if you do work in other states prone to hurricane or storm damage, the upcoming Florida changes could dramatically affect how you do business in the future.

Author’s note: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

About the author: Trent Cotney is National Construction Practice Group Leader at the law firm of Adams and Reese LLP and NRCA General Counsel. For more information on this subject, please contact the author at trent.cotney@arlaw.com.

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