FRSA’s Position on Premature Roof Replacement is Being Heard

July 7, 2022

Mike Silvers, CPRC, Silvers Systems Inc. And FRSA director of Technical Services


A short time ago I received a somewhat cryptic message from FRSA’s lobbyist Chris Dawson that said, “Breaking News. Mike – your 25% rule mod may be getting fast-tracked.” A little background will help you understand why I described this message as cryptic.

The mod Chris was referring to was one of FRSA’s 2023 Florida Building Code (FBC) 8th Edition Modification R9883 (see inset), which was one of 29 modifications (mods) that we submitted during this code revision cycle. Chris did not only move our positions forward with legislators, but he also regularly discusses them with lobbyists for other stakeholders such as Florida Home Builders Association (FHBA). So, I concluded that he must have gotten word that someone would be supporting our modification. But still the fast-tracked part left me somewhat confused (an ever-increasing condition as the years go by). It was late afternoon, and I decided my curiosity could wait until the next day.

Later that evening, I received an email from Will Rabb, a journalist for the Insurance Journal a widely read publication covering the insurance industry. Will had recently interviewed me for a couple of articles he wrote concerning the “Free Roof Syndrome” and the effects it was having on Florida’s property insurance markets. Will’s email said, “The Governor has called the special session and it specifically says changes to the building code will be on the agenda. Any thoughts? Seems odd, since the Building Commission normally reviews code changes…”

Attached to Will’s email was a very official looking document with a very large and bold: PROCLAMATION across the top and at the bottom, with Governor DeSantis’s very large and bold signature. Towards the bottom of what turned out to be the order for a May 23, Special Session of the Legislature to address the state’s property insurance issues, was language that stated:

Section 2. The Legislature of the State of Florida is convened in Special Session for the sole and exclusive purpose of considering legislation related to (a) property insurance, (b) reinsurance, (c) changes to the Florida Building Code to improve the affordability of property insurance, (d) the Office of Insurance Regulation, (e) civil remedies, and (f) appropriations.

Does that say, “Changes to the Florida building code to improve affordability of property insurance”? At this point the meaning of Chris’s message became clearer. I responded to Will stating that it was unusual but not unprecedented for the legislature to get involved in the building code.

I was still somewhat confused. Chris and I hadn’t discussed moving this suggested code change into the legislative arena, so how did we get to the point that one of our code proposals was going to be reviewed in a special session? Philosophically, I would prefer to have the Building Commission and the Technical Advisory Committees (TAC) review and implement our code changes, but it was obvious that this train had already left the station. After all, like Chris said, it was getting fast-tracked! I still wonder to whom and just how this baton had been handed off.

By the time you are reading this, the special session will have ended. The decisions that were made are important and hopefully will have a positive effect on the crisis it is trying to address. Regardless of how it turns out, it is still interesting to review how we got here. 

FRSA has been a consistent leader in attempts to make Florida’s roofs more sustainable as well as more resilient (remember when those were important?). Since before the creation of the FBC, we have worked to improve roof systems we install. But recently the “Free Roof Syndrome” and the demand of insurers to replace roofs that have many years of serviceable life left has derailed these still very important goals of sustainability and resilience.

As important as these goals are and the fact that the roofing industry has stepped up many times to accomplish them, it has not fully understood or, for that matter, appreciated. Too many reports have portrayed roofing contractors as the problem: that…

FRSA Code Mod on the Existing 25% Rule

706.1.1 Not more than 25 percent of the total roof area or roof section of any building or structure shall be repaired, replaced, or recovered in any 12-month period unless the entire existing roofing system of the roof section is replaced to conform to requirements of this code.

Exception: 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.

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