April 2004

One county's story

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Miami-Dade County is upholding strict roofing standards while making it easier to verify compliance

by Boris Sursky
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Roofing contractors know strong winds can rip off roofs and blow down walls. And nowhere were the effects of strong winds on roofs more apparent than in south Florida after Hurricane Andrew hit Aug. 24, 1992.

As a result of wind gusts clocked at 165 mph (25 km/h), catastrophic damage occurred to buildings and structures. Hurricane Andrew recently was upgraded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2002 from a Category 4 hurricane to a Category 5 hurricane, the highest on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.

Hurricane Andrew directly was responsible for 23 fatalities and about $25 billion in damages, according to NOAA. The devastation Hurricane Andrew caused clearly illustrates how important roofs are to buildings. Once a building envelope is breached by the loss of a roof, structural and content damage quickly escalate. That is why a primary objective of the construction permitting process, which includes roof permits, is to protect the public from catastrophic loss.

It is important contractors comply with applicable building codes and life safety requirements before, during and after any construction project. Verifying compliance with building codes is one of the main functions of the Miami-Dade County Building Department, which enforces the High Velocity Hurricane Zone (HVHZ) portion of the Florida Building Code. Miami-Dade and Broward counties, Fla., are the areas that fall under HVHZ jurisdiction. Following is information about Miami-Dade County's requirements and...

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