Florida Building Code (Section 553.73, F.S.) replaced Florida’s pieced together codes and regulations that were developed, administered, amended, and enforced by over 400 local jurisdictions and state agencies given building code regulation oversight. The current Florida Building Code incorporates national model building codes and national consensus standards, amending them wherever necessary to meet Florida’s unique needs.
All building construction-related regulations for public and private buildings in the State of Florida other than those specifically exempted by statute must abide by this code. To establish consistent unified standards, the code aligns with and supports the Florida Fire Prevention Code, which is developed by the Department of Financial Services, and the Office of the State Fire Marshall.
What Purposes Does the Florida Building Code Serve?
The Florida Building Code doesn’t just provide for the standardization of the design, construction, and compliance processes, but it also establishes protocols for the safety, health, and general welfare of building occupants as well as for firefighters and first responders during emergencies within building structures. It addresses:
- Structural strength
- Means of egress
- Adequate light and ventilation10
Southern Florida building codes are mandated to:
- Ensure the local building process is efficient
- Increase accountability
- Attract new and safer products to the market
- Encourage consumer confidence
- Provide better protection for the residents of Florida since the state is inherently prone to experiencing natural disasters
Unfortunately, some builders cut corners or are so far removed from the project that the Florida building code is consistently violated once it’s started. In the end, the homeowner’s or building occupant/visitor’s safety and comfort are at risk. Such violations of the building code typically become the builder’s responsibility.
Build Code Failures in Southern Florida
Other than during construction, building code compliance comes into question when failure to follow a code or a standard causes personal injury or property loss. Depending on the specifics in the situation, failing to comply with the building codes might be either supportive or fundamental to the civil claim.
For instance, code compliance used as supportive evidence stands to strengthen a slip and fall claim. If the conditions at the slip and fall site failed to meet the building code, and it can be established that they contributed to the incident, building codes can be used to support a personal injury claim. A steep ramp, the rise and run of a stair, the lack of handrails, or changes in floor elevation at an exit door can all contribute to a fall resulting in a personal injury.
However, other specifics such as travel distance to an exit or absence of an automatic fire damper may violate code but lack relevance to personal injury arising from a slip and fall accident. On the other hand, in litigation regarding lives lost during a building fire, these same violations of the codes become defining matters.
It’s important to remember that most of the time, the scope of building codes is limited to the physical boundaries of the structure. Suppose the incident occurred outside the boundaries of the construction covered by the code. In that case, there might be no statute to support the case.
To effectively determine code compliance, the following issues must be addressed:
- What code governed construction when the building was constructed?
- Did the incident happen within the physical boundary over which the code applies?
- What is the configuration of the building where the incident occurred?
- What sections of the code are pertinent to the construction?
- Does the construction adhere to the code?
- If the construction fails to comply with the code, in what way does it violate it?
- Could this violation have been predicted and prevented?
Identifying the code that governed the construction of the building in question precedes the determination of code compliance. Typically, buildings must comply with the code(s) enforced at the time it was built.
For all of these reasons and more, build code failure cases can be challenging to pursue and win. Most claimants need the knowledge and expertise of a seasoned Southern Florida build code failure attorney to help them develop their case and obtain compensation through the civil court system. An attorney can help them prove how a building code failed or was violated, how it caused your injuries, and the damages you sustained as a result.
Causes for Building Code Issues
The 2019 Common Code Noncompliance Survey Report reveals several reasons behind building code violations. According to inspectors, the top five causes are:
- Failure to follow or comply with the manufacturer’s instructions (the most common reason for building code violations)— for example, using the wrong kind of fasteners for a window installation.
- Lack of code knowledge on the part of the contractor—perhaps the company has never done work in the particular jurisdiction before, or that code has changed since the last job.
- Penny-pinching, such as using second-rate building materials that don’t meet local requirements
- Failure to coordinate between trades resulting in one covering up another’s work or not allowing enough access for a subcontractor to perform crucial work
- Failure to preserve a trade’s work—for instance, if another trade penetrated existing fire-stopping while installing cable telephone wires
- Missing or inadequate manufacturer’s instructions
No matter the reason for the code violation, if it results in an injury or death to an innocent party, someone should be held liable for the damages that arise. An experienced Southern Florida build code failure lawyer from the Iscoe Law Firm can help victims and their families pursue the compensation they deserve after such an incident.
Meet with a Skilled Southern Florida Build Code Failure Lawyer Today
If you suspect or have reason to believe a builder or subcontractor violated a building code, leading to your injuries and damages, we are here to help. Contact us today for additional information or to arrange a consultation with an Iscoe Law Southern Florida build code failure lawyer. We can be reached at 800 800-6500 and are available 24/7, 365 days a year, to take your call.