As more powerful hurricanes strike all over Florida, legislators consider building improvements

click to enlarge Photo of Hurricane Michael damage in Panama City, as seen Oct. 21, 2018, via Wikimedia CommonsRooftop wooden decks may offer the perfect getaway space for homeowners, but they need to be built to better withstand hurricanes, members of a Senate panel were told Monday.Thomas Campbell, executive director of the Florida Building Commission, gave members of the Senate Community Affairs Committee a quick summary of tentative changes approved by the 27-member commission, including additional mitigation requirements for rooftop decks. Those requirements, at least in part, would be aimed at ensuring decks are sealed to prevent water intrusion.Commission members also have given tentative approval to more-stringent wind resistance requirements for vinyl siding and potentially requiring in progress inspections when exterior wall coverings such as vinyl siding are being applied.The Florida Building Commission considers updates to the statewide building code every three years. Members are discussing the seventh iteration of the code.The public will have an opportunity to comment on the tentative changes during public meetings in February and April, Campbell told senators.A new statewide building code is expected to be finalized by December 2020, Campbell said.The Florida Legislature authorized the initial statewide building code in 2000. It went into effect two years later, replacing local ordinances and rules that once regulated building construction across the state.Though its a statewide code, it includes different requirements for wind resistance in certain areas of the state.South Florida has the toughest wind resistance requirements; the building code requires that buildings be able to withstand 175 mph winds.But the requirements in the Florida Panhandle, which in the past was considered less susceptible to hurricanes, are less stringent. Buildings in rural, non-coastal areas of the Panhandle are required to withstand 120 mph winds.