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Revamping of Florida building codes on the table after condo collapse

Codes and Standards

Revamping of Florida building codes on the table after condo collapse

Tragedy could prompt upgrades like post-Hurricane Andrew effort.

By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | July 26, 2021

The Champlain Towers South collapse in Surfside, Fla., could be a spark to ignite wholesale revisions to the state’s building codes similar to the effect of Hurricane Andrew.

It could take months to determine the cause of the deadly collapse, but consensus is growing that the tragedy will prompt action on what are some of the strictest building codes in the country. The disaster’s aftermath, some experts say, could be reminiscent of what happened after Hurricane Andrew, a category-5 cyclone that struck South Florida on Aug. 24, 1992, destroying more than 25,000 homes.

Florida’s building code was revamped following Andrew to construct more robust structures resistant to strong winds. The Surfside collapse could well lead to provisions that address sea level rise and growing hydrostatic pressure on structures. One option might be mandates for the use of corrosion-resistant rebars made of glass fiber reinforced polymers.

A new code might also have to contend with saltwater intrusion into the aquifer system that could render septic tanks and wells less viable. It might also have to address fair weather ‘King Tide’ flooding events.

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