PINELLAS COUNTY – With the state’s peak hurricane season behind us, one roofing contractor is terrified of the possibility that he might lose his house.
Brian Peffer, a roofer who has lived in the Tampa Bay area since 1973, is worried that the recently enacted “Hurricane Damage Mitigation” law will force him and other roofers out of business.
The law, part of the state’s new Hurricane Damage Mitigation rules, applies to single-family homes that are being re-roofed.
Peffer’s fear is that the law will drive up the cost of a roofing job by about 50 percent. He cites the costs of the extra materials, but also the extra work that goes into showing the county his job is thoroughly complete.
The Building Officials Association of Florida issued guidelines for its members to help them follow the law’s intent. Over all, the goal of the new regulations is to come up with cost-effective techniques, the guidelines say, for those buildings constructed before 2002, when the state’s building code was drawn up.
Peffer said he is now constantly documenting his work, which the law requires. He takes pictures of the roof throughout the project and fills out the required affidavits certifying that his work was done according to the Hurricane Mitigation Retrofit Manual.
But he doesn’t think that this extra paperwork will necessarily keep him out of trouble if a homeowner files a lawsuit years after the work was done.
It has nothing to do with the quality of his work, he said. It has to do with how a court might interpret the law’s intent.
According to a June 2006 report on the state department of community affairs Web site, roofers and contractors such as Peffer tend to comply with state codes that address wind damage.
The report, titled “Top Ten Florida Residential Building Code Violations,” said that violations for inland counties were connectors and trusses. Violations in the coastal counties, such as Pinellas, were for roof sheathing and strapping.
“Inland counties had a higher occurrence rate of violations than coastal counties,” the report reads.
Robert D. Nagin, the director of the county’s building and development review services department, said the guidelines were developed with other building officials, contractors and members. He likens the reinforced codes to insurance. An insurance policy might seem very expensive when the homeowners doesn’t need it, but when a hurricane or tropical storm strikes, that coverage is very cheap.