Florida Building Code 25% Rule
For property owners who have suffered windstorm related roof damage, it is important to familiarize yourself with the 25% Rule of the Florida Building Code. Specifically, you should look at Section 706.1.1 of the code for existing buildings:
Florida Building Code Section 706.1.1
Not more than 25 percent of the total roof area or roof section of any existing building or structure shall be repaired, replaced or recovered in any 12-month period unless the entire existing roofing system or roof section is replaced to conform to requirements of this code.
This means where more than 25% of the area of any roof section needs to be repaired, replaced, or recovered, the policyholder is entitled to a complete replacement of that section. But what does that actually mean? What exactly is a roof section?
Chapter 2 of the Florida Building Code for Existing Buildings specifies that a roofing section can be defined as:
Florida Building Code Section 2: Definition
ROOF SECTION: A separating or division of a roof area by existing expansion joints, parapet walls, flashing (excluding valley), difference of elevation (excluding hips and ridges), roof type or legal description; not including the roof area required for a proper tie-off with an existing system.
By this definition, both sides of a sloped roof are one section, but any changes in roofing material or changes in elevation are different roof sections.
In some cases the the 25% rule will require that an entire roof system (i.e. the whole roof) be replaced.
After catastrophic storms like the ones that have recently impacted Florida, roof damage is very seldom limited to less than 25% of a roof section. Most roofs that need some repair will actually require a full replacement to comply with Florida Building Code.
How Do Insurance Companies Use This Rule?
Whenever possible, Insurance companies will attempt to use the 25% Rule to their advantage against policyholders. They will try to use the rule by twisting it to work against a policyholder in order to minimize the settlement amount they have to pay on roof damage claims. This seems callous and mean spirited, but all insurance companies are in business to earn a profit, not have excessive payouts in damages because they always do the right thing morally.
Often, they issue specific guidance to their adjusters to look for the least expensive ways to pay claims. In many cases this translates to adjusters trying to justify the damage as being under the 25% threshold whenever possible. They will also try to claim that a roof system is actually made up of several different sections to try to get around the complete replacement requirement when just one section has damage that exceeds 25%.
Another tactic they will often try to employ is to limit the amounts they pay based on the percentage of damage, rather than replacing the entire roof. For example, they might say “Section A” has 14% damage, “Section B” has 21% damage, and “Section C” has 18% damage, thereby minimizing the amount they will have to pay out for the damage claim. While insurers will often explain that this means that they do not meet the 25% threshold, this is not always the case.
Even if the insurance adjuster you were assigned broke up the roof into several “sections” in their evaluations, if the entire roofing system sustained greater than 25% damages, you could actually be entitled to have the entire roof replaced with a new one. While this is the truth, many homeowners wind up paying out of pocket because they took their insurance companies assessment at face value.
Conversely, they may attempt to avoid having to cover the costs of replacing an entire roof by claiming the damaged area is less than 25% when it actually is over 25%. Because they need to keep payouts low, , they would rather attempt to offer an initial payout just to fix the damaged part over providing enough to repair it correctly, because to repair it correctly would exceed 25% and mean a brand new roof.