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Are Hurricane Shutters Mandatory for Florida Homeowners?

Posted by Jimmy Hawley on Apr 19, 2021 8:00:00 AM
Are Hurricane Shutters Mandatory for Florida Homeowners?

If you’re new to southwest Florida, you’ve probably heard just how devastating a powerful storm can be. But with the right hurricane protection, they don’t have to be so worrisome.

The best way to protect your home during extreme weather is to install hurricane protection over your windows— and one of the most popular choices is hurricane shutters. After all, there are a number of different types of hurricane shutters available, including roll down, accordion, and Bahama shutters, giving you a variety of options for strength and style.

But are hurricane shutters mandatory to install if you live in SWFL — specifically enforced by the Florida Building Code? In this post, we’ll talk about hurricane protection requirements in our Sunshine State as well as your choices for protection as a homeowner.

Either Hurricane Shutters or Impact Glass are Typically Required 

The Florida Building Code requires any home built after 2001 to have a qualifying form of storm protection for its windows. But what’s a “qualifying form of storm protection” even mean?

“The two major methods of satisfying the requirement for protecting a building against external wind impact are by installing impact-resistant glass or covering the openings with hurricane shutters,according to the state’s building code.

So the short answer to “are hurricane shutters required in Florida?” is “YES, but… only if you don’t already have impact windows.” And it’s also not that simple...

The second consideration of that rule is the year your home was built. Homes erected after 2001 must have one (either impact glass OR hurricane shutters) installed upon construction. However, as of writing this article, it’s 2021. Homes built in 2001 are 20 years old now, which is past the recommended lifetime of some storm shutters— meaning, in order to stay compliant with your county’s requirements (and safe from storms!), you may have to replace them with modern, improved hurricane shutters. If your home had impact glass installed upon its construction, this might not be a concern since they often have a longer warranty and life expectancy. 

The third factor to whether or not storm protection is mandatory is your location in Florida. Certain grades of storm shutters or windows are required for High-Velocity Zones as opposed to other counties. See the specific requirements here or ask your local storm solution installer about what’s required for your area.

Here are 5 Things You Need to Know About Hurricane Shutters before purchasing any!

Why Hurricane Shutters

Hurricane-force winds can lead to a tremendous amount of pressure against your windows. Without hurricane shutters or impact-resistant glass, your windows may shatter as a result of this pressure, bringing in rain and debris that can cause significant damage to your home. 

Hurricane shutters are made of materials that can endure wind, rain, and debris, and they're tested to withstand hurricane-rated winds.

In addition to their superior strength and durability, storm shutters are also:

  • More effective than other window coverings. Some homeowners try to save a buck by hammering plywood over their windows pre-storm or installing cheaper solutions like storm panels. Even if you install plywood perfectly (although the majority of homeowners do not), it still may not be strong enough to withstand the pressure of hurricane winds. And while we do offer storm panels as an economic option until you can afford shutters, hurricane shutters are made of stronger materials and the more reliable, convenient option.
  • Easy to deploy. There are two main categories of hurricane shutters: temporary and permanent. Temporary shutters are usually storm panels made of plastic or metal that need to be installed before a storm and removed afterward. Permanent shutters are installed by a professional hurricane protection company and are permanently affixed to your home. Permanent shutters are the easiest type of hurricane shutters to deploy, and they will be ready to protect your home in a matter of minutes.
  • Cost-effective. Compared to impact windows, hurricane shutters are fairly cost-effective. Accordion, Bahama shutters, and roll down shutters are all more expensive than storm panels, but they're still less expensive than impact windows. 

Questions to Ask Before Choosing Storm Shutters

If you’re weighing your options between storm shutters and impact glass to meet Florida Building Code’s requirements, ask yourself a few important questions:

  1. Do you want to feel like you’re always protected?
  2. Does your home have second-story or hard-to-reach windows?
  3. Do you want an aesthetic that fits your home?
  4. Do you want to be able to see outside during the storm?
  5. Are you concerned with the cost? 

Depending on your answers, you may be better off replacing your windows with impact glass instead of installing shutters. Get help choosing between the two here.

Impact Glass Meets the Requirement Too!

While we’ve included a few resources in this article to help you decide if hurricane shutters or impact glass is the best option for meeting Florida’s mandatory building code requirements, none compare to our downloadable guide.

In 12 Things You Need to Know About Impact Windows we introduce you to some big perks of replacing your windows with shatter-resistant glass. Get it for free, today.

Tip Sheet: 12 Things You Need to Know About Impact Windows

Topics: Hurricane Shutters