Villages homes exceed standards
By THE VILLAGES DAILY SUN STAFF
THE VILLAGES — **Beware if a home inspector** tries to convince you there is something wrong with your home.
When it comes to home inspections, residents need to be careful because the state of Florida does not regulate home inspection businesses.
“They’re not certified, and they don’t come and look at the actual engineering documents on file with the county,” says Sumter County building official Bob Kegan. “An inspector would come to the building department, get the drawings and take them to the field. They would look at the engineered documents the house is built by. That’s how you do an inspection.”
Homeowners can protect themselves — and their investments — by dealing with home inspectors who are experienced (preferably in construction and engineering), certified by a state or national agency, and insured.
And if you receive an inspection report indicating problems, you should contact the Sumter County Building Department before authorizing any suggested repairs or modifications. They may not be needed.
“Call down here or come to the (Sumter County Government) Annex. Maybe we can put to rest some of the anxieties, or get things on the right road,” Kegan said. “We’ll do whatever we can to assist homeowners.”
You can contact the Sumter County Building Department at 793-0270. The Sumter County Government Annex is located at 8033 East County Road 466, just west of the intersection of County Road 466 and Morse Boulevard. The Building Department office is behind the fire station.
If necessary, Kegan will send one of the county’s certified building inspectors to evaluate areas of concern. The building department staff is ready and willing to answer questions about for-profit inspectors, as well as the MySafeFloridaHome program, a state program that offers free inspections.
Some residents have had their insurance premiums reduced after providing their insurer with a MySafeFloridaHome inspection report, but Villagers should keep in mind that they do not live in a wind-debris region, therefore are not eligible for matching funds to improve their homes.
“We respond to every concern, but we haven’t found any problems in any of the homes in The Villages,” says Kegan. “We just explain to homeowners that their home met the building code when it was built, and it still meets the building code today. We do anywhere between 16 and 18 inspections of each home. If something needs to be corrected, it has to be done before the next inspection.”
Homes in The Villages should not need modifications, anyway, because The Villages has been building beyond the requirements specified in the unified Florida Building Code, which was beefed up after Hurricane Andrew roared through the southern part of the state.
Under old codes, builders needed only to obtain a building permit to start construction. The Florida Building Code, which became law on March 1, 2002, requires builders to obtain a building permit and a certificate from an architect or professional engineer indicating design requirements for a particular structure. And manufacturers must help builders and contractors by identifying the performance characteristics (as determined at independent testing facilities) of their products and systems.
The unified Florida Building Code was drafted in 2001 to replace more than 470 separately administered local building codes. Florida is one of only 13 states with standards that meet the International Residential Code, which the Institute for Business and Home Safety calls “the most effective statewide building code program.”
One of the most significant changes involved the design pressure requirement, which is aimed at preventing significant pressurization of the interior by setting a minimum wind load standard. Florida adopted the national wind protection standard developed by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The stricter codes brought the rest of the state up to the stringent standards being used in The Villages.
“Across the board, The Villages is actually exceeding the minimum requirements of the code. Everything is built at 110 miles per hour, even though they are only required to be built for 100 miles per hour,” Kegan said.