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What is building code compliance?

Building codes are specific regulations and standards governing the construction and maintenance of buildings, including safety, sanitation, and accessibility standards. Building code compliance is vital in land use and zoning because it helps ensure that buildings are safe and habitable.

Federal, state, and local land use and zoning regulations may impose additional requirements on building construction and use, such as setback requirements, height restrictions, and use restrictions. Thus, building code compliance is two-fold: (1) ensuring that a building meets all safety, construction, sanitation, and accessibility standards and (2) confirming that it is used in accordance with its intended purpose as specified by zoning regulations.

Need help with a matter related to building code compliance? Schedule your consultation today with a top land use and zoning attorney.

In Florida, which laws and regulations relate to building code compliance?

The Florida Building Code (FBC) is the primary state-level regulation that establishes minimum standards for the design, construction, and maintenance of buildings in Florida. The FBC is updated on a three-year cycle to remain current and effective. Compliance with the FBC is mandatory for all new construction, as well as for renovations and additions to existing buildings.

Traditionally, local governments in Florida are responsible for enforcing the FBC and establishing their own land use and zoning regulations. These regulations may include requirements for setbacks, building heights, and permitted uses, among other things. Local governments may also require buildings to undergo a review process, such as a site plan review before construction begins.

Multiple Florida laws, including Fla. Stat. § 186.007 and Fla. Stat. § 163.3194, require that local governments prepare and adopt comprehensive plans that guide land use and development in their jurisdictions. These plans must be consistent with the FBC and other state regulations.

What are common issues regarding building code compliance that lead to litigation?

The following issues are among the most common in actions regarding building code compliance in land use and zoning matters:

  • Violations of Zoning Ordinances: Zoning ordinances regulate how land can be used, and violations of these ordinances can result in legal action. Zoning violations include using a property for a purpose not permitted by the zoning designation or building a structure that exceeds the maximum allowable height or density.
  • Building Setbacks: Setbacks are the distances between a building and the property line, and zoning ordinances often require them. Failure to comply with setback requirements can result in legal action, especially if the violation affects a neighbor’s property, such as through blocked views or loss of sunlight.
  • Land Use Restrictions: Land use restrictions, such as conservation easements or deed restrictions, can limit how a property can be used or developed. Violations of these restrictions can result in legal action, including lawsuits seeking to enforce the limits or seeking damages for violations.
  • Non-compliance with Environmental Regulations: Environmental regulations may also impact building code compliance and can result in litigation. For example, building on protected wetlands or failing to comply with stormwater management requirements can result in legal action.

When a set of facts results in non-compliance with the building code, there are many paths a claimant may take. We are value-based attorneys at Jimerson Birr, which means we look at each action with our clients from the point of view of costs and benefits while reducing liability. Then, based on our client’s objectives, we chart a path forward to seek appropriate remedies.

To determine whether your unique situation may necessitate litigation, please contact our office to set up your initial consultation.

What are effective measures to minimize the risk of litigation over a lack of building code compliance? 

Several measures can be taken to minimize the risk of litigation over lack of building code compliance, including:

  • Working with Experienced Professionals: Hiring experienced professionals, such as architects and contractors, can help ensure that building projects comply with all applicable building codes and regulations. These professionals can also help identify potential compliance issues before they become significant problems.
  • Obtaining Necessary Permits: Obtaining the necessary permits before starting construction or renovation is essential for building code compliance. This includes zoning permits, building permits, and any other permits required by local or state authorities.
  • Staying Up to Date on Regulations: Building codes and zoning regulations are constantly evolving, and it is crucial to stay current on any changes or updates that may impact a building project. This can be done by regularly reviewing local and state regulations, attending training sessions or seminars, or consulting with experts in the field.
  • Conducting Regular Inspections: Regular inspections during construction and after completion can help ensure that buildings comply with all applicable building codes and regulations. This can help identify potential compliance issues early on and prevent them from becoming significant problems.
  • Communicating with Stakeholders: Clear communication with stakeholders, including neighbors, community groups, and local officials, can help ensure that everyone knows building plans and can voice any concerns or objections early on. This can help avoid potential legal challenges down the road.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the consequences of building code violations?

Consequences of building code violations concerning land use and zoning can include fines, penalties, and legal action. In some cases, buildings may need to be modified or demolished to comply with applicable regulations.

Why is building code compliance important concerning land use and zoning?

Building code compliance is essential for land use and zoning because it helps ensure the safety of occupants and protects the environment. Compliance with building codes and zoning ordinances also helps prevent disputes between property owners and neighbors and reduces the risk of legal action.

What are some common building code violations about land use and zoning?

Some common building code violations concerning land use and zoning include failure to obtain necessary permits, building in prohibited areas, exceeding maximum height or density limits, and failure to meet safety standards.

Have more questions about a building code compliance-related situation?

Crucially, this overview of building code compliance does not begin to cover all the laws implicated by this issue or the factors that may compel the application of such laws. Every case is unique, and the laws can produce different outcomes depending on the individual circumstances.

Jimerson Birr attorneys guide our clients to help make informed decisions while ensuring their rights are respected and protected. Our lawyers are highly trained and experienced in the nuances of the law, so they can accurately interpret statutes and case law and holistically prepare individuals or companies for their legal endeavors. Through this intense personal investment and advocacy, our lawyers will help resolve the issue’s complicated legal problems efficiently and effectively.

Having a Jimerson Birr attorney on your side means securing a team of seasoned, multi-dimensional, cross-functional legal professionals. Whether it is a transaction, an operational issue, a regulatory challenge, or a contested legal predicament that may require court intervention, we remain a tireless advocate every step of the way. Being a value-added law firm means putting the client at the forefront of everything we do. We use our experience to help our clients navigate even the most complex problems and come out the other side triumphant.

If you want to understand your case, the merits of your claim or defense, potential monetary awards, or the amount of exposure you face, you should speak with a qualified Jimerson Birr lawyer. Our experienced team of attorneys is here to help. Call Jimerson Birr at (904) 389-0050 or use the contact form to set up a consultation.

Here are some blogs written by JB attorneys that provide more information about building code compliance:

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