President’s Report: Irma Observations

Irma left Florida, and I say good riddance. As if FHBA did not have enough on its platter (readying for Fall Conference, preparing next year’s budget and working with key legislators on our 2018 legislative priorities), Irma left us more work to be done.

First, it is worthy to note that FHBA members report the building code performed very well. The Florida Building Commission will receive a forensic analysis of how the code performed and we expect that report to confirm the observations of FHBA members. The Florida Building Commission is to be commended for their tireless efforts to develop such a strong code protecting Florida’s citizens.

The Senate General Government Appropriations Committee has asked that the FHBA present its observations about the code. FHBA staff is working diligently on that presentation which will include member observations about on the code’s integrity and some of the barriers to recovery, such as a lack of skilled labor and lack of insurance coverage when the Governor expands a General Contractor’s scope of work.

Opponents of our building code modernization bill continue spreading their misconception that HB1021 weakened the code. Something amazing happened this week. An industry reporter actually read the bill before interviewing us. She began admitting the bill does not weaken the code. We continue to engage key legislators and staffs to determine if this propaganda is working. I am pleased to report they have not fallen prey to the misleading statements and agree the bill only changed the adoption process, not the code. Our critics appear to be losing credibility.

Irma’s destruction is not isolated to one or two counties. Rebuilding will be a challenge. How should FHBA react? The Sr. Officers have been meeting to answer that very question. Our resulting proposal is local BA centric, intended to help locals help members rebuild. Four pillars of the plan are:

  • Providing grants to members whose businesses property was negatively impacted by the disaster;
  • Launching a pledge drive to encourage at least 10% of our time is devoted to the rebuild effort;
  • Assisting local BAs with financial help to match community needs with available labor; and
  • Creating grant opportunities for locals to host rebuilding fairs.

The program’s success will largely depend on the resource we provide. A dollar for dollar match of $25,000 has been committed. The charitable arm of FHBA, the Future Builders of America, is being tasked with overseeing the program. Look for an opportunity to donate soon!

Yes, Irma left Florida. In her wake, FHBA will rise to the challenges she presents.