Requirements for Hurricane Shutters in Dade County, Florida

Danielle Hill

Miami-Dade and Broward counties comprise the High Velocity Hurricane Zone. All construction within this zone is subject to particularly stringent building codes, designed to withstand hurricane-strength winds and storm surge waters. The HVHZ building code applies to all areas of construction, including the design and implementation of hurricane, or storm, shutters.

General Regulations

In Miami-Dade county, hurricane shutters must adhere to an especially strict building code.

Hurricane shutters, also known as storm shutters, are specifically regulated in Florida building code. In the High Velocity Hurricane Zone, all exterior glass surfaces, including both windows and doors, must be protected by shutters. As an exception, glass elements which are approved as meeting the building code requirements for impact loads do not require shutters. Hurricane shutters must be designed by a qualified, Florida-registered engineer, or by an overseeing architect who is so qualified. In either case, the designs must bear the seal of the qualified designer and must be reviewed and approved by the overseeing architect or engineer. Shutters must be approved by Florida product control, with the manufacturer's name engraved into every element of the shutter system. Shutters may either be permanently anchored or removable. If removable, then shutters must be neatly stored in an accessible and designated location within the building.

Dimensions and Specifications

Shutters must affix to glass surfaces in such a way that there is a gap of at least one inch between the glass, frame or other components and the shutter at the moment of maximum deflection. If, however, exterior glass elements meet load requirements for HVHZ wind pressures, the gap is unnecessary. Storm shutters must completely cover any openings, with a maximum side clearance between shutter and wall of 1/4 inch. The overlap between shutters must be at least one and a half times the side clearance, or at least 3/8 inches.

Impact and Load Requirements

Within the HVHZ, all exposed exterior building elements, including both shutters and unshuttered glass surfaces, must pass impact and load testing. These tests determine the ability of materials to resist wind-borne debris, and expect the same results from walls, doors, skylights, glazing or glass block, and shutters. For example, one missile test involves striking the test surface with a 9 lb. 2-by-4 at a speed of 50 miles per hour.

Another test, cyclic pressure loading, involves subjecting all elements of the test surface to increasing pressure, uniformly distributed around its frame. Exceptions that need not pass the testing include enclosures for porches, patios, pools or greenhouses; louvered surfaces and sheds not intended to be human dwellings.