Report: Lousy Code Enforcement Made Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Woes Far Worse

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Experts say it’s not the building code in Puerto Rico that needs improvement. It’s the inspectors.

As reported by Window and Door:

One of our member companies recently reached out to our staff to gain some insight on the lack of building code enforcement in Puerto Rico. The member told us the problem existed before the hurricane but is worse now. He also expressed frustration over competing with other companies that regularly violate code.

Here’s what we found out: The extent and severity of the storm damage has caused many to take a closer look at the island’s building codes. “Weak Building Code Enforcement Exacerbates Destruction in Puerto Rico,” read a December Wall Street Journal headline. “Building codes on Puerto Rico unable to withstand Category 5 storms,” read another, from ABC News. The findings of most experts and government officials in the articles say the issue isn’t the building codes themselves, but a problem of uneven enforcement and widespread informal construction.

In 2011, Puerto Rico adopted the 2009 International Building Code. The 2009 I-codes require that coastal areas in hurricane zones be able to stand up to 140-mile per hour winds. Additionally, the code calls for hurricane-resistant building materials, such as shutters or impact-resistant glazing, in those most at-risk areas. “When it comes to wind worthiness, these building codes are similar to the ones that govern mainland U.S. cities like Miami,” said an engineer at the Insurance Institute of Business & Home Safety in the ABC News article.

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