2022 was another intense and costly hurricane season in Florida. With an estimated $3.8 billion in storm-related damage, 2022 may end up as Florida’s costliest hurricane season of all time. But on a positive note, earlier in 2022, Florida’s legislature passed the My Safe Florida Home program. The program provides homeowners with free home inspections that aim to identify wind-mitigation improvements. It also provides funding for the wind-mitigation improvements identified during the inspections.
Storm-mitigation improvements will protect those homes against damage in future hurricanes. The legislature also intended to provide some relief from the high property insurance rates that have skyrocketed in recent years due to hurricane damage.
Who Is Eligible
The program is open to owners of site-built, single-family homes only. Unfortunately, that excludes mobile homes, which are highly susceptible to major damage in storms.
How to Apply
If you believe you’re eligible to participate in the My Safe Florida Home program, visit this site to apply and arrange for your home inspection. You can review the requirements for eligibility, and see a list of documentation required with your application, here.
How Does the Program Work?
The program has two main components:
- It provides free, professional inspections to identify wind-mitigation improvements for your home. Homeowners will receive a report detailing the inspector’s recommended improvements. There is no obligation to make the recommended improvements after the inspection.
- It provides grants to hire approved contractors to make the improvements identified in the inspection report. You, as homeowner, are eligible for $2 in grant funding for every $1 you spend on approved improvements, up to $10,000. So if you spend $5000 for improvements, you’re eligible for up to $10,000 in grant funding.
- You’ll also skip the sales tax on certain materials. When you purchase impact-resistant windows, doors, and garage doors, through June 30, 2024, you won’t have to pay Florida’s 6% sales tax.
What’s In the Inspection Report?
Your inspection report will include a Hurricane Wind Resistance Rating. This rating assigns a number from 0-100 based on how well your home will withstand hurricane-force winds. Homes built to Florida’s strictest building codes are expected to perform the best and receive a higher rating
The inspection report also includes a list of recommended hurricane-mitigation improvements.
What Improvements Are Eligible In the Program?
The My Safe Florida Home program includes seven types of hurricane-mitigation improvements, which the inspector presents as 1-3 improvement plans labeled A, B, and C. Plan A will be the most basic improvements, which cost the least, have lower potential home insurance savings, and result in the lowest final score on the Hurricane Wind Resistance rating. For the highest score, look to Plan C. It will also offer more potential insurance savings, and cost the most. Plan B will fall in between Plans A and C.
The report will also outline “alternative” improvements and “additional” improvements. Alternative improvements suggest different approaches within categories A, B, and C that you can consider. Additional improvements lie outside plans A, B, and C but would be beneficial in improving your home’s readiness for hurricanes.
The seven types of improvements are as follows:
- Improving the strength of your roof deck attachment. Your inspector will examine how your homes’ roof decking is secured to the roof framing. If it consists of plywood nailed in place and covered with asphalt shingles, for example, the inspector may recommend additional nails, longer nails, or additional hardware attachment from the underside.
- Creating a secondary water barrier to prevent water intrusion. This improvement will depend somewhat on your circumstances. If you need to address existing leakage between plywood sheets in the roof decking, the report may recommend using a “peel and stick” material. You may do this from the outside if the decking is accessible after shingles have blown off. Or you might apply this from underneath if you don’t have access to the leaky area. This is a temporary repair, which can be helpful until you can replace the roof, which will include a new exterior secondary water barrier. This barrier works with the shingles or other exterior roof material, thus it’s considered to be “secondary.”
- Improving the survivability of your roof covering. Your inspector will provide 1-3 suggestions, incorporated into Plans A, B, and C. You could replace the roof, for example, with hurricane-resistant shingles that are stronger than the existing shingles. Longer roofing nails might also be specified, which can provide a higher wind-speed rating.
- Bracing gable-end walls. Gable roofs present a large vertical plane to the wind, so it’s wise to install extra internal bracing to increase strength and resistance to high winds.
- Reinforcing roof-to-wall connections. The roof-to-wall connection can be a prime spot for the wind to catch the eave overhang, for example, causing part of the roof to lift off the walls. Installing metal tie-down hardware, often called “hurricane clips,” can help you avoid that disaster.
- Window and Door protection. This step is actually improvements 6 & 7, as the report will recommend that improvements for openings like windows and doors be done at the same time. Improvement 6 includes three levels of protection for openings, which are defined as garage doors, skylights, gable vents, exterior sliding glass doors, and windows.
- 6A/7A: As the lowest-cost option, 6A/7A requires temporary protective structural panels—like the ubiquitous sheets of plywood you see—that must be installed before each storm on a one-story house. For two-story homes, you’ll need to install standard shutters on the first-floor openings, and permanent shutters on second-floor openings.
- 6B/7B: This standard requires “permanently attached” devices on openings, which you deploy when needed.
- 6C/7C: This standard includes “permanently deployed” protection such as doors, windows, and hurricane screens with an impact rating. These devices are always ready and don’t require you to do anything for protection. This is obviously the most convenient approach.
- Replacement garage doors must be a hurricane-rated impact door, or must be a combination door and track system.
Other Considerations In the My Safe Florida Home Program
The program has approved inspectors and contractors. When you apply for an inspection, the administrators will assign an approved inspector to you. Contractors must apply to be part of the program, so contact the Department of Financial Services to check if your preferred contractor is participating.
How Do I Apply for Grant Funding?
After you’ve received your home inspection, you can apply for grant money. You’ll need to provide the documentation with your application:
- Proof of homestead exemption. You can contact your local property appraiser or tax collection office for assistance.
- Proof that your home is insured for less than $500,000. Review your property insurance declarations page or contact your insurance company.
- Proof that your home is located in the wind-borne debris region of Florida.
- Proof that your home’s initial building permit was issued before January 1, 2008. Contact your local building department or appraiser’s office for help.
- Finally, you’ll be required to allow a post-improvement inspection.
We’re Here When You Need Us
Does your home need a new roof or repairs? Give us a call at 813-373-9088. Our team has more than 40 years of experience in roofing. You can also use this form and ask us, “what’s the cost to replace my roof?” Then we will contact you.