Last week Hurricane Matthew slammed the northeast coast of Florida. Buildings from the Space Coast through Jacksonville suffered significant wind damage. One area of a building often damaged after winds like those experienced in Hurricane Matthew is the roof.

Whether you are a homeowner or business owner it is imperative you inspect your roof for damage. You can either inspect the roof yourself or hire a trained professional.

Once you’ve either examined your roof yourself or had it examined and determine that it suffered damage you should immediately report a claim to your insurance carrier. Don’t wait! Failing to give prompt notice of the damage could affect your coverage under your insurance policy.

Your insurance company should send a licensed adjuster to inspect your roof and document the damages. Side note: You should also document your damages. Take photographs!

Now this is where the Florida Building Code 25% Rule comes into play. The Florida Building Code Section 708.1.1 provides:

Not more than 25 percent of the total roof area or roof section of any existing building or structure shall be repaired, replaced or recovered in any 12 month period unless the entire roofing system or roof section conforms to requirements of this code.

This means that if your roof is damaged more than 25% of the total roof section due to winds or a fallen tree from Hurricane Matthew then the policyholder is entitled to replacement of the entire roof section. If your roof is damaged less than 25% then a patch is acceptable. However, if the damage persists after the patch and you are required to repair more than 25% over the next year; then again, a complete roof replacement is required. This rule applies to both homeowner and commercial buildings.

You might ask, “what is a roof section?” A roof section is defined by the Florida Building Code as:

A separating or division of a roof area by existing expansion joints, parapet walls, flashing (excluding valley), difference of elevation (excluding hips and ridges), roof type or legal description; not including the roof area required for a proper tie-off with an existing system.

In layman’s terms, two sides of sloping roofs are a single section. However, if the roof involves two elevations or different roofing materials, then they are considered different roof sections.

If your insurance company inspects your roof and advises that the damage is less than 25% and requires only a patch always obtain a second opinion from a licensed roofing contractor or a licensed public adjuster. The last thing you want is a patched roof that becomes a persistent leaking nightmare!