Is Re-Nailing the Roof Sheathing Really Needed?
Re-nail the deck. Law and ordinance. Six-inch on center. 3 inches on center. 8D nails. 6D Nails. Automated adjusting. Roofing templates. Inexperienced adjusters or file reviewers. And it goes on.
When it comes to roof damage, whether from hail or wind, insurance carriers now have much more to consider, and more importantly, much more information to review when preparing an estimate for roof repairs. Ask a simple question. Was the claim for roof damage properly scoped and estimated? Answer this question now, and then at the end, once you have finished reading this article. You may be surprised.
Most adjusters do not properly reference building code compliance, or wind mitigation data and conditions on their estimates. Most adjusters simply list or auto-select re-nailing the roof deck / sheathing on every roof to be replaced and the insurer may not know to question the estimate or dig into the code details and pay the claim based on the adjuster’s inadequately informed estimate.
Roofers that use Assignment of Benefit (AOB) documents commonly submit estimates for supposed code requirements and insurers are unaware or don’t know the actual code that should guide the repair protocol, resulting in thousands of dollars in unnecessary claims costs.
Following much research and discussions with adjusters over the last few months, it is apparent that roof decks may already meet the code, pre and post 2001 and require no law and ordinance coverage, yet roof estimates are being submitted without any consideration of factors that could directly contribute to roof claim cost reductions.
Attic verification, permit research, wind mitigation data submitted by home inspectors are all now more important than ever from a claims process. Insurance companies should determine if the adjuster verified code compliance for wind mitigation and if not make the necessary adjustments during the file review process.
To understand the history of wind mitigation and how strengthening the roof deck attachment came about, we must go back to the effects of Hurricane Andrew. Andrew quickly pointed out the deficiencies in construction and the building codes at the time, particularly relating to roof systems and how their failure led to catastrophic failures of entire structures. Hurricane Resistant Construction Standards (SSTD-10) were developed for the Standard Building Code and their goal was to encourage the entire state to adopt minimum standards for all construction practices, particularly in higher wind zones.
The building codes in the State of Florida pre-1994 were, and still are, somewhat confusing because they varied from region to region. The Standard Building Code, SBC, was first introduced in 1945, and from research appeared to have been adopted by Florida in 1957. It was the predominant code in the state at the time, and was updated various times, including 1997. It was in fact the 1997 Standard Building Code that the 2001 Florida Building Code was developed from, and is for all intents and purposes the same code at that time. In the mid 1980’s Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe developed the South Florida Building Code (SFBC), from the Standard Building Code, with each county having its own version. Other codes used also at the time included the CABO 1 and 2 single family for residential only, with Disney using their own version of the codes called EPCOT.
With so many codes and enforcement differences, you can now see why determining compliance for any code requirement on older housing stock is almost impossible without some knowledge, experience and research. Wind mitigation inspections and 4-point inspections can play a vital part of the insurance carriers claims process, providing there is confidence in the quality of the data available.
The introduction of the 2001 Florida Building Code in March 2002 was a welcome addition to the construction industry and brought much more consistency to the building process, code compliance minimum standards, and a progression to more uniform code enforcement across the state.. The 2001 Florida Building Code has been updated in 2004, 2007, 2010, 2014 and 2017 respectively, with amendments every year in-between.
So, what does all this mean for the requirement of re-nailing the sheathing, (roof deck attachment), on homes built to the 2001 FBC? According to the 2010 Florida Existing Building Codes, all homes built to the Florida Building Codes are exempt from the re-nailing requirements! So, hail or wind damaged roofs on a newer neighborhood may not need re-nailing I hear you say!
The SFBC (South Florida Building Code) included many improvements for building wind resistant structures, including the requirement to strengthen the roof deck attachment. Under the SFBC, 6d nails at 12 and 6 inches on center, could be used for the nailing or re-nailing requirements but with one caveat only. If the location of the subject home was outside the design wind speeds of 110 mph or greater. All of Broward, Monroe and Miami-Dade were in these wind zones and therefore would not comply with the nail requirements mentioned above. To comply these same homes must meet the SSTD standards for Hurricane Resistant Construction as outlined below and not the prescribed standards for the SFBC therefore. The SSTD standards are the companion standards to the Standard Building Code 1997 and were developed for the Standard Building Code where wind speeds exceeded 110 mph.
Not to add more confusion to the codes and standards at the time, but the Standard Building Code, SBC 1994/1997 sections B2306 and SSTD 307.4.2, refer to the Hurricane Resistant Construction Standards, SSTD 10-93 and SSTD 10-07 which required 8d nails at 6 inch on center, for those same wind zones. Both the original 2001 FBC and the SBC specified higher wind speeds for areas closer to the ocean and lower wind speeds for inland areas.
Re-nailing with 8d nails at 6 inches on center, for the field and edge was the requirement for homes in the 110-mph wind zone and above for both of these codes. The 6d nailing specified in the SFBC 1995 was therefore not relevant because all the homes within the respective counties, i.e. Miami-Dade and Broward for example, are located within the higher wind zones, requiring compliance to Hurricane Resistant Construction SSTD 10-93 and SSTD 10-97 which is stricter than the 1994 SFBC. Pre March 2002, the areas of the State that adopted the SBC, was required to follow the nailing requirements that were prescribed to meet the SSTD Hurricane Resistant Construction Standards, (SSTD 10-93 and SSTD 10-97) providing the subject homes were located within the wind zone of 110 mph or higher. You are now probably scratching your head, but don’t give up yet. Keep reading.
What does this mean for a roof claim on a home constructed in Miami-Dade, where, for example, a building permit is dated December 1995 and outlined as compliant to the prescribed nail pattern, on the wind mitigation inspection report? No re-nailing is required, as the roof sheathing should already meet the standards mandated at the time by the version of the SFBC adopted by Miami-Dade. This is also true for all other counties where design wind speeds exceeded 110 MPH that adopted the SBC, because they followed the SSTD 10-93 and SSTD 10-97. Of course, this is only if the permits were applied for and closed and work was properly completed. This should be verified by the home inspector if a wind inspection was properly conducted and verified.
Should re-nailing of roof sheathing be required in regions where the SBC was adopted for homes in design wind zones 110 mph or greater from 1994 up to March 2002, when the 2001 Florida Building Code took effect? The answer is no, according to Jeff Hooper an expert witness in building codes, construction, and providing forensic investigations into buildings and their failures, if the construction at the time met those codes, 8d nails @ 6 inch’s on center, being within the 110 mph and greater wind zone. According to Hooper, if the home inspector completed the wind mitigation inspection report as it is today, and properly verified, ALL the attic areas required, then this is further compliance that the roof should not need to be re-nailed. Based on potential code enforcement issues at the time, Hooper believes more reliance should be based on the home inspectors wind mitigation report or the adjusters reverification process, which is a physical as built analysis to multiple areas in the attic and via special testing devices such as metal detectors. And yes, contrary to popular belief, there is a certain element of code inspection verification required of this form according to Hooper.
Verifying older homes outside of the High Velocity Hurricane Zone, (HVHZ), and pre-March 2002, is harder based on the inherent code difficulties involved as outlined above. The only way to confirm if the nailing for the roof deck attachment meets the code requirements, is to physically inspect the nailing and attachment from within the attic structure. Home inspectors do this regularly for wind mitigation inspections, and their verification of the nail type and spacing dictates what the roof deck attachment strength is. This is one of the elements for wind mitigation credits and one that requires careful examination and verification by the home inspector. At the time of claim, insurers should be able to refer to section C of question 3, OIR B1 1802, but the insurer should have complete confidence in the data. Please note that older homes with plank decking, already meeting the strongest roof deck attachment of the wind mitigation inspection do not require re-nailing if 8 d fasteners are already in place. This is where the comparison of the Florida Building Code and the Wind Mitigation Report requires a little more due diligence.
Now to the Panhandle region of Florida. There is some misunderstanding as to the adoption of the 2001 FBC or rather the panhandle’s exemption from the code. According to Hooper, the Panhandle region was not exempt from the 2001 Florida Building Codes. They were exempt from parts of the code only, those being the requirement to mandate shutters and impact glass because of hardship implications on the homeowners along the coastal locations. Couple this was the fact that some areas may also have been located within the 110 mph or greater design wind speeds, resulting in possibly older and new homes already meeting the nailing requirements in this region. Again, as built wind mitigation inspections will help with this identification.
What about existing homes? The 2010 Florida Building Code Existing Building mandated the re-nailing requirements on existing homes if the nailing was not sufficient to meet the same code. There were no exemptions for this requirement apart from homes already built to the Florida Building Codes. If existing homes did not meet the Hurricane Resistant Standards for their area and were located outside of certain wind zones, re-nailing must be incorporated into the re-roofing project. New homes built from March of 2002 across the state should all be compliant with the nailing requirements and are exempt from this requirement per the 2010 Florida Building Code Existing Building.
While we have talked about the code requirement of strengthening both new construction and existing construction, we must mention too that the Florida Building Code is not silent if the roof system is compliant for the roof deck attachment fastener requirements. Section 1521.5 clearly outlines this in the 2001 Florida Building Code, and newer editions of the codes, requiring re-nailing only if current nailing does not meet the mandated requirements. This is where both the field adjusters and desk adjusters need to review the wind mitigation inspection data and / or the field adjuster’s research and investigations, including past claim information to determine coverage respectively. Physical attic inspections of course are the best way of determining nailing patterns and sizes.
While the current building codes have certainly led to improved housing standards and construction processes, enforcement methods vary throughout the state for the re-nailing requirements during fast paced construction and re-roofing projects. In the High Velocity Hurricane Zone, (HVHZ), roofers can inspect their own work and as such can complete an affidavit confirming the nailing is complete. Some jurisdictions require physical inspections, even though this is not a code mandate, some areas require photographs to be submitted with the completed permit and some require a combination of all.
As code enforcement varies greatly from region to region, reliance on the home inspectors as built physical findings from an insurance carrier may therefore be more accurate. Those with a qualified wind mitigation inspection report can clear up the confusion if the nail patterns are verified and there is confidence in the report quality. This was one of the reasons that the option for insurers to conduct third-party verification of mitigation inspections became part of the legislation and process many years ago.
Finally, we now must contend with past claims and hurricanes, when it comes to new claims and roof damage. Hurricanes Matthew and Irma resulted in thousands of homes being brought up to code in Florida, which will further complicate future damage and claims assessments if this knowledge is not considered and included in the estimate process. Not only will adjusters need to verify if the roof deck was re-nailed throughout or meets the code in place at the time for compliance, but also if it was re-nailed again during a recent hurricane claim. Access to past claim information and underwriting inspection data will be required, in addition to permit research and additional due diligence.
Adjusters may need to enter the attic, use a metal detector to check the nail pattern, check permits, provide code references and comparisons within the estimating guidelines and comments in addition to back up photographs and verification, to verify the re-nailing category requirement of every estimate.
Based on advancements in technology and the ease at which estimates can be generated for roof claims, it is becoming more and more evident that newer adjusters without construction – inspection experience and code knowledge may struggle. File reviewer’s and QA staff will need the necessary documentation to ensure that the estimate provided, matches the coverage required and access to both underwriting and claims information will be a necessity.
The next hurricane will warrant much more work and due diligence when it comes to adjusting and claims. Policyholders that paid for re-nailing or should have had nailing already complete, may need to revert to the prior contractor or roofer where shortfalls exist. Inspectors simply giving the highest insurance credits on the wind mitigation inspection reports, without due consideration to the process and objective of the wind mitigation industry, will need to be more cautious and diligent or should be held accountable where systemic fraud or if erroneous reporting exists.
There is no doubt that the loss costs associated with hurricanes today, are far less because of the advancement of building technologies and the building codes. The pending hurricane season will be interesting to say the least, when adjusters will not only have to contend with the claim assigned, but also the past claims and repairs that have been conducted.
Insurers will start to utilize submitted inspection reports at underwriting during the claims process. Home inspectors will be held to a higher standard because of short falls between claims paid for re-nailing and their completed inspection reports. Some may even be held accountable for their services if intentional mistakes are found. Moreover, some carriers may inadvertently mandate more QA oversight for new policy inspections, in addition to a more in dept analysis of the attic structure and not just the areas around attic opening during the scoping stage.
This refining of the wind mitigation inspection industry has been long awaited and will lead to much greater protection of policyholders and their families in the event of the disaster, just like everyone set out to do all those years ago!
Our research and evidence is conclusive with the following:
- If codes were in place since July 1995 in Miami – Dade, Monroe and Broward for all newly constructed homes and all homes that were re-roofed to include re-nailing the roof deck, then none of these homes should need to be re-nailed.
- All new homes built from March 2002, and all existing homes before this date in Florida that have been re-roofed from 2010. will not need to be re-nailed.
- All homes built and located within the 110-mph wind zone or greater pre-2001 should comply with the SSTD’s and be compliant with the current nailing requirement, if the SBC was the adopted code at the time.
- Insurers can revert to the wind mitigation inspection reports for verification of the nail patterns and sizes, and that adjusters must conduct more due diligence if they are going to estimate a re-nail requirement as part of the estimate process. And this may require the adjusters gaining attic access and / or using a metal detector.
- Insurers may move to a third party verification process for mitigation reports, if systemic errors are found on those mitigation inspection reports submitted in relation to the roof deck attachment and the re-nailing costs from the last two hurricanes.
HVHZ and SFBC – Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe
- New Homes from July 1995 to date – Re-nailing not needed. Refer to wind inspection report.
- New Homes March 2002 – Rest of state – Re-nailing not required. Refer to Building Codes.
Existing homes Outside of HVHZ
- New roofs added between July 1995 and March 2002 – Re-nailing not required where homes located in wind zones 110 mph or greater or if the nailing pattern already meets the current codes and the SBC was the adopted code. Refer to wind inspection report.
- New Homes from March 2002 to date – Re-nailing not needed. Refer to Building Codes.
- Existing Homes throughout the state with new Roofs from 2010 – Re-nailing not needed. Refer to wind inspection report / Building Codes.