As Architects and Florida General Contractors one of the most common building code violations we come across in Florida are illegally converted garages. When looking to add rooms most homeowners turn to converting their existing garage into bedrooms and living spaces. Its typically the fastest and most affordable solution but most homeowners fail to pull a permit for the garage conversion. They miss key upgrades required to the garage space as required by the Florida Building Code (FBC), triggering immediate building code violations . The most common code violation we see in garage conversions is failure to raise the floor slab to minimum FEMA standards. In Florida, FEMA requires that the floor height in living spaces be above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) set for the area to prevent flooding during heavy rains and hurricanes. Garage floors are set much lower that living space floors to allow access to cars, however, any equipment that is set in the garage is required to be at minimum FEMA floor height.

With these garage conversion building code violations you typically see a lot of flooding and mold issues immediately after hurricanes and heavy rainy seasons. The mold can quickly spread from the damp and damaged drywall to fiberglass ducts from the airborne  Floor finishes are also one of the first casualties from constant flooding related to this code violation.

A tell tale sign that a garage was converted without a permit is that you have to step down to the converted space. It is possible that once surveyed the garage floor will be at an acceptable height but those situations are far and few in between. In these types of building code violations the floor usually has to be raised to the same level of the existing residence. If the converted garage has a bathroom that requires legalization then the raising of the floor will require most of the plumbing to be redone. Toilets, sinks and tubs can be extended but shower pans can’t be saved and are typically demolished and rebuilt.

Once the garage is converted from a service space to living space there are other Florida Building Code Requirements that are triggered such as electrical outlet spacing, lighting, A/C requirements and sizing for the additional space. If a separate A/C unit was not installed for the converted garage then the odds are the existing unit will not meet the current calculations as per current code. In most cases its more affordable to install a dedicated A/C unit than change out the main unit for the home.The fire Department will also enforce egress requirements as per NFPA 101 that may require installing a window with a larger clearance once opened. specializes in Plans, Permits and Construction to cure Florida building code violations. Our in-house architects and contractors legalized hundreds of building code violations having to do with garage conversions and can save you time and money when dealing with the process. Call us today at (305) 222-7784 for a free site visit and stop the clock on the fines.