Post Surfside: Florida Senate Bill Would Set ‘Minimum’ For Statewide Inspections, But Counties Could Go Further | Florida

Ninety-eight people died when the 12-story Champlain Towers South collapsed in Surfside. Legislation pending in the Legislative Assembly aims to prevent this from happening again.

The measure (SB 1702) would mandate periodic “milestone” inspections of multi-story residential buildings, like those already required in Miami-Dade and Broward counties and cities like Key Biscayne.

He advanced Tuesday on a 9-0 vote from the Senate Community Affairs Committee.

“We have half a million condo units in our state that are between 40 and 50 years old, over 100 that are 50 or older, and there is no requirement that they be inspected. There is no requirement for unit owners to be aware of the status of their building,” said the bill’s sponsor, Jennifer Bradley, who represents Northeast Florida Counties. Bradley is chairman of the Senate Community Affairs Committee.

“While we all wish we could turn back time, what we can do is take meaningful action today to hopefully prevent this tragedy in other communities,” Bradley said.

The same committee OK SB 1610, which provides property tax relief to owners of structures like Champlain South “following destruction caused by sudden collapse.” The tax relief would reflect the loss in value of individual units, sponsors Ana Maria Rodriguez, who represents Monroe and part of Miami-Dade County.

Bradley’s bill defines “stage” inspections as examinations performed by “a licensed architect or engineer licensed to practice in this state for the purpose of certifying the safety of persons and the adequacy of components structural conditions of the building and, where possible, to determine the general structural condition of the building as it affects the safety of that building.”

The language states that the purpose goes beyond mere compliance with the Florida Building Code, whether a structure is a danger to life.

The committee heard from Allen Douglas, executive director of the Florida Engineering Society and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Florida, who helped develop the standards.

“We just wanted to come up with something that we thought was the bare minimum of what should be done,” Douglas said.

The inspection schedule “could be a bit long, to be honest with you,” he said.

“People should be looking at their buildings more often than that, but we felt our responsibility was, if there’s a building that’s been sitting there for 20 or 30 years, depending on where it’s been, and what It hasn’t been properly maintained, we all have an interest in someone knowing what they plan to enter this building.

The bill would require inspections of multi-family residential buildings 30 years after the date of their certificate of occupancy and every 10 years thereafter. If a building is within three miles of a coastline, the initial inspection should take place after 20 years and every seven years thereafter.

This is because sea air can cause steel reinforced structures to corrode. A Miami-Dade County grand jury report found that one of many contributing factors to the Surfside disaster, including known structural damage to its lower floors that were overdue for repairs, a concussion from nearby construction works and possible design and/or construction faults.

Condominium board owners would be responsible for having the inspections done and paying all fees. The requirement would not apply to two-family buildings or those under 3,500 square feet.

Buildings licensed for occupancy on or before July 1, 1992 should be inspected no later than December 31, 2024.

Architects or licensed engineers performing the inspections would look for physical signs of structural compromise, including “cracks, distortion, sagging, excessive deflections, significant misalignments, signs of leakage, or peeling of finishes.”

If nothing is apparent, the inspection stops there. If there is, there will be a phase 2 inspection, which could involve ‘destructive or non-destructive’ testing of the building’s internal structure ‘to confirm that the building is safe for its intended use’ .

Inspectors would file reports and repair recommendations with building owners or condo boards, local governments, and owners of all individual condominiums and on a condo association’s website if it has one. , and they would be available to potential unit buyers.

the Florida Building Commission would have until the end of this year to devise “comprehensive structural and life safety standards for the maintenance and inspection of all types of buildings and structures in this state,” according to the text of the bill. .

“We will let the Florida Building Commission come up with its own standards which can be adopted at their discretion by local governments. But there has to be a minimum standard in the state so that doesn’t happen again,” Bradley said.

Under current law, Florida does not require recertification or regular building inspections, although Miami-Dade County since the 1990s has inspected buildings 40 years after construction and Broward County since 2006, according to a bill analysis.

Boca Raton recently began requiring inspections for buildings after 30 years.

Portions of this report first appeared on the website of the Florida Phoenix, a nonprofit news organization dedicated to covering state government and Tallahassee politics.

Norman D. Briggs