No one will ever forget the June 24th, 2021 tragedy in Surfside, FL. On this day, the Champlain Towers South oceanfront condominium collapsed, killing 98 people. Although no cause of the collapse has been determined, records show the building had significant structural damage in its underground parking garage. At the time of this collapse, the building’s 40-year re-certification inspection was also due. Since this horrific event, there has been much discussion on how best to avoid another catastrophe like this again in the future.
Florida grand jury recommendations
Recently, a Florida grand jury issued a lengthy list of recommendations aimed at preventing another condominium collapse in the future. Below are several items that were highlighted:
- Condominium towers should have an initial re-certification inspection by an engineer between 10 and 15 years after their construction and every 10 years thereafter. (Currently, Dade & Broward counties require inspections at 40 years. Other Florida counties have no requirement.)
- Condominiums should be repainted and waterproofed every 10 years to prevent corrosion.
- Local governments should increase the size of their building departments to include more building inspectors.
- Suspensions of a year or more of the licenses of architects or engineers that submit false or misleading re-certification reports. A second offense would result in a license revocation.
- Requiring architects and engineers who find severe structural damage during an inspection to report it to local officials within 24 hours and not just to the condo board.
- Requiring condo board owners to take courses on their role in overseeing building maintenance and effectively managing a building’s finances.
In closing, it is safe to say that local governments across The Sunshine State will likely implement more strict guidelines as it pertains to condominium maintenance, inspections, & re-certifications. The exact recommendations will vary based on the local cities and towns. With this said, it is safe to assume that the costs to maintain condominiums (particularly those along the coast) to rise. If you are a buyer that is considering the purchase of a coastal condominium unit, it is important that you become well versed on the re-certification process and costs associated with them. Of course, the closer to the coastline that you get, the more critical this becomes. As we know, the saltwater environment can wreak havoc on the integrity of any building.
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