As the need for structural engineering in Florida continues to grow, it is essential to stay up to date on the current legal and engineering requirements for buildings and condominiums. This blog post will explore the legal perspective and engineering requirements for buildings and condominiums in Florida.
What is the status of structural-type inspections for buildings in Florida, especially condominiums, from a legal and engineering perspective?
As you may recall, the Florida legislature passed Florida Statute §553.899 requiring mandatory structural integrity inspections for condominium associations and cooperatives for building with three or more stories and more than 30 years in age or 25 years in age if three miles from the coastline.
As part of that Statute, the Florida Building Commission was required to prepare a report and deliver it before December 31, 2022, to the Governor and both Houses of the State Legislature. Click here to download the report (without the appendix) which delivered on December 14, 2022.
Florida Building Commission Report Findings
As you can see, the main recommendation is that the Florida Building Commission has asked the Florida Legislature to give it rulemaking authority to prepare rules to clarify how the inspections, called “milestone inspections,” should be done.
The Florida Building Commission would like to craft the rules on how the inspections are to be done by creating a new section in the Florida Building Code where the regulations and proposed forms for the milestone inspections would be placed.
Of course, there were other recommendations as well to clean up some ambiguity in the Statute as it currently reads, such as requiring a special inspector or structural engineer to be the only person who can do the phase 2 milestone inspection, which is an inspection of substantial structural deterioration found in the phase 1 milestone inspection. I suspect a clarifying edit will likely be requested because it makes no sense to say “an engineer or architect” can do the phase 2 milestone inspection. Instead, the inspector on phase 2 milestone inspection needs to be an engineer who is truly in the structural world, like one who designs buildings of more than three stories or one certified as a special inspector/threshold inspector.
This is especially true in Florida cities like Surfside, which have many older high-rise buildings that need extra attention when being inspected. Florida law states that these engineering inspectors must meet specific criteria and qualifications to perform these milestone inspections. They must demonstrate experience related to the design and construction of buildings as well as knowledge regarding codes applicable to the particular type of construction under consideration. Furthermore, these engineering inspectors must have at least four (4) years of experience inspecting similar structures before conducting any milestone inspections.
I suspect this current legislative session will result in some changes to the Statute, like giving the Florida Building Commission the rulemaking authority because the legislature is not capable, or likely desirous, of drafting the type of technical rules required to make the milestone inspections efficient.