As we usher in the new year, property owners and condominium associations in Florida have a critical task at hand: understanding and complying with the statewide mandatory milestone inspection requirements. These inspections, which were implemented in response to the tragic Surfside building collapse, aim to enhance building safety by ensuring the structural integrity of aging condominiums and buildings. In this article, we’ll delve into the details of Florida’s milestone inspection program, helping you start the new year on the right foot when it comes to property maintenance and safety.
What Are Milestone Inspections?
A milestone inspection is a comprehensive structural evaluation of a building conducted by a licensed Professional Engineer or Architect. This evaluation encompasses critical elements such as load-bearing walls, primary structural systems, and other components that contribute to a building’s overall structural stability. The primary purpose of a milestone inspection is to verify the life safety and adequacy of these structural elements while assessing the general structural condition that affects the building’s safety. Additionally, the inspection identifies any necessary maintenance, repairs, or replacements required for structural components.
When Are Milestone Inspections Required?
Florida’s mandatory milestone inspection program applies to condominium associations with buildings that are three stories or more in height. The timing of these inspections is determined by the age of the building, specifically when the certificate of occupancy was issued.
Here are the key milestones:
30 Years or 25 Years If Near the Coast: Buildings must undergo a milestone inspection when they reach 30 years of age. However, if the building is located within three miles of a coastline, the first inspection is required at 25 years of age. Subsequent inspections must occur every ten years.
Pre-1992 Buildings: For buildings with certificates of occupancy issued on or before July 1, 1992, the initial milestone inspection should have been conducted before December 31, 2024.
Understanding the Two-Phase Inspection Process
Milestone inspections follow a two-phase approach:
In this stage, a licensed Professional Engineer or Architect performs a visual examination of the building’s major structural components. The goal is to provide a qualitative assessment of the structural condition. If no signs of substantial structural deterioration are found, a phase two inspection is not necessary. Substantial structural deterioration refers to significant distress that negatively affects a building’s structural integrity.
If phase one identifies substantial structural deterioration, a phase two inspection becomes essential. During this stage, inspectors may conduct more extensive assessments, including destructive testing, when necessary. The objective is to confirm the building’s structural soundness and safety for its intended use. Recommendations for assessing and repairing distressed or damaged portions of the building are also provided.
After the Inspection
Upon completing either phase one or phase two milestone inspections, the architect or engineer must submit a sealed inspection report to the condominium association. This report includes a summary of material findings and recommendations. Copies of these reports must be shared with the local building authority and unit owners and posted in a conspicuous location on the property. If the association maintains a website, the full report and summary must be available online.
It’s important to note that condominium associations are responsible for arranging these milestone inspections and covering associated costs. Given the complexity of these requirements, working with licensed and insured professionals is highly advisable to ensure compliance.
Prioritizing Safety in the Sunshine State
Florida’s mandatory milestone inspections are a proactive step towards enhancing building safety, learned from past tragedies. As property owners and condominium associations prepare for these inspections, they not only fulfill a legal requirement but also prioritize the safety and well-being of occupants. By starting the new year right with a comprehensive understanding of milestone inspections, Florida can continue to progress towards safer and more secure buildings for all its residents. If you’re approaching a milestone inspection for your property, begin the process early to ensure a smooth and compliant experience, setting the foundation for a safe and secure year ahead.