In June 2021 a residential condominium building in Surfside, FL, collapsed, causing the death of 98 people. In May 2022 the Florida government reacted by enacting mandatory structural inspections for aging condominiums (FL Statute Section 553.899), called a “milestone inspection,” intended to increase building safety.
- What is a milestone inspection?
- It is an inspection of the building’s structural integrity and includes inspection of the load-bearing walls and other structural elements designed to provide support and stability for the overall structure.
- Who needs a milestone inspection?
- All condominiums and cooperative buildings in the state of Florida that are three or more stories in height, when the building reaches a certain age, based on the issued certificate of occupancy, are required to have milestone inspections as follows:
- 30 years of age and every 10 years thereafter, or
- 25 years of age and every 10 years thereafter if the building is located within three miles of a coastline.
- If a milestone inspection is required and the building’s certificate of occupancy was issued on or before July 1, 1992, the building’s initial milestone inspection shall be performed before December 31, 2024.
- What is the purpose of the milestone inspection?
- The purpose of the milestone inspection is to determine if evidence of substantial structural deterioration (meaning structural distress that negatively affects a building’s general structural condition and integrity) can be identified. Surface imperfections such as cracks, distortion, sagging, deflections, misalignment, signs of leakage, or peeling of finishes do not need to be documented as part of the milestone inspection unless they are considered a sign of substantial structural deterioration. The purpose of the milestone inspection IS NOT to determine compliance with the Florida Building Code or the fire safety code.
- Who can perform a milestone inspection in Florida?
- An inspection can be performed by a licensed architect or engineer authorized to practice in the state of Florida who is qualified to attest to the general structural condition of the building and any necessary maintenance, repair, or replacement of any structural component.
- How is a milestone inspection to be performed?
- The licensed architect or engineer conducts the milestone inspection in the following phases:
- Phase 1—Consists of a visual examination of the major structural components to determine if evidence of substantial structural deterioration is present. Upon completion of the inspection, a report is submitted to the building department. If no signs of substantial structural deterioration are found, phase 2 of the inspection is not required.
- Phase 2—Performed if any substantial structural deterioration is identified during phase 1. A phase 2 inspection may involve destructive testing to confirm if the building is structurally sound and safe and to recommend a program for assessing and repairing distressed and damaged portions of the building.
- What is included in the milestone inspection report(s)?
- A list of the material findings and recommendations
- A description of the manner the inspection was performed
- An identification of all substantial structural deterioration and repair recommendations
- A determination of whether unsafe or dangerous conditions were identified
- A recommendation for remedial or preventive repair of non-substantial structural deterioration damage
- An identification of items requiring further inspection
- A separate summary of findings (see below)
- Signature and seal on all reports by the licensed engineer who performed the inspection
a. Florida has now imposed a state-wide structural inspection program for condominium and cooperative associations three (3) stories or more in height, defined as a “milestone inspection.”
2. Who is responsible for complying?
a. Community association managers or management companies contractually hired by a condominium association subject to this inspection must comply with this section as directed by the board.
a. Milestone inspections must be performed by December 31 of the year the building reaches 30 years in age, based on the issue date of the building’s certificate of occupancy, and every ten years after that.
b. Buildings within 3 miles of the coastline must perform a milestone inspection by December 31 of the year they reach 25 years in age and every ten years after that.
a. Buildings with a certificate of occupancy issued on or before July 1, 1992, must have the initial milestone inspection performed before December 31, 2024.
b. All others follow the year based on the issue date of the building’s certificate of occupancy mentioned in question 3.
5. Who is responsible for the cost of the milestone inspection?
a. Condominium and cooperative associations are responsible for the scheduling and costs associated with the milestone inspection.
6. What type of inspection takes place in the milestone inspection?
a. Milestone inspection means a structural inspection of a building’s primary structural systems.
a. Milestone inspections must be performed by a Florida licensed engineer/architect who must attest to the life safety and adequacy of structural components of the building