Structural integrity and safety are paramount when it comes to buildings, especially those situated along coastlines that face unique environmental challenges. To ensure the wellbeing of residents and the longevity of coastal condominium and cooperative association buildings, the state of Florida has introduced an important mandate: Milestone Inspections. Let’s delve into what these inspections entail, who they apply to, and why they’re crucial.
What are Milestone Inspections?
Milestone Inspections, established by Florida state law in effect from May 26, 2022, are a series of structural assessments aimed at safeguarding buildings’ structural components. These assessments are conducted by licensed architects or engineers authorized to practice in the state. Unlike regular inspections that assess building code compliance, the focus of milestone inspections is on life safety and the adequacy of structural components.
Who is Impacted?
Coastal condominium and cooperative association buildings that are three stories or taller, and located within three miles of the coastline, fall under the scope of these milestone inspections. The timeline for these inspections varies based on the building’s Certificate of Occupancy date:
Buildings with a Certificate of Occupancy date on or before December 31, 1996, must be inspected by December 31, 2024, and subsequently every 10 years.
Buildings with a Certificate of Occupancy date on or after January 1, 1997, must be inspected by the December 31 of the year when the building reaches 25 years of age, and then every 10 years thereafter.
It’s important to note that single-family, two-family, or three-family dwellings with three or fewer habitable stories above ground are exempt from these requirements.
The Inspection Process
Milestone inspections consist of two phases:
- Phase One: A visual examination of habitable and non-habitable areas, including major structural components, to assess the building’s structural condition.
- Phase Two: If substantial structural deterioration is identified in Phase One, Phase Two involves more extensive testing, including potentially destructive measures, to assess areas of distress and recommend repairs.
Submitting Inspection Reports
Upon completing Phase One or Phase Two inspections, the architect or engineer must provide an inspection report, including material findings, recommendations, and any necessary repairs. This report is then submitted to the condominium or cooperative association and the local building official. Reports must meet certain criteria, including bearing the electronic signature of the design professional.
Completing the Process
If no substantial structural deterioration is found in Phase One, a letter confirming the completion of the milestone inspection is sent. However, if repairs are required, permits for repair work must be applied for within 150 days. Once repairs are completed, an amended report stating the building’s safety for continued use is submitted.
Fees, Extensions, and Penalties
Fees associated with these inspections include a report fee of $50 and extension fee of $100. These fees are the responsibility of the condominium or cooperative association. Extensions, if needed, can be applied for under specific circumstances, and failing to comply with inspection requirements can result in fines and penalties.
The Importance of Milestone Inspections
Milestone Inspections are a proactive measure to ensure the structural integrity and safety of coastal condominium and cooperative association buildings. By identifying and addressing structural deterioration early on, these inspections contribute to the long-term sustainability of buildings and the safety of their occupants.
In a region where buildings face the challenges of coastal environments, these inspections are a testament to Florida’s commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of its residents.