For building owners and property managers who may soon be facing the 40-year building recertification process in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, Benjamin Franklin’s advice on prevention is fitting.
The 40-year Building Safety Inspection Program was created in 2005 and has become effective throughout Broward County since January 2006. It’s modeled after Miami-Dade County’s program, which is now more than 30 years old. Broward’s program calls for structural and electrical safety inspections for buildings 40 years old or older and every 10 years thereafter. One- and two-family dwellings, U.S. and State of Florida government buildings, schools under the jurisdiction of the B.C. School Board, and buildings built on Native American reservations are exempt. Under Section 8-11(f) of the Miami-Dade County code, Miami-Dade County exempts buildings under 2,000 square feet; the Broward County code excludes all buildings under 3,500 square feet.
These inspections are designed to protect people from possible building failures.
Building owners and property managers should consult with structural engineers to have a proper inspection completed as their building nears 40 years of age. When it comes time for a 40-year property assessment, the property owner will receive a notice that an inspection is due. At that point, the property owner will have 90 days to find a structural engineer to complete an inspection of the building and submit a report to either the city or the county. The report will indicate what parts of the building (if any) need to be repaired or replaced. The property owner will then have another 180 days to complete the necessary repair work. Following the completed repairs, the structural engineer will then prepare another report verifying that the initial findings have been remedied.
Buildings on or near the ocean are especially vulnerable because they are constantly exposed to the increased effects of saltwater oxidation and corrosion, as well as minor concrete and masonry cracks. Stucco left exposed to the elements can cause rebar to expand up to seven times its original size, exerting a force of 10,000 pounds per square-inch (PSI). This condition—commonly referred to as spalling—can necessitate extremely expensive concrete restoration. Hundreds of thousands of dollars can be saved in building repair costs alone by following a regular maintenance schedule, applying early detection methods, and practicing aggressive prevention techniques.