Deteriorating non-commercial condominium buildings is a natural, persistent, and serious problem. To address this and provide adequate safety measures for building owners and their tenants, Governor DeSantis signed into law Senate Bill 4-D. This bill directly responds to the Surfside collapse last year that killed 98 people.
Surfside’s Champlain Towers South, a 12-story oceanfront condominium, was completed in 1981 and had just concluded its 40-year recertification by inspectors. After the collapse, the federal investigation determined the condo building had substantial concrete structural damage to its pool deck and was overdue for repairs.
This incident has renewed concern for COA/Cooperative Associations directors and officers responsible for making decisions about the inspection and maintenance of their associations’ buildings and equipment. Any mismanagement of maintenance can result in the officers being held liable for damages.
Changes in Florida regulations will address the problem by mandating that only a licensed engineer will conduct structural integrity evaluations, which will take place on a regular, scheduled basis. Previously, these reserve studies were completed by lesser-trained general inspectors who were only required to note potential impairments.
The new bill significantly improves how structural inspections are completed for buildings with three or more stories. The bill established a statewide structural inspection program, requiring condominium and cooperative associations to conduct Milestone Structural Inspections of their buildings and perform Structural Integrity Reserve Studies to ensure that condominium and cooperative buildings are safe for continued use. Again, an important change to note—a licensed engineer must complete all inspections.
Beryl’s unique advantage as both a home inspection firm and licensed structural engineering firm can help guide you through the new statute that will go into effect December 2024.
We have enjoyed a long reputation for supporting our clients over the years and are proud to consistently deliver balanced direction that can help support your community’s long-term physical and financial health. Let’s have a conversation about your Reserve Study needs. We can be reached at 813-616-3301.
The following FAQs should address any immediate questions regarding the new law.
Q: What is the new legislature, and how does it affect the Structural Integrity Reserve Study?
A: The new legislature mandates that an association conduct Milestone Structural Inspections of their buildings and perform Structural Integrity Reserve Studies to ensure the buildings are safe for its residents’ continued use.
Q: Who is required to conduct a Milestone Structural Inspection?
A: An association is required to employ a licensed engineer or licensed architect to conduct the study.
Q: When do we have to comply with the new mandates?
A: Associations existing on or before July 1, 1992, which are controlled by unit owners other than the developer, must have a Structural Integrity Reserve Study completed by December 2024 for each building that is three stories or higher.
For buildings located within three miles of the coastline, each building within the community that is three or more stories high must be inspected by December 31 of the year in which the building turns 25 years old, and then every 10 years after that. Buildings outside three miles of the coastline must receive an inspection on the year in which the building turns 30, and again every 10 years after.
Q: What must be included in the structural study?
A: The following items must be included in the Study: roof, load-bearing walls or other primary structural members, floor, foundation, fireproofing and fire protection systems, plumbing, electrical systems, waterproofing and exterior painting, windows, and any other item that has a deferred maintenance expense or replacement cost that exceeds $10,000.
Q: Who is responsible for the costs associated with performing a Milestone Structural Inspection?
A: The Association is required to cover all costs. The Structural Inspection Report is an official record of each association and must be maintained for 15 years. tenants and prospective buyers of units have a right to inspect an association’s Milestone Structural Inspection Report.
Q: Wasn’t there a recent change in the mandate?
A: Yes, Senate Bill 154 recently passed and includes relatively minor changes to the sweeping building inspection and reserve laws enacted in 2022. Changes include but are not limited to: 30-year inspections can be done earlier if officials and authorities mandate that they must be done at 25 years, depending on “local” circumstances. SB154 also includes provisions allowing local officials to extend inspection deadlines if building owners have entered into contracts with architects or engineers but the inspection cannot be finished in time. Building components included as part of the required reserve funding have been clarified.
Q: What will happen if the association fails to comply with the new mandate?
A: Failure to comply with the Milestone Structural Inspection is a breach of an officer or director’s fiduciary duties. COA/Cooperative Association directors and officers are responsible for making decisions about the inspection and maintenance of their association’s buildings and equipment. Any mismanagement of maintenance can result in the officers being held liable for damages.
Q: How can Beryl support our association?
A: Beryl has been conducting Structural Integrity Reserve Studies in Florida for decades. We employ licensed engineers, which meet the new legislature requirements. Our professional team has years of experience in ensuring your buildings are safe for their residents’ continued use.
Q: What is included in our Reserve Study?
A: Beryl’s Reserve Studies are conducted by licensed engineers. They are detailed yet easy to read and understand.
Our Reserve Studies consist of two parts:
- Physical Analysis: The information about the physical status and repair/replacement cost of the major common area components the association is obligated to maintain.
- Financial Analysis: The evaluation and analysis of the association’s reserve balance, income, and expenses.