Surfside Jumpstarts 40-Year Inspections for Buildings 30 Years and Older

Surfside officials requested that properties at least 30 years old and 3 stories high should begin assessments

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In wake of the deadly collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Fla., the city government is stepping up inspections for aging structures. 

Surfside officials sent out a notice on Thursday, requesting that “owners of buildings over 30 years old and over 3 stories in height” hire a structural engineer and begin assessing their buildings for recertification in advance of the 40-year deadline. 

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Miami-Dade County regulations require buildings to pass a safety inspection 40 years after their construction. Champlain, built in 1981, was undergoing its 40-year recertification at the time of the collapse.

In Surfside, 28 buildings fit the bill, all of which are located on Collins Avenue, where the Champlain tower fell, Surfside building inspector Jim McGuinness told Commercial Observer. The measure is voluntary, he added.

The advisory also encouraged those building owners to hire a geotechnical engineer to “perform an analysis of the foundation and subsurface soils.”

Champlain Towers South, constructed on reclaimed wetlands, had sunk at a rate of roughly 1 to 3 millimeters in the 1990s, according to a report by Florida International University professor Shimon Wdowinski

The day after the collapse, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava ordered a 30-day audit of buildings that passed the 40-year recertification process within the county’s jurisdiction. Surrounding cities followed suit. 

The mayor of Sunrise, Fla., Mike Ryan, ordered a report reviewing all of the city’s buildings that underwent the 40-year inspection during the past year. “We need to make sure that all of those that are part of the [safety] process are doing their job. That includes us — the city,” Ryan told Commercial Observer. 

The city government and mayor will check whether “qualified individuals” conducted the inspections and whether identified structural issues are being repaired, he explained. 

Out by the water, the city of Miami Beach sent engineers to do on-site inspections for oceanfront properties, and the mayor of Sunny Isles launched an audit of every commercial building more than 40 years old. That amounted to 59 buildings, of which 39 had completed their recertifications, according to NBC5. 

The city of Miami sent letters to 125 property owners with properties more than 40 years old, and at least six stories high, requesting that they hire engineers to conduct a structural review, NBC5 reported. The review is not mandatory.