CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Weeks after Florida lawmakers passed a bill requiring older condominiums to undergo safety inspections to ensure the buildings’ structural integrity, Central Florida condominium association members have many questions about how the new requirements will impact owners.
“It all depends on how intrusive the inspection is, and how expensive it’s going to be,” said Daniel Rogers, a member of the Sand Pebbles Condominium Association board. “Is it feasible for these associations to afford it?”
In response to last year’s partial collapse of a beachfront condominium in Surfside that killed 98, Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed new legislation into law requiring certain condominiums three stories or taller to be recertified.
Condominiums older than 30 years, or 25 years if the building is within 3 miles of the coast, must be visually inspected by a licensed engineer or architect, and every 10 years thereafter.
Evidence of substantial structural deterioration will require a more thorough, secondary inspection.
The new law also requires condominium associations to study their reserve funds every 10 years to ensure they can pay for any major repairs.
Professional engineering inspections can potentially cost tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the building and the scope of work involved.
“We have only 30 residents here, so a very invasive inspection could be very expensive for everyone,” Rogers said.
State lawmakers expect to provide more detailed information about inspection criteria before the new law is scheduled to take effect in January 2025.
The Florida Building Commission, in consultation with the State Fire Marshal, is required to review the new inspection requirements and make any recommendations to the governor and legislature by the end of this year.
“We’re going to be back in regular session at least one more time before any of this really kicks in, which gives ample time to tweak, amend, hear from the public and people on the ground,” said Jason Pizzo, the Democratic state senator who represents Surfside.
Pizzo and other state legislators plan to host a public forum on the new law later this month.
Until the new state law was passed, only Miami-Dade County, Broward County and a few cities required older condominiums to undergo mandatory inspections.
“I understand there are people who don’t want regulation, in terms of a government agency,” Miami-based engineer John Pistorino told News 6 last year. “But [other] regulations are already there.”
Pistorino, who was involved in the creation of Miami-Dade County’s ordinance requiring condominium inspections after 40 years, investigated the 1974 roof collapse at Miami’s U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency office that killed seven people.
“The salt gets into the concrete through the water, and the salt is very corrosive,” said Pistorino. “The building was almost 40 years old, and that’s what it took to create this deterioration. So that’s why I picked 40 years as being the criteria.”
Florida’s law will require much newer condominiums statewide to be recertified.
Like many condos in Brevard and Volusia Counties, the Sand Pebbles has sat on the beach for nearly 30 years enduring sun, hurricane-force winds and salty ocean air.
Following the Surfside condo collapse, Rogers said the Sand Pebbles Condominium Association voluntarily hired an engineer to verify the condo’s safety.
“These buildings show wear after a while, and so we have them take a look at these signs of wear to make sure there’s not a problem structurally, that the foundation is sound, there are not sinkholes,” said Rogers, who generally opposes government mandates like the new condo inspection requirement. “We take good care of it. We stay ahead of it. We have good reserves. We take care of the building.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.