Due to multiple factors, Miami has turned into a tourist attraction to be visited by an increasing number of people looking to vacation in a warm environment and with many recreation alternatives.
The visits received to South Florida by people from different parts of the world, in addition to the same domestic tourist (known as internal tourist), move from business purposes, vacations, transit, or family visits because it is a city mainly populated by immigrants.
Statistics clearly support this growth, since August 2021, the influx of tourists showed an increase in the state of Florida a total of 32 million people according to the EFE news agency.
Tourism in Florida
Florida, for its part, has been steadily increasing tourism between 2009 and 2019 (in 10 years more than 50 million) and an important weight is carried by South Florida if we analyze statistics that also reflect the trend of increasing tourism. Tourism in Miami comparing the years 2018 with a total of 23.3 million against 24.1 million in 2019.
The average lodging cost also known as the Average Overnight Accommodation Cost or average daily accommodation (Average of Daily Rate) is approximately $250, with a significant increase in the historical trend that has generated extra income for the city and the owners of the hotel industry in a very short period of time of billions of dollars.
Sanitation and Safety Requirements
The sum of this volume of visits with the increase in accommodation costs, forces South Florida to guarantee an infrastructure that supports this growth with the development of new tourist attractions and the good maintenance and improvements in the existing ones.
Miami Dade County has not been immune to this and the demands to support growth are supported by rules imposed for the city that guarantee the health and safety of the facilities.
Rule 61C-3.001 Sanitation and Safety Requirements, specified in the DBPR ordinance HR-7020 – Division of Hotels and Restaurants Certificate of Balcony Inspection, has been implemented to guarantee the care that Miami provides to tourism infrastructure.
Although the rule contains a large number of sanitary aspects, it also pays attention to the safety of certain structural elements of hotels and restaurants such as balconies, platforms and rails.
Eastern Engineering Group has not been isolated from the urban, hotel and other types of business growth in Florida and the city of Miami, we have been part of the needs required to improve infrastructure, build and maintain in good condition more than 11,000 projects since the company was founded. This makes us feel proud and commits us more and more to support its development through the different structural engineering services that we offer.
Eastern Engineering Group has an organizational structure separated by divisions that cover different parts of the engineering services we offer. One of the divisions with the most technical experience is precisely the Structural Inspections division, which is frequently contracted by clients who need to comply with the requirements of the codes in what corresponds to the DBPR HR-7020 section.
The term established by the ordinance defines the balcony as a part of the structure that can be accessed and that is not closed except by a railing or parapet.
The rule requires that when these elements are checked, the company that inspects the property (the operator) does so through an inspector who has the necessary knowledge to determine the good condition of the structural elements to be inspected and with the necessary experience to determine the structural safety of the points required by the ordinance.
Usually, the inspector concentrates on the case of the balconies in the search for some signs that show structural deterioration.
The main factors that affect the deterioration of balconies in South Florida are rain, salinity from the wind, especially in the coastal area, and exposure to hurricane events common in South Florida, as well as some failure of design or construction primarily for the use of improper materials or noncompliance with the Florida Building Code.
Without delving too deeply into the technical issues of the structural operation of a balcony, the elements that influence deterioration could lead to the appearance of damage that could typically be cracks, spalling or deflections of the plate, and on many occasions even expose the steel bars that make up the structure of the balcony and that are the product of its corrosion by the aforementioned factors.
Balconies are designed taking into account live and dead loads, live loads are those related to their use, such as people, furniture, planters, etc., dead loads are the weight of the balcony itself plus the weight of the elements that are tied to it and that are usually railings or any other system structurally tied to it.
In our experience the railings are weakened mainly at the connections to the balcony slab and in some cases, we are forced to recommend a repair solution so that the railings regain their structural integrity prior to the damage detected by our inspectors.
Other engineering companies recommend to property owners the use of a structural engineer specialized in structural components to solve the problems of the deterioration of the railings, however, unlike other companies that do not provide this service, our components division structural damage from Eastern Engineering Group the ability to dictate the solution and solve the problem without the need for other engineering companies to be involved, thus speeding up the process of solving structural damage.
Really, the buildings in South Florida, thanks to the demands of the construction departments during the approval period of the projects before moving on to the construction phase, have managed to achieve a very good result in the quality of the structural designs. This contributes in a positive way so that the City of Miami, where Eastern Engineering Group is located, has a safe infrastructure to support the requirements of the regulations of the DBPR HR-7020 – Division of Hotels and Restaurants and maintains the good condition of the buildings and balconies thus strengthening the growth of tourism in our city.
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