New Building Recertification Program for Miami Dade County: Everything You Need to Know!
Miami Dade County is making changes to the Building Recertification Program that has previously been put into place. We’ve compiled everything you need to know about the changes and broken down all the details for your convenience. Please note, the information contained within this article applies to unincorporated Miami Dade County. For any further information about changes or differences in programs, it would be best to refer to the local building department specific to your area.
Building recertification programs affect business owners, unit owners, condo and co-op associations, and managers of stated buildings. The program covers buildings such as: Condominiums, cooperatives, apartments, commercial buildings, industrial buildings, retail stores, offices, etc.
History of the Recertification Program
As a result of a DEA-leased building partially collapsing back in August of 1974, Miami Dade County created a Building Recertification Program. The program would require all aging buildings to be inspected by a professional to determine the safety of a structure. The incident in 1974 ended in the unfortunate loss of 7 people, while 16 others were injured. On May 21, 1975 the Board of County Commissioners adopted, as well as passed Ordinance No. 75-34. The ordinance would amend the South Florida Building Code (at the time) to now require that all buildings 40 years or older, be re-certified, regarding their structural safety. This would exclude single-family residences, and duplexes, as well as minor structures.
Wondering why they chose to re-certify buildings after specifically, 40 years? Well, it just so happens that the building leased by the DEA that had been involved in the unfortunate collapse had just turned 40 years old. After the initial 40 year building recertification program has been completed, the building would then be required to be certified there on after, at 10 year intervals.
A Program with a Purpose
The purpose of this program being put in place, in its most general reasoning, is for the sake of safety. And to keep a building safe, we need to get a set of trained eyes in to inspect and determine how exactly a building is aging. Furthermore, a trained professional will be able to identify any signs of structural distress, spot electrical issues, and recommend necessary repairs.
Champlain Towers: Calling for Changes
More recently, the unfortunate collapse of the Champlain Towers directly set changes into motion. Local officials, department staff, as well as interested industry members congregated to discuss strengthening the existing program in place. One of the specific changes made to the original Building Recertification Program includes; Miami adopting a Strengthened Milestone Inspection Program that reduces the inspection recertification being necessary at 30 years compared to 40. In addition, Florida recently adopted and enacted a law that created a milestone inspection program applicable to the entire state. At the moment the buildings these laws apply to are limited to condominium and cooperative association buildings 3 stories or taller.
Condominium & Cooperative Law Changes
Condominiums and Cooperatives also had specific changes made to previous laws. These changes include no longer being able to wave reserves. As well as, a reserve study needs to be provided every 10 years to set maintenance reserve amounts.
Buildings unaffected and not covered by these Building Recertification Programs include: Single family homes and duplexes, agricultural exempt buildings, minor buildings that are 2,000 sqft. in size or smaller and have an occupancy load of 10 people or less, based on building code classifications. Note, both conditions must apply, the size and occupancy load.
If a recertification notice is received and falls under one of these categories, it is the owner’s responsibility to request an exemption in writing from the building official.
Elements of Recertification
Are you wondering what are the methods these inspections for recertification call for? Perfect! Because we’re going to talk about it! A visual inspection is performed initially in order to identify any structural distress throughout the building. The inspector can then perform destructive and/or non-destructive testing. The necessity of the degree of testing is left to the discretion of the inspector. Load testing may also be performed if necessary. Where applicable, the inspector will then review any original engineering documents regarding the building; if they are available. In addition, they can also review any prior building recertification reports; if applicable.
The structural elements inspected for building recertification include:
- The Foundation – specifically for any signs of ground settling.
- Masonry Building Bearing Walls – for signs of settlement cracks.
- Main Structural Elements – for signs of spalling, cracks, or overloading.
- Walls, Floor, and Roof Structural Framing Systems – for signs of spalling, cracks, or overloading.
- Roof Covering – the condition of the roof.
- Windows and Doors – any signs of leaking.
- Building facade- for cladding, appurtenances, or basically anything applied to the facade that could potentially fall off.
The electrical elements inspected for building recertification include:
- Visually inspecting the electrical service equipment.
- Identifying branch circuits.
- Evaluating Wiring.
- Evaluating conduits to be free of dents and structures.
- Inspecting emergency lighting as well as exit signs and fire alarm systems.
- Performing an infrared thermography inspection on any electrical systems operating at 400 amps or higher.
If the original plans and documents for the building can be obtained, they should also be reviewed in order to understand how the building was designed from conception. Why you ask? By studying the original plans for a structure an engineer may be able to come up with quicker solutions if and when the building does in fact need repair.
Public Information & Recertification Link
The following link is a helpful one-stop-shop for a handful of useful information. At the website provided, you can find helpful guidance, information forms, links, Q&A, etc. The website will also include the upload portal needed for submitting and tracking re-certifications. Additionally, you may pay fees online, search building code violations, find case numbers, building information, and search case statuses. Through this website, you can also request documents, as well as view the history of previous recertification cases.
Division of Florida Condominium, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes, of the DBPR
Important to note: On or before January 1st, 2023, condo association owners must provide specific information required to the Division of Florida Condominium, Timeshares and Mobile Homes, of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. This information includes:
- Number of buildings on the property 3 stories or taller.
- Total number of units in said buildings.
- The addresses of all applicable buildings.
- The counties in which the buildings are located.
Again, it is important to clarify that is the condo owner’s responsibility to provide all required information to the state.
When is My Building Due for Re-certification?
Re-certification cycles have been modified by new county ordinances and state laws. For condos and co-ops that are within 3 miles of the coastline (and again, are 3 stories or taller), must re-certify the building once it hits the 25 year mark; and then every 10 years thereafter. All other buildings (further from the coastline) must re-certify once the building becomes 30 years old. And again, every 10 years thereafter. This does apply to ALL condos and co-ops regardless of height, and all other building types.
Important: Recertification Programs used to be based on the laws that were prevalent at the time of the building’s original construction. Requirements and safety standards now no longer may be based on the year the building was originally built. Some cases will be changed by the new law being set in motion.
Breaking Down the Specifics
I know; that was a lot of information to take in! But rest assured; we’re here for further explanation! Stay tuned for our next article when we dive even deeper into Miami Dade’s New Building Recertification Program; where we’ll explain in-depth information on the 3 sets of cycles being affected by these new law changes, as well as discuss the notification process from building officials, learn about time extensions, and more!
For now, rest comforted knowing that Miami Dade is proving to be proactive in protecting their loved and valued people; and is committed to safety. This new building recertification program not only meets, but exceeds state law requirements. In the meantime, if you ARE an owner or property manager yourself; act now! Don’t wait until recertification notifications are being sent out in order to do maintenance and repair on your property. Address small fixes the moment they happen, and you can avoid small issues gradually becoming large problems. In turn, you can you be helping to save a life, and avoid re-occurring tragic events; like the two that have loudly required these changes. Like much in life, it’s through the losses, we find the most lessons. Until next time!
The information contained in this article has been based on the New Building Recertification Requirements Webinar that occurred on 10/27/22; which was conducted and presented by Deputy Building Official, Sergio T. Ascunce