Threshold Inspection: Everything You Need to Know
What is a Threshold Inspection
Like many modern inspections, the addition of the Threshold Inspection in Florida’s building code is in response to a previous failure of an existing structure. Specifically, the collapse of the Harbor Cay Condominium of March 1981. The details of the accident play a major role in deciding the general guidelines for modern buildings with similarities to the failed design. For a Threshold Inspection to take place, the Florida Statues dictate one of the following conditions must be met. The building in question is greater than 3 stories or exceeds 50 ft. in height. Alternatively, the building houses at least 500 persons and has an assembled occupancy that is greater than 5,000 sq. ft.
Additionally, the Harbor Cay collapse occurred during the construction process and not during the building’s active operation time. SELC states, “…a five-story flat-plate reinforced concrete building, collapsed as concrete was being placed for the roof slab. Eleven workers were killed and 23 others were injured”. As a result, this inspection is performed during the construction process to prevent similar accidents from happening. Nowadays, it also makes structures less likely to have underlying mistakes since the review process is conducted throughout phases. Therefore, mistakes are found during early stages of development.
Why would you need a Threshold Inspection
With the growth of the economy and more opportunities for employment, larger structures have become a necessity in modern society. Hence the increasing importance of this inspection. It logically follows that with an increase of large construction projects, the likelihood of potential construction accidents happening also increases. This is also due to Threshold Buildings being inherently more complex structures as they possess greater loading. Aside from the benefits provided by an additional inspection, Florida requires a building meeting existing criteria to be further inspected. Eastern Engineering Group clarifies, “It is required by the Florida Building Code that a building of this size must have threshold inspection services, including a final conformance certification by a qualified Special Inspector”.
A Threshold Inspection primarily exists to prevent the collapse of a large structure during the construction process. While most modern designs keep construction in mind and design accordingly, extra security is welcome. The Florida Board of Professional Engineers (FBPE) explains, “…a professional engineer pledges to uphold the public welfare above all other considerations…At the end of the day, a threshold building inspection not only provides oversight for the structural integrity of a building throughout the construction process, but also helps increase the quality of the entire structure, both in its parts and as a whole”. In addition to increasing safety during construction, inspections assist in the future operations of the structure by ensuring its quality. As a client who wishes to design a long-lasting structure, this process works towards that goal.
How are Threshold Inspections Performed
Preparation of the Threshold Inspection
Primarily, the inspection is performed during construction to ensure safe assembly and a long structural life cycle. To begin the process, the initial steps are to have a proposal of how many inspections are to be performed and to have preconstruction meetings. Next, the definite Threshold inspections are conducted throughout assembly, followed by a report.
Specifically, upon having an accepted proposal, the preconstruction meeting is critical for acquiring information on clients, contact information, scope of work, and suppliers. During this phase, Eastern Engineering Group explains, “During [the preconstruction meeting], you will be able to determine who the main team will be such as the general contractor, architect, EOR (Engineer on Record), the testing agency, Ready Mix Concrete supplier and any other main role”. Any details regarding the design plans and loading may also be obtained here.
Execution of the Threshold Inspection
Of course, executing the inspection is the most critical stage. In this step, the Threshold Inspector does a materials analysis where compressive strength, bolts, and reinforcement are tested. After the basic analysis is complete, more important structures like beams, columns, slabs, joists, and walls are verified. Notably, the inspector may choose to delegate some of this analysis, but they are ultimately in charge of the approval of the design. Finally, after regular check-ups, if the construction is a success and the structure is approved, a final report must be submitted.
In short, this report will summarize the conducted analysis and whether the structure was approved. In the case that it is not approved, the inspector must provide details supporting their reasoning and any solutions to solve the issues. For the approval of a structure, the Florida Building Construction Standards (BCS) clarifies, “…the private provider shall prepare a certificate of compliance…summarizing the inspections performed and including a written representation, under oath, that the stated inspections have been performed and that, to the best of the private provider’s knowledge and belief, the building construction inspected complies with the approved plans and applicable codes”. Once the report is complete, it is submitted to the building official, and the structure can begin its service.
What is the Role of a Threshold Inspector
Before a Threshold Inspector can be involved in the work environment, they must first be qualified by the state. Before accepting a job, they must ensure that the work they will be participating in falls under their qualifications. After being hired by the owner of the project and identifying their scope of work, inspectors may begin their work. A critical component to obtain is the construction plans for the inspector to begin the review process.
After receiving the plans, a building code analysis is critical prior to starting construction. If the plans are up to code, the inspector can delegate his subordinates to confirm their results. To further highlight the importance of this portion of the procedure, the inspector must then allow the local government to review the project’s plans. Any issues or missed guidelines must be reported to the project manager prior to being sent to the local government to reduce costs and save project time.
Role of the Local Government
BCS states, “The local government has 30 business days after receipt of a complete permit application reviewed by a private provider to either issue the requested permit or provide a written notice to the permit applicant identifying the specific plan features that are not in compliance, as well as the specific code chapters and sections”. When the inspector also receives approval from the local government, they may begin to split the project into phases. This keeps the process organized and makes spotting construction issues easier since it keeps the area under constant supervision.
Upon the Threshold Inspector deciding the phases of the project the physical analysis of the project begins. BCS describes, “When each phase of construction is complete, the provider must record the required inspections on a form acceptable to the building official and the record shall be posted before leaving the site after each completed inspection, indicating pass or fail at the site.” This way, the assembly process is more efficient because mistakes are caught sooner rather than later. For this reason, it is vital that the inspector, be present at the construction site to address any issues. Upon approval, a confirmation is again sent to the Florida local government.
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