So last week we discussed the fact that the change in the law will now require every condominium building in the state that is 3 stories or higher and at least 30 years old (25 years old if within 3 miles of the coast) to undergo a Phase One inspection, every 10 years, by a licensed architect or engineer who is looking for visual signs of structural damage to the building.
Now if I’m the guy doing the Phase One Inspection, it’s pretty likely that I’m going to find something that requires a Phase Two inspection. Why not? Is it worth the potential liability for saying the building is fine and then someone is injured or killed because of a structural defect? Of course not. So count on lots of Phase Two Inspections. Here is what that entails:
PHASE TWO – Only If found to be necessary after the Phase One Inspection
(b) A phase two of the milestone inspection must be performed if any substantial structural deterioration is identified during phase one. A phase two inspection may involve destructive or nondestructive testing at the inspector’s direction. The inspection may be as extensive or as limited as necessary to fully assess areas of structural distress in order to confirm that the building is structurally sound and safe for its intended use and to recommend a program for fully assessing and repairing distressed and damaged portions of the building. When determining testing locations, the inspector must give preference to locations that are the least disruptive and most easily repairable while still being representative of the structure. An inspector who completes a phase two milestone inspection shall prepare and submit an inspection report pursuant to subsection (8).
(8) Upon completion of a phase one or phase two milestone inspection, the architect or engineer who performed the inspection must submit a sealed copy of the inspection report with a separate summary of, at minimum, the material findings and recommendations in the inspection report to the condominium association or cooperative association, and to the building official of the local government which has jurisdiction. The inspection report must, at a minimum, meet all of the following criteria:
(a) Bear the seal and signature, or the electronic signature, of the licensed engineer or architect who performed the inspection.
(b) Indicate the manner and type of inspection forming the basis for the inspection report.
(c) Identify any substantial structural deterioration, within a reasonable professional probability based on the scope of the inspection, describe the extent of such deterioration, and identify any recommended repairs for such deterioration.
(d) State whether unsafe or dangerous conditions, as those terms are defined in the Florida Building Code, were observed.
(e) Recommend any remedial or preventive repair for any items that are damaged but are not substantial structural deterioration.
(f) Identify and describe any items requiring further inspection.
THE ASSOCIATION’S RESPONSIBILITY
(9) The association must distribute a copy of the inspector-prepared summary of the inspection report to each condominium unit owner or cooperative unit owner, regardless of the findings or recommendations in the report, by United States mail or personal delivery and by electronic transmission to unit owners who previously consented to receive notice by electronic transmission; must post a copy of the inspector-prepared summary in a conspicuous place on the condominium or cooperative property; and must publish the full report and inspector prepared summary on the association’s website, if the association is required to have a website.
(10) A local enforcement agency may prescribe timelines and penalties with respect to compliance with this section.
(11) A board of county commissioners may adopt an ordinance requiring that a condominium or cooperative association schedule or commence repairs for substantial structural deterioration within a specified timeframe after the local enforcement agency receives a phase two inspection report; however, such repairs must be commenced within 365 days after receiving such report. If an association fails to submit proof to the local enforcement agency that repairs have been scheduled or have commenced for substantial structural deterioration identified in a phase two inspection report within the required timeframe, the local enforcement agency must review and determine if the building is unsafe for human occupancy.
The bottom line is that if forced to do a Phase One inspection, you can ensure you will be required to do a Phase Two Inspection. The Phase Two Inspection will be costly and the architect or engineer performing the study has full reign over the property. What they say needs fixing, needs fixing. And what do they have to lose in stating that certain structural repairs should be made? On the other hand, they have a lot to lose if they don’t recommend a fix and catastrophe strikes. Rest assured that Phase Two Study will require repairs and they won’t come cheap.
Next week we discuss the new laws regarding Mandatory reserves.