Milestone Inspections

Milestone Inspections

Milestone Inspections2023-10-12T17:37:46-04:00

What is a Milestone Inspection?

A milestone inspection is a type of structural safety building inspection whose primary focus is on the structural integrity of the building members, assessing whether they are safe for continued use. Following the tragic condominium collapse in 2021 in Surfside, Florida, the state has become resolute in its commitment to safer buildings, making statewide structural inspections for aging condominiums and cooperatives a necessity.

By law, licensed architects and engineers are the only professionals qualified to conduct these inspections. They evaluate the general structural condition, identify repair needs, assess deferred maintenance, and, most critically, search for substantial structural deterioration. Substantial deterioration refers to issues that could compromise the integrity of a structural component, such as significant section loss in a column or extensive cracking in critical support beams.

What Buildings Must Comply with Milestone Inspections Laws?

As of the current legislation (Florida Statute 553.899), buildings that are 30 years or older, with a Certificate of Occupancy issued before July 1992, are required to complete a milestone inspection by December 31, 2024. Additionally, regulations surrounding buildings within three miles of the coast have been updated.

It’s important to note that certain Florida jurisdictions, including Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Highland Beach, and the city of Boca Raton, had established building safety programs that required inspections at the 40-year mark and every ten years thereafter. With the introduction of the milestone inspection legislation, most of these programs shifted the initial inspection requirement to 30 years. This means that buildings in these areas will now need to undergo building safety inspections sooner than expected.

Components Evaluated in Milestone Inspections

Milestone inspections are primarily concerned with the critical structural elements of a building. This includes:

  • Foundation: Ensuring the stability of the building’s base.
  • Load-bearing walls: Assessing the integrity of walls responsible for supporting the structure’s weight.
  • Shear walls: Evaluating walls designed to withstand lateral forces, crucial for stability.
  • Roof deck: Ensuring the safety and integrity of the roof structure.
  • Balconies: Examining balconies for structural soundness.

Importantly, milestone inspections focus on structural integrity and safety, avoiding cosmetic issues like cracked stucco or paint.

Who can perform a Milestone Inspection?

By law, licensed architects and engineers are the only professionals qualified to conduct these inspections. They evaluate the general structural condition, identify repair needs, assess deferred maintenance, and, most critically, search for substantial structural deterioration. Substantial deterioration refers to issues that could compromise the integrity of a structural component, such as significant section loss in a column or extensive cracking in critical support beams.

Milestone inspections are divided into two phases:

  1. Phase One (Visual Inspection): In the first phase, a qualitative visual inspection is conducted. The licensed professional examines the building for any signs of substantial deterioration. If no such issues are found, the building passes this phase and proceeds to the next milestone. However, if substantial deterioration is suspected, the process may move on to Phase Two.
  2. Phase Two (Detailed Inspection): Phase Two is initiated when Phase One reveals potential substantial deterioration or deficiency. This stage involves a comprehensive examination to determine the extent of the issue and specify necessary repairs.

When must a Milestone Inspection be performed?

SB 154 reiterates the strict deadlines for condominium associations to complete Phase One milestone inspections. Associations have 180 days to initiate Phase One after receiving notice from local building officials. This timeline becomes especially critical for buildings reaching the 30-year mark, as they can expect a notice at any time.

The December 31, 2024, deadline looms large for many associations. It is essential to be proactive in understanding the timeline and ensuring compliance, as the consequences of failing to meet these deadlines can be severe. Failure to obtain a Milestone Inspection is a breach of the officers’ and directors’ fiduciary relationship with the unit owners. Building owners facing challenges in completing milestone inspections on time may request an extension from the local enforcement agency. This extension can be granted when an architect or engineer is under contract to perform the inspection, and completion before the deadline is not feasible.

How Milestone Inspection Legislation Will Change Over Time

The legislation surrounding milestone inspections is not set in stone and continues to evolve. There are discussions around “glitch bills” that aim to refine and clarify the requirements. These bills address issues such as the definition of “coast” and other intricacies that have sparked questions and concerns in the industry.

As this legislation changes and expands going forward, it’s essential for building owners, associations, and property managers to stay informed about the changing landscape of milestone inspections. If you have questions about how SB 154 applies to your building, we encourage you to reach out to our team at Building Mavens. As South Florida’s premiere Milestone Inspections, SIRS, and Engineering Consulting firm, we understand the legislation’s nuances and deadlines, affording us the knowledge to help provide you with the inspections and guidance necessary to help you move forward with confidence and clarity. Contact our team today and let us seize this opportunity to build a safer and more secure future together.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Florida FL Statue 553.899?2023-10-06T12:29:29-04:00

Introduced by the Florida Legislature, this statute addresses mandatory structural inspections for condominiums and cooperative Buildings. Learn more about Statue 553.899 here.

What is a Milestone Inspection in Florida?2023-10-06T12:29:55-04:00

A milestone inspection is a structural inspection of a building that includes inspecting load‐bearing walls, the primary structural members, and the primary structural systems.

What is considered structural deterioration?2023-10-06T12:30:16-04:00

Structural deterioration is substantial structural distress that negatively affects a building’s general structural condition and integrity. It does not include surface imperfections such as cracks, distortion, sagging, deflections, misalignment, signs of leakage, or peeling of finishes.

How often do Condos need to be inspected in Florida?2023-10-06T12:30:44-04:00

All condo buildings 3 stories or more in height must have a Milestone Inspection performed for each building by December 31st of the year in which the building reaches 30 years of age based on the Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A further Milestone Inspection is required for each building every 10 years thereafter.