Milestone Inspections

Milestone Inspections

Milestone Inspections2024-06-05T05:58:26-04:00

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.

Scott, Matt, and Corey review various parts of the interior of a building during an inspection.

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 Statute 553.899?2024-03-29T15:58:26-04:00

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?2024-03-29T15:29:44-04:00

A Milestone Inspection is a thorough examination of a building’s structural integrity, conducted by licensed architects or engineers in Florida. This process involves assessing the building’s load-bearing components and major structural elements as outlined in statute s. 627.706. The professionals responsible for this inspection focus on confirming the safety and longevity of the building’s structure, identifying any parts that might need maintenance, repair, or replacement. Typically, these inspections are done by a team of specialists led by an architect or engineer. The team leader ensures that all findings and reports are officially approved and documented by the team’s qualified members.

It’s important to note that the aim of this inspection isn’t to check if the building complies with the Florida Building Code or fire safety codes, but rather to evaluate its structural condition.

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.

Why are Milestone Inspections important for my building in Florida?2024-03-29T15:30:11-04:00

First and foremost, given Florida’s humid climate and severe weather conditions, these inspections play a vital role in ensuring the structural integrity and safety of your building. This is not only to prevent costly repairs in the future but also to extend the lifespan of the building. The importance of these inspections is further underscored by the fact that they are required by law.

Beyond these practical considerations, the Florida Legislature has highlighted the importance of maintaining a building’s structural integrity throughout its life as paramount. This is because structurally sound buildings are essential for the safety and welfare of the public. Recognizing this, the Legislature has found it necessary to impose a statewide structural inspection program specifically targeted at aging condominium and cooperative buildings. This program aims to ensure these buildings are safe for continued use, reflecting a broader commitment to public health, safety, and welfare. Read more in our dedicated Senate Bill 154 Milestone Inspection article.

How often should I schedule a Milestone Inspection?2024-03-29T15:30:28-04:00

If your building is subject to these codes, the building must have its first milestone inspection performed by December 31 of the year in which the building reaches 25 or 30 years of age, based on the date of the certificate of occupancy for the building was issued and local enforcement agency expectations, and every 10 years thereafter.

  • 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, must complete a milestone inspection by December 31, 2024, and have inspections every 10 years.
  • If a building reaches 30 years of age on or after July 1, 2022, and before December 31, 2024, the building’s initial milestone inspection must be performed before December 31, 2025.
  • If the date of issuance for the certificate of occupancy is not available, the date of issuance of the building’s certificate of occupancy shall be the date of occupancy evidenced in any record of the local building official.

If your building is subject to certain environmental conditions such as proximity to salt water or placement within three miles of a coastline as defined in Statute 379.101, it may be required to first receive its first milestone inspection at 25 years of age and every 10 years thereafter. Check with your local enforcement agency to confirm inspection timing for your building.

What areas of the building do Milestone Inspections cover?2024-03-26T10:51:23-04:00

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.

“Substantial structural deterioration” is the key phrase for what inspectors are looking for. It means substantial structural distress or substantial structural weakness that negatively affects a building’s general structural condition and integrity. The term does not include surface imperfections such as cracks, distortion, sagging, deflections, misalignment, signs of leakage, or peeling of finishes unless the licensed engineer or architect performing the phase one or phase two inspection determines that such surface imperfections are a sign of substantial structural deterioration. Learn more in our dedicated article about Milestone Inspection legislation in Florida.

Can Milestone Inspections identify all potential building problems?2024-03-26T10:48:44-04:00

While Milestone Inspections are thorough, they focus on structural and major system integrity. They may not catch all minor issues, but they are designed to identify significant potential problems that could impact the safety and performance of your building.

What qualifications should a Milestone Inspector have?2024-03-26T10:48:29-04:00

An architect licensed under chapter 481 or engineer licensed under chapter 471, authorized to practice in Florida. The milestone inspection services may be provided by a team of professionals with an architect or engineer acting as a registered design professional in responsible charge with all work and reports signed and sealed by the appropriate qualified team member. Experience in the Florida building industry and knowledge of local codes and standards is also essential. All engineering resources at Building Mavens are qualified Florida building inspectors.

What is the process of a structural evaluation (Milestone Inspection)?2024-03-26T10:47:43-04:00

During the first phase of a structural evaluation (Milestone Inspection) evaluation, a licensed architect or engineer will visually check both the living and non-living areas of a building, focusing on its main structural parts. They’ll provide a qualitative assessment about the building’s structural health. If they don’t find any serious structural issues, there’s no need for a second phase of inspection. The architect or engineer will then write and submit an official inspection report on their findings.

However, if substantial structural deterioration is uncovered during the first phase, a more in-depth second phase of inspection is needed. This next step may include either destructive or non-destructive testing, based on the inspector’s decision, to thoroughly evaluate any troubled areas to establish the safety level of the building and provide recommendations on how to fix any damage. The inspector will choose test areas that cause the least disruption and are easiest to fix, yet still provide a good overview of the building’s condition. If this second phase is needed, the architect or engineer must, within 180 days after the first phase report, send a progress report to the local enforcement agency outlining when they’ll finish the second phase. After completing the second phase, the inspector must prepare and submit a detailed inspection report.

I received an inspection notification. How much time do I have to complete the milestone inspection?2024-03-26T10:47:19-04:00

Phase one of the milestone inspection must be completed within 180 days after the owner or owners of the building receive the written notice. Completion of phase one of the milestone inspection means the licensed engineer or architect who performed the phase one inspection has submitted the inspection report by email, United States Postal Service, or commercial delivery service to the local enforcement agency. The entire phase one process must be done within this 180-day period.

Can I receive an extension on the due date for my milestone inspection?2024-03-26T10:47:02-04:00

Yes, if a building owner has a valid reason for not being able to finish their first Milestone Inspection on time, they can ask the local enforcement agency for more time. This is possible if the owner has already hired an architect or engineer for the inspection but can’t complete it by the original deadline due to reasonable delays or special circumstances.

What is a “phase two” building inspection and when is that necessary?2024-03-26T10:46:43-04:00

If the initial check (phase one) of a building shows substantial structural deterioration, a more detailed follow-up inspection (phase two) is needed. This second stage might include tests that either involve destructive or nondestructive testing based on what the inspector thinks is necessary. This phase may be as extensive or as limited as necessary to achieve the goal of finding any and all signs of structural distress, ensuring the building is structurally sound and safe for its intended purpose and to recommend a program for fully assessing and repairing distressed and damaged portions of the building. The inspector will give preference to test areas that cause the least disruption and are easiest to repair, while still being representative of the structure and condition. If a phase two inspection is required, the responsible architect or engineer must, within 180 days of the phase one inspection report, inform the local authorities of their progress and when they expect to finish the phase two inspection. After completing phase two inspection, the inspector must write up their final report and submit it to the local enforcement agency.