By Alessandra Bianchini / Published March 2023
Condominium concrete restoration can be a long and noisy, but necessary, process. It is a process which starts long before the work itself commences. It is no secret to anyone living in South Florida that local and state governing bodies have recently enacted new regulations requiring recertifications for condominium associations. It goes without saying that owners and managers alike understand that this is a complicated process, with different municipalities requiring the recertifications at different times (i.e., 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, etc.). This article is not trying to tell you that the recertification process requires inspections across many different trades or the need for a written report, as these are all common knowledge by now; rather, it is stressing the importance of engaging an engineer early in the process. Many boards of directors know the work needs to be done but are unaware of the first step to take to move forward with the work.
As expected, with the new regulations in place, there has been an increase in the demand for concrete restoration work, most of which are projects looking to start as soon as possible to show compliance to the watchful eye of the building department. This increase in demand is impacting all aspects of the concrete restoration market in South Florida, including the availability of engineers. Undoubtedly, selection of an engineer is an integral part of the restoration process as not only will you need his/her state license to secure a permit for the work, but also the engineering firm provides much more than a stamp of approval for the building department. The engineering firm ensures that the contractors are all bidding the project properly, the work is being performed correctly, the work is being invoiced accurately, that the work is being performed in a timely manner, proper materials are being used, etc. The list goes on.
Given the increased demand for this work and the necessity to get the work done, managers and boards alike should be starting the process early—months before the work is expected to begin and before year 40 of the 40-year recertification. It can be a daunting process to find the right engineer for your upcoming project with many firms to choose from, and in such a situation, being neighborly could be a useful asset. Almost every condominium is within eyeshot of another condominium currently undergoing restoration work. Call the managers and board members of your neighboring buildings and ask for recommendations. Those who have been through the process recently or are currently going through the process will be able to offer great insight.
Tradeshows and community association publications are another valuable resource. The tradeshows allow you to meet members of the engineering team, collect resumes, and put a face to a name prior to selecting a firm for an interview. Tradeshows and publications alike will give you a sense of who is involved in the local community performing the work you need.
Lastly, call legal counsel. In today’s climate it would be difficult to find a condominium attorney who has not been a part of a restoration project in some way, shape, or form. Most condominium association attorneys in the South Florida area have been through a restoration project with a client or two. Use your resources.
It goes without saying, follow up with a genuine interview process and make those reference calls. With more available business, more businesses eager to perform the services needed are emerging all around South Florida, a fact of the market today which makes the board and manager’s job of finding the right engineer even more arduous. Facilitating a large restoration project from start to finish is no easy task, but if the process begins properly with the right engineering firm and with advance time to make sound decisions, a challenging process will go much more smoothly. Start properly by engaging an engineer early.
Vice President, Carousel Development & Restoration Inc.
Alessandra is the fourth generation of her family to be in the concrete repair industry, and in 2011 she joined Carousel Development & Restoration Inc. on a full-time basis after graduating with a master of law degree in environmental law. She is currently admitted to practice in the states of New York and Florida. She is the vice president of Carousel Development & Restoration Inc., and in 2015 she became a state certified general contractor. She also currently sits on the board of the South Florida Chapter of the International Concrete Repair Institute.
For more information, call 561-272-3700 or visit cdri.net.