What You Need to Know about the New Milestone Inspection 

What You Need to Know about the New Milestone Inspection

FL Statute Section 553.899

By Mariann Gerwig / Published February 2023

Photo by iStockphoto.com/Akacin Phonsawat

It has taken time for the professionals involved in structural restoration and repairs to fully digest the Florida statute enacted in May 2022. I have been working on finding an easy way to help managers, board members, and unit owners understand what it means and how it affects them.

     We have worked with Gustavo A. Alvarez, principal engineer at AB Plus Engineering & Restoration LLC, on several of our restoration projects. Mr. Alvarez created a comprehensive, informative report that explains the milestone inspections in a manner that is easy to understand. Mr. Alvarez has graciously allowed me to share this report with Florida Community Association Journal’s readers.

Milestone Inspections For Florida Condominium History

     In June 2021 a residential condominium building in Surfside, FL, collapsed, causing the death of 98 people. In May 2022 the Florida government reacted by enacting mandatory structural inspections for aging condominiums (FL Statute Section 553.899), called a “milestone inspection,” intended to increase building safety.

What is a milestone inspection?

     It is an inspection of the building’s structural integrity and includes inspection of the load-bearing walls and other structural elements designed to provide support and stability for the overall structure.

Who needs a milestone inspection?

     All condominiums and cooperative buildings in the state of Florida that are three or more stories in height, when the building reaches a certain age, based on the issued certificate of occupancy, are required to have milestone inspections as follows:

  • 30 years of age and every 10 years thereafter, or
  • 25 years of age and every 10 years thereafter if the building is located within three miles of a coastline.

     If a milestone inspection is required and the building’s certificate of occupancy was issued on or before July 1, 1992, the building’s initial milestone inspection shall be performed before December 31, 2024.

What is the purpose of the milestone inspection?

     The purpose of the milestone inspection is to determine if evidence of substantial structural deterioration (meaning structural distress that negatively affects a building’s general structural condition and integrity) can be identified. Surface imperfections such as cracks, distortion, sagging, deflections, misalignment, signs of leakage, or peeling of finishes do not need to be documented as part of the milestone inspection unless they are considered a sign of substantial structural deterioration. The purpose of the milestone inspection IS NOT to determine compliance with the Florida Building Code or the fire safety code.

Who can perform a milestone inspection in Florida?

     An inspection can be performed by a licensed architect or engineer authorized to practice in the state of Florida who is qualified to attest to the general structural condition of the building and any necessary maintenance, repair, or replacement of any structural component.

How is a milestone inspection to be performed?

     The licensed architect or engineer conducts the milestone inspection in the following phases:

  • Phase 1—Consists of a visual examination of the major structural components to determine if evidence of substantial structural deterioration is present. Upon completion of the inspection, a report is submitted to the building department. If no signs of substantial structural deterioration are found, phase 2 of the inspection is not required.
  • Phase 2—Performed if any substantial structural deterioration is identified during phase 1. A phase 2 inspection may involve destructive testing to confirm if the building is structurally sound and safe and to recommend a program for assessing and repairing distressed and damaged portions of the building.

What is included in the milestone inspection report(s)?

  • A list of the material findings and recommendations
  • A description of the manner the inspection was performed
  • An identification of all substantial structural deterioration and repair recommendations
  • A determination of whether unsafe or dangerous conditions were identified
  • A recommendation for remedial or preventive repair of non-substantial structural deterioration damage
  • An identification of items requiring further inspection
  • A separate summary of findings (see below)
  • Signature and seal on all reports by the licensed engineer who performed the inspection

What happens after the milestone inspection is completed?

  • The association receives a copy of the milestone inspection report(s).
  • The association must distribute a copy of the inspector-prepared summary of the inspection report to each condominium unit owner or cooperative unit owner.
  • The association must post a copy of the inspector-prepared summary in a conspicuous place.
  • The association must publish the full report and inspector-prepared summary on the association’s website if the association is required to have a website.

     Champlain Towers in Surfside, Florida, was a tragedy that is very hard to comprehend. It is commendable that the State of Florida enacted a statute so quickly to address the issues that were discovered from this collapse. How-ever, it is very likely that we will see additional statutes, similar to this one, in the near future, in order to require that buildings like this one are safely maintained for the residents.

     Information provided by Gustavo A. Alvarez, principal engineer at AB Plus Engineering & Restoration LLC located at 1855 Indian Road, Unit 203, West Palm Beach, FL 33409. For more information, call 561-418-7704, email  info@abpluseng.com, or visit www.abpluseng.com.

Mariann Gerwig, CFO, Primary Qualifier, CGC, HI, CFCAM

Promar Building Services LLC

     Mariann Gerwig, CFO, Primary Qualifier, CGC, HI, CFCAM is with Promar Building Services LLC CGC 060027. You can contact her at Mgerwig@PromarBuilding.com or learn more about the company by visiting www.PromarBuilding.com.