More Regulation Might Be Needed To Prevent Another Condo Collapse in Florida

Tom Stevenson
Photo by Jose Garcia/Unsplash

The collapse of a condo in Surfside, Miami was a tragedy. So far 86 people have died as a result of the collapse with many more injured or missing. The question on everyone's lips in Miami and Florida now is, is this is a one-off or could it happen to me too?

Across the state, there are thousands of people living in condos. Florida's 1,350 miles of coastlines are dotted with such buildings. If one could collapse in Surfside, what are the odds one could collapse elsewhere in the state?

Such collapses are rare, so cause for concern should be low. But it's only human to be worried about such a thing following the recent tragedy. However, that doesn't mean state officials shouldn't look into what caused the tragedy and whether regulations need to be tightened to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

After all, that's what regulation is for; to keep you safe.

Shockingly though, Florida's policies may need to be tightened. Once completed, most of the counties in Florida don't require a building to be reinspected. This is an obvious oversight that needs to be remedied and one that might have caused the collapse in Surfside.

Volusia County Chair Jeff Brower was clear attitudes need to change following the tragedy:

“We inspect bridges every two years and yet a high-rise can go up right on the coast and it’s inspected at the time it’s built and never again. It’s kind of a wake-up call, and some of the pictures I have seen of our own structures are scary.”

Miami-Dade County, where the Surfside condo collapsed, requires buildings to be recertified as safe every 40 years and every 10 years after that. 40 years is a long time for a building not to be inspected, during which, any number of faults can occur.

Florida's beachside buildings aren't helped by an onslaught from the elements. They are battered by storms, saltwater and sea air, which can wear down concrete and rust rebar. Almost every part of Florida's coastline has been impacted by a Tropical Storm or Hurricane during the past 40 years. Such events can cause damage to buildings, damage which if left untreated can lead to tragedy.

Democratic state Sen. Jason Pizzo, who represents Surfside, has indicated he’ll push on with legislation to address condominium inspections when lawmakers return to Tallahassee in January.

“We’re going to be pushing for a few new provisions in FL condo law (like we have for the last three years). In the interim, condo associations must comply with existing laws and serious structural deficiencies, so our residents are not uprooted and forced to sleep in shelters.”

As the fallout from the Surfside collapse continues, don't be surprised to see new legislation tightening building codes in Florida come into force in the next few years. If they prevent another building from collapsing, this should be welcomed with open arms.

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