If you own any South Florida real estate, there’s something important that you need to know about commercial properties: the 40-year recertification requirement.

In Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, all buildings which are 40 years old from the date of the original Certification of Occupancy must be recertified by the Building Official every 10 years to ensure they are safe. Following the Surfside condo collapse in June of 2021 in which 98 people died when a 12-story building crumbled, changes were made to the inspection process and recertification requirements for 2022 and beyond.

Here’s what recertification is, how it works, what the newest requirements entail, and why it’s so important for commercial property owners to get it right.

Level II Thermographer Certification Is Now Required As Part of 40 Year Recertification

In response to the Surfside collapse, an electrical inspection element was added to the 40 Year recertification inspection called Infrared Thermography Inspection. Buildings operating an electrical system greater than 400 amps now require additional thermal inspections by a certified Level II Thermographer, which is a certificate BIS has obtained.

A Level II Thermographer uses special tools to identify any thermal anomalies in the electrical system that could not be detected otherwise. Thermal anomalies include temperatures that are outside the norm or have increased and decreased significantly in a short amount of time. In the case of a 40 year recertification inspection, a Level II Thermographer is looking for alarmingly high temperatures that could signal a weakened structure.

If a building’s foundation is heating up quickly, it can lead to erosion, especially in Miami-Dade and Broward counties with proximity to the ocean, as salt water causes concrete further corrosion to concrete.

Another key change in the Florida building code recertification is setting the inspection date to buildings that are 30 years old, rather than 40, and every 10 years after that. Any buildings 40 years or older should continue on their established inspection schedule. Buildings located closer to the coastline may have shorter or different inspection timelines as well. Any building greater than three stories high and within three miles of the coastline must have a recertification inspection 25 years after being built and every 10 years following.

Other changes include receiving a notice of required recertification up to two years prior to the date, further investigation of a building’s foundation, and more. More advanced notice of a pending recertification requirement is key as few inspection companies have a Level II Thermographer on staff, so it’s important to schedule your inspection as quickly as you can.

The goal of these additions to the recertification inspection is to find and correct unsafe structures long before another tragic event, and to enhance these efforts, the recertification inspection requirements will likely see additional changes in the future.

 

How Does a 40 Year Recertification Inspection Work?

A 40-year recertification requires buildings in Miami-Dade County and Broward County to be inspected to make sure they are structurally and electrically safe for continued use and occupancy.

The safety inspection must meet a set of specific requirements and be performed by a professional engineering company or architectural firm. If your building was built before 1982, once your building has had its 40-year recertification, you must get it recertified again every 10 years.

Large and ornate building like condos and office buildings all require a 40 year recertification inspection.

The city or county building authority will tell you if you need recertification through a Notice of Required Inspection. Once you receive the notice, you have 90 days upon receipt of the notice to comply. However, you are responsible for getting an inspection even if you don’t receive a notice.

There are only a few exceptions to recertification requirements: single-family homes, duplexes, and buildings with an occupancy load of 10 or fewer and a gross area of 2,000 square feet or less in Miami-Dade County and a gross area of 3,500 square feet or less in Broward County.

What Do Inspections Include?

Recertification is actually an extensive process involving different types of inspections:

  1. Structural inspection (including but not limited to evaluation of roof structural members, load-bearing walls, floor structural members, and foundations)
  2. Electrical inspection (including but not limited to evaluation of electrical service, branch circuits, and conduit/raceways)
  3. Roofing (including but not limited to evaluation of roof slope, roof drainage, roof water tightness, and roof-mounted equipment supports)
  4. Fire Life Safety (including but not limited to evaluation of emergency lighting, exit signs, smoke detectors, and fire alarm systems)
  5. Windows (including but not limited to evaluation of window functionality, sealing, and other conditions which may be conducive to moisture intrusion into the structure)

For the structural components, the inspector reviews the main structural elements that make the property sound, from the foundations and beams to the roof and columns. They’re looking for any signs of compromised structural integrity, such as cracks and signs of settlement. A good inspector knows the difference between a superficial crack and a more concerning one.

For the electrical components, the inspector goes to the electrical room to examine breakers, feeders, panels, gutters, the transformer, and more. As previously stated, buildings operating an electrical system greater than 400 amps now require additional thermal inspections by a certified Level II thermographer. BIS is on the the few companies with this certification.

If the inspector finds any areas that do not meet recertification requirements, you’re given 60 days to hire a contractor and complete the necessary improvements to the property.

Palm trees adorn condo buildings in Miami.

Why Is My 40-Year Recertification So Important?

As little as two days before the Champlain Towers South June 24, 2021 collapse, a pool contractor noticed water intrusion throughout the parking garage that had apparently originated from the condo’s pool.

The collapse further highlighted why 40-year building recertifications are so important and how they could be improved upon and used to prevent further tragedies. In the last year, the aftermath of Surfside has heavily influenced updated regulations for commercial building inspections and recertifications.

Built in 1981, Champlain Towers South isn’t exactly a historic building. At approximately 40 years old, you might even be tempted to think of the building recertification process as a mere formality, but building safety is something that should never be taken lightly, and governmental officials have clearly decided to err on the side of caution regarding 40 year recertification inspections.

Building inspections aren’t just a way to make money. They’re a tool building owners can use to make well-informed decisions regarding the safety and security of their investments.

And as we’ve seen, these decisions can save lives.

Need Your 40-Year Recertification Inspection?

If your commercial property needs its 40-year recertification inspection or you are purchasing or just want to know the condition, you’ve come to the right place.

The quality of your inspection is only as good as the company you choose. At BIS, we’re licensed general contractors, engineers, and building inspectors. In short, we’re commercial property experts.

We’ve worked with buyers, lawyers, developers, lenders, brokers, and more. We have performed inspections from Florida to California, from Texas to Wisconsin, and even outside the country on commercial buildings. No property is too large, too small, or too far away.

If you need an inspection, we’ll make sure you get it done right.

Don’t wait. Click here to request your inspection today.