Miami Dade Building Recertification Program: Guidelines & More
Miami Dade County has updated their Building Recertification Program for building owners; triggered by the recent tragic events that occurred with the recent collapse of the Champlain Towers. To quickly recap, back in 1974 Miami Dade created a Building Recertification Program after an incident that left 7 people killed and 16 others injured. A portion of the rooftop parking area, on a building leased by the DEA collapsed, and became the catalyst for change.
In May of 1975, the Board of County Commissioners adopted and passed Ordinance No. 75-34. This amended the building code that was previously in place, to now require buildings 40 years of age to be re-certified in regard to their structural safety. This rule applies to all buildings with the exception of single family residences, duplexes, and minor structures. Furthermore, they would then be inspected at 10 year intervals.
Recent Changes Made
With the more recent collapse of the Champlagne Towers, these guidelines have been changed again with stricter requirements. This is in order to prevent these unfortunate events from happening again. These changes include a strengthened Milestone Inspection Program that reduces the inspection cycle from 40 years to 30 years. This is currently limited to condominium and cooperatives association buildings that are three-stories or taller. Additionally, there’s changes regarding condominium and cooperative laws that include no longer being able to wave reserves.
Let’s take a look at the guidelines regarding the proper timing to re-certify buildings within, and the benefits of advanced notices. We will also clarify WHO exactly is qualified to perform these inspections for recertification. Further, we’ll discuss time extensions and when they are acceptable or applicable. Finally, we’ll go over all the possible review outcomes, for after an inspection is completed. It’s quite a lot of important information to cover, so let’s begin!
3 Sets of Cycles
You may be confused as to when a building needs to be re-certified under these new program guidelines. Before changes were made, the rules and structural guidelines that applied to the building at hand, had to do with the year the building was originally built. This may no longer be the case.
The first cycle is in regard to buildings that have had recertification under the original 40 year program. Specifically, buildings built on or before 1982 that have had recertification due, under the previous program. Any initial recertification program program performed prior, does in fact remain valid. For example, if a building was successfully re-certified this year in 2022, it will not be due for recertification until 2023. These buildings will continue to use the “year built” for the recertification cycle.
Cycle 2 : Transition Years
Here is where it gets a little complicated. Transition buildings are the structures built from 1983 to 1997 for coastal regions; and from 1983 to 1992 for all other areas. In order for these buildings to not have have their recertification period skipped,these groups of building’s recertification become due by December 31, 2024. This is due to the transition from the recertification cycle changing from 40 years, to 30 years, to 25. This gives them a 2 year period to get inspected for recertification. These buildings will then be due for subsequent recertification every 10 years; so in 2034, 2044, and so on.
Cycle 3 : First Timers
The third set of buildings due to be re-certified, are those whom are scheduled to have their first recertification due to the acceleration of the new cycles set in place. In regard to upcoming year, in 2023 the following buildings are first-timers due for their initial recertification:
- Starts with buildings built in 1998 for condo/coop buildings, three-stories or taller or within 3 miles of a coastline, that are 25 years of age, and every 10 years thereafter.
- Starts with buildings built in 1993, for all other buildings that have reached 30 years of age, and will be due again every 10 years thereafter.
Advanced Notices from Building Officials
Another change included in the new building recertification program enforced by Miami Dade County, includes the early send-out and advanced notices from building officials that recertification will be due. This is extremely beneficial for the owner in providing ample time to make arrangements for necessary inspections and work and/or repairs to be done if required. Additionally, owners will have more time to hire a professional, conduct the milestone inspections, identify any needed repairs, hire a contractor for such repairs, obtain funding, and acquire repair permits.
The first notification will be sent out 2 years prior to recertification being due. A secondary reminder will be sent, one year out of the due date. Finally, a third official notification will be sent out as a final 90 day notice. These reminders are sent at the beginning of the year the building is due. Both structural and electrical reports will be required upon the due date. Payments must also accompany the reports submitted. All reports and payments can be turned in online, brought in-person, or mailed. Be mindful of your due date, if mailing in any of the required reports or payment.
Who Can Perform a Recertification Inspection?
Now that we understand when a building is due for recertification, let’s talk about who can perform these necessary inspections. The over-general answer is: it depends on the building. To clarify, any building 3-stories or less, (or 50 ft. or less in height), that is not classified as a threshold building, can be inspected by a architect or engineer with a valid engineering license. What is a threshold building? A threshold building can be considered any building 3 stories, or 50 ft. in height, or which as an assembly occupancy classification over 50,000 square-foot in area, as well occupant content that exceeds 500 people. Buildings 4-stories and higher, or other threshold buildings must be inspected by a Florida licensed structural engineer. In addition, the electrical system within the building must be inspected by an electrical engineer as well.
The new county ordinance is where one can find specific definition of the qualifications of a structural engineer. In addition, the county ordinance has added a provision regarding design professionals reporting building conditions to building officials. If there are any findings that would potentially endanger lives and/or property, they must be quickly reported to the building official within 10 days of the finding. In the case of any immediate danger or potential threats to safety, findings must be reported right away within 24 hours of discovery. Noncompliance can result in fines for not reporting such findings.
If upon inspection, repairs are in fact required, submit the reports immediately. Repair permits are required prior to commencing repairs. In other words, do NOT just start repairs immediately. Make sure the proper permits have been obtained before moving forward with any repairs. Upon the the completion of any repairs, an updated report needs to be submitted in order to complete and finalize the recertification.
So are there any circumstances that qualify for extensions? Technically, with the abundance of notice time extensions should not become necessary. But, in the case they do, there are certain acceptable guidelines. If more time is needed to submit reports or acquire repair permits, an extension of 60 days can be requested by the design professional. Buildings undergoing recertification must be under the mentioned approved extension time, if reports become past due. There are fees included for such time extensions.
If the extension of time is being requested due to needing time to complete repairs (and proper permits have been obtained), an extension of up to 180 days can be requested by the design professional that originally performed the recertification inspection. To confirm the building is safe to be occupied throughout the repair process, an affidavit needs to be provided.
Possible Building Recertification Inspection Outcomes
Once necessary inspections and reports are complete, they must be submitted via the upload portal online, along with the initial fee. The County will then review all submitted reports. There’s two potential outcomes. Either repairs are not required, and the building is given a clean bill of health, or repairs are required. If the building successfully passes inspection, and recertification is approved, the next recertification cycle begins again. The building will be due for recertification in 10 more years.
If repairs are required, a design professional needs to be hired to create plans to complete repairs. A contractor will then be hired to perform the necessary work. Once the repairs are completed, the recertification report can be amended, and resubmitted for re-review. Once approved, the recertification cycle begins in 10 years from the date of the original recertification notification.
Safety is the main priority for Miami Dade County’s strengthened building recertification program. The ordinance not only meets but exceeds state law requirements. Although the advanced notices are extremely beneficial for building owners, it always helps to be proactive. Doing regular inspections and maintenance can help in both the short and long term. The safety of a buildings inhabitants should always be at the forefront of any matter. These stricter recertification guidelines will only help ensure that, and help preserve the structural safety of the buildings we know and thrive within today.
The information sourced in this article has been based on the New Building Recertification Requirements Webinar that occurred on 10/27/22; which was conducted and presented by Deputy Building Official, Sergio T. Ascunce
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- A Guide to Miami Dade Inspections and Recertifications 08/22/2023
- Everything you need to know about Building Recertification 08/22/2023
- Enhancing Building Safety with Structural Integrity Reserve Study 07/31/2023