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Understanding Broward County Board of Rules and Appeals Policy

Understanding Broward County Board of Rules and Appeals Policy #05-05: Ensuring Building Safety

In construction and infrastructure management, ensuring building safety and structural integrity proves crucial. To address this critical concern, Broward County in Florida has established the Board of Rules and Appeals (BORA) Policy #05-05. This policy outlines comprehensive guidelines and procedures for conducting building safety inspections, covering both structural and electrical components, historical documents, permitting, repairs, and reporting.

At the core of BORA Policy #05-05 lies a commitment to safeguarding occupants’ well-being and structures’ longevity. The policy emphasizes the importance of thorough inspections conducted by qualified professionals to assess buildings’ general structural condition and ensure compliance with applicable building codes and standards. By adhering to these guidelines, Broward County aims to mitigate potential risks associated with structural deficiencies and electrical hazards, thereby fostering safer built environments for residents and visitors.

Importance of Building Safety Inspection Programs

Building safety inspection programs play a crucial role, especially in regions like Broward County prone to environmental factors such as its marine climate, which presents unique challenges. Through systematic visual examinations and testing procedures, these programs enable professionals to detect signs of deterioration, moisture penetration, and structural weaknesses that may compromise buildings’ safety and stability over time. By identifying and addressing these issues proactively, building safety inspection programs help prevent potential disasters, protect property values, and uphold the overall quality of the built environment.

Overview of Broward County Administrative Provisions

The policy emphasizes the importance of professional judgment, delineating the scope of structural and electrical inspections. It covers essential aspects such as foundation integrity, roofing systems, masonry walls, electrical service, branch circuits, and emergency lighting. By detailing specific inspection procedures, evaluation criteria, and reporting requirements, these provisions ensure thorough assessments while allowing for flexibility to address varying structural designs and occupancy types. Additionally, the policy underscores the significance of historical documentation, permitting compliance, and the need for proper repairs to maintain structural integrity and safety standards.

Understanding “Threshold Building”

Broward County’s Building Safety Inspection framework highlights the concept of a “threshold building“. These structures include any building exceeding three stories or 50 feet in height, or with an assembly occupancy classification as defined in the Florida Building Code that exceeds 5,000 square feet in area and an occupant content of greater than 500 people.

Classification of “Minor Buildings or Structures”

While the policy comprehensively addresses larger structures, it also extends its purview to minor buildings or structures. These constructions include buildings or structures in any occupancy group having a gross area of less than 3,500 sq. ft. Structures housing support features, materials, or equipment necessary for the operation of the primary structure, or operation of any feature located upon the real property, are not considered minor. Elevated decks, docks, parking garages, and guardrails are also included in the Safety Inspection Program.

Building Safety Inspection Procedures

Broward County’s Policy #05-05 outlines comprehensive procedures for evaluating structural and electrical safety. The building owner, subject to Building Safety Inspection, must furnish a written report within ninety days of the Notice of Required Building Safety Inspection to the Building Official, prepared by a Florida Licensed Professional Engineer or Florida Registered Architect. Emphasizing professional judgment, the procedures prioritize visual examinations while allowing for targeted testing and analysis where necessary. Inspectors assess the general structural condition of buildings, focusing on elements affecting safety and load-bearing capacity, and recommend any remedial or preventive repair. 

Purpose of Building Safety Inspections

The purpose of building safety inspections under Broward County’s Policy #05-05 is to identify structural and electrical deficiencies posing an immediate threat to life safety. These inspections do not determine compliance with the current edition of the Florida Building Code or the National Electrical Code but assess the structural and electrical condition of buildings to ensure safety and support loads. 

Inspection Procedures and Guidelines

Inspection procedures and guidelines provide a systematic framework for thorough evaluations of building structures and electrical systems. These procedures emphasize visual examinations supplemented by manual techniques for closer inspection. Inspectors identify surface imperfections, signs of deterioration, and potential structural weaknesses, considering factors such as climate and environmental conditions. 

Policy #05-05

Identification of Structural and Electrical Deficiencies

Inspectors meticulously examine building components and electrical systems to detect signs of deterioration, damage, or non-compliance with codes and standards. Structural inspections include assessing foundations, roofs, masonry walls, floor and roof systems, steel and concrete framing, and wood framing. Electrical inspections encompass evaluating electric service, branch circuits, conduit raceways, emergency lighting, and conducting infrared thermography inspections for larger electrical services. 

Requirements for Inspecting Professionals

Inspecting professionals must possess the necessary qualifications and expertise to perform thorough evaluations. They demonstrate competence in recognizing signs of deterioration, damage, or non-compliance with building codes and standards. Professionals conducting structural inspections possess a profound understanding of engineering principles and construction practices, allowing them to effectively assess the integrity of various building elements. Inspectors conducting electrical inspections should be knowledgeable about electrical systems and safety standards. Professionals conducting infrared thermography inspections for larger electrical services must hold certification as Level-II or higher infrared thermographers and have extensive experience inspecting commercial building electrical systems. 

Duty of Report and Written Report

Inspectors report findings endangering life or property to the Building Official. This report should identify the inspection’s manner and type, substantial deterioration, recommended repairs, unsafe or dangerous conditions observed, and items requiring further inspection.

Mandatory Inspections and Exemptions

Mandatory inspections uphold building safety standards within Broward County, with exemptions applicable under specific circumstances. Exemptions typically pertain to minor structures or buildings with minimal risk factors or government and state buildings. Exemptions are evaluated based on factors such as building age, structural complexity, and occupancy type, without compromising safety standards. 

Buildings Over Twenty-Five or Thirty Years Old, and Condominiums and Cooperatives Near Coastline

Structures exceeding twenty-five or thirty years of age warrant special attention during the inspection process due to potential structural and electrical deficiencies that may have developed over time. Subsequent inspections are mandated every ten years thereafter. Aging infrastructure, coupled with exposure to environmental factors, heightens the risk of deterioration, posing threats to occupants and nearby properties. Inspectors must conduct thorough evaluations of these buildings, closely scrutinizing signs of wear, corrosion, and outdated electrical systems. Additionally, historical documentation and permitting records serve as invaluable resources for understanding maintenance history and identifying areas of concern. 

Condominiums and cooperatives, standing three stories or higher and situated within three miles of the coastline in Broward County, require particular scrutiny during building safety inspections due to their susceptibility to environmental stressors, such as saltwater exposure and high winds. These coastal properties face an elevated risk of structural damage and corrosion, potentially compromising their integrity over time. Inspectors must prioritize comprehensive evaluations of building exteriors, including facades, balconies, and structural elements, to identify signs of deterioration caused by saltwater intrusion and weathering. Moreover, the electrical systems in these buildings may be vulnerable to moisture-related issues, needing thorough inspections to ensure resident safety and structural longevity. 

Enforcement Measures and Consequences

Broward County’s Policy #05-05 outlines strict enforcement protocols to address non-compliance with building safety regulations. Failure to adhere to inspection requirements or address identified deficiencies may result in penalties, fines, or legal actions, underscoring the importance of timely inspections and remedial actions. If a building owner fails to submit the Building Safety Inspection Program report in a timely manner, the Building Official should choose either a Special Magistrate or Code Enforcement Board to conduct a hearing to address this failure. If an owner fails to comply with repair and/or modification requirements, the structure may be deemed unsafe and unfit for occupation. The Building Official has the authority to revoke any Building Safety Inspection and Certification if it is determined that the written inspection report contains misrepresentations of the actual conditions of the building or structure.

Importance of Compliance and Safety Measures

Ensuring compliance with safety measures outlined in Broward County’s Policy #05-05 is vital for safeguarding lives and property. Adhering to established inspection procedures and addressing identified deficiencies promptly contributes to creating safer environments. Compliance not only mitigates the risk of accidents but also enhances building resilience and public confidence in the built environment.

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Eastern Engineering Group has a long history conducting 25 year milestone inspections, 30 year recertifications, 40 year recertifications, and all types of building recertifications. We have worked closely with various clients completing inspections required by Miami-Dade County and Broward County since 2005. Once you schedule an appointment, one of our Professional Engineers will arrive at the site of inspection and carry out the procedure. We perform recertification inspections with the highest legal and ethical standards, making sure to inspect every structure thoroughly.

Eastern Engineering Group

3401 NW 82nd Ave, Suite 370
Doral, Fl 33122
P: (305) 599-8133

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