What are 40 year inspections and recertifications and what you should know…
Did you receive a notification for a 40 year recertification and want to know what are the next steps?
You may also wonder why you have to spend your hard-earned money to do this. The answer is structural and electrical safety, reduced to one word. That word is “security.”
Throughout the years, buildings in South Florida (namely in Broward county and Miami-Dade county) undergo changes and foundational and electrical systems age. Indeed, the ravages of time take its toll and the structures weaken, yielding structural or electrical deficiencies.
Additionally, some building owners make certain alterations to buildings that are not permitted and therefore “illegal.” Naturally, as time goes by, conditions can worsen to a point where the structure becomes dangerous and even life-threatening.
What Is the 40 Year Recertification in Florida?
These 40 year structural inspections and recertifications are required by Florida law and the Building Safety Inspection Program and are enforced for property owners in order to keep buildings safe, once a building crosses a 40-year age mark.
These building inspections contain a list of certain items that must be investigated and checked, to ensure absence of structural building failures. Of course, the list will include items that can be life-threatening such as a faulty electrical system or serious structural damage as part of the required inspection.
The Florida 40 year inspection requirements do not put emphasis on items such as leaks and a bad paint job. No one has ever died because of a leak or by living in a purple-and-orange building. Here’s our post where we share everything you need to know about the 40 year recertification inspection.
Related: How much does a 40 Year Recertification cost?
What Are the Steps I Must Follow to Carry Out a Recertification Inspection?
On the surface, the inspection and the recertification process is rather simple. If you look at a blank 40 year inspection report, you’ll notice that it is basically a fill-in-the-blank form. This form also includes areas where the licensed professional or structural engineer can check off items and adds information about the property being inspected.
Although seemingly straightforward, it takes an experienced professional to perform the safety inspection as required per recertification process. That person must carefully inspect the property and properly identify the problems and necessary repairs. The inspector can also provide you with valuable feedback as to the best way to perform the repairs, once the proper inspection is completed. At the most basic, 40 year recertifications involved two types of inspections for property managers and building owners – an electrical safety inspection and a structural inspection.
Electrical Safety Inspection
On the electrical side, the inspector typically goes to the electrical room and inspects the main electrical systems components to ensure electrical safety. These components include items such as panels, main breakers, main feeders, gutters and the entry from the FP&L transformer. Obviously, a bad electrical installation can be a dangerous thing because people can get electrocuted or there can be a fire.
Structural Safety Inspection
On the structural side, as part of the 40 year structural inspections the engineer analyzes the main structural components of the property. These items include the foundations, beams, columns, slabs, and roof. Much of the inspection is visual in nature. Obviously, the inspector is looking for visible signs of stress such as cracks, spalls, and deflections in these members.
An experienced inspector can tell the difference between a serious crack and one that does not pose a structural problem. Here’s our guide on how to hire an engineer to do your 40 year recertification inspection, which provides valuable tips on hiring your inspector.
One can download a sample of a blank report by clicking HERE. However, please note that some cities like to use their own special forms. Therefore, please ask your Building Department for the correct form. Despite this, all the forms are basically the same from city-to-city.
What Should I Do When I Receive the Inspection Notice?
For starters, you must hire a licensed professional as mandated by law and required by the building safety inspection program. In short, the hiring of an inspector would basically be the same as hiring a plumber or an accountant. Naturally, you can ask around for references or use your common sense and shop around.
Your licensed professional will be the person that will not only do the inspection and issue the inspection report, but will also guide you through the steps needed to complete any required repairs and get your building certified. They’ll also share tips for preventative maintenance and how to avoid future building failure. Notably, some buildings may pose difficult challenges and others will not, during the initial recertification.
Should I Hire a Professional Engineer to Do the 40 Year Structural Inspections?
We cannot stress enough the importance of an experienced professional in your corner when it comes time to perform the safety inspection and the 40 year recertification.
Keep in mind that the single most important thing you can do at this initial time is to hire the right professional to have your property properly inspected. You should invest some time by investigating the person and the company. You should also make sure that they are properly licensed and insured in the respective city. Moreover, you should ask if the structural engineers have Errors and Omissions insurance since this is the hallmark of a serious and established engineering company.
A building safety inspection and the 40 year recertification do not have to be convoluted if you hire the right people. Additionally, the folks at the Building Departments are typically very helpful when you ask them for help. At the end of the day, we all want the same thing…buildings that are safe for our tenants, friends, residents, and the public in general.
For more information, you can visit Miami-Dade’s 40 Year Structural Inspections website and Broward County 40 Year Inspection website.