What Is a Milestone Inspection?
It is a structural inspection of the building’s structural integrity and includes inspection of the load-bearing walls and other structural elements designed to provide support and stability for the overall structure.
In June 2021, a tower in Surfside, FL collapsed, killing nearly 100 residents. In May 2022, the Florida government reacted by enacting mandatory structural inspections for aging condominiums (FL Statute section 553.899), called “Milestone Inspections”, intended to increase building safety.
What Is the Purpose of a Milestone Inspection?
The purpose of the milestone inspection is to determine if evidence of substantial structural deterioration (meaning structural distress that negatively affects a building’s general structural condition and integrity) can be identified.
Surface imperfections such as cracks, distortion, sagging, deflections, misalignment, signs of leakage, or peeling of finishes need not to be documented as part of the milestone inspection, unless they are considered a sign of substantial structural deterioration.
The purpose of the milestone inspection IS NOT to determine compliance with the Florida Building Code or the fire safety code.
Who Needs a Milestone Inspection?
All condominiums and cooperative association buildings in the state of Florida that are three (3) or more stories in height, when the building reaches certain age, based on the issued certificate of occupancy, as follows:
30 years of age and every 10 years thereafter, or
25 years of age and every 10 years thereafter if the building is located within three (3) miles of a coastline.
If a milestone inspection is required and the building’s certificate of occupancy was issued on or before July 1, 1992, the building’s initial milestone inspection shall be performed before December 31, 2024.
How Is a Milestone Inspection Conducted in Florida?
A milestone inspection can only be conducted by a licensed architect or engineer authorized to practice in the state of Florida, qualified to attest to the general structural condition of the building and any necessary maintenance, repair, or replacement of any structural component.
The licensed architect or engineer conducts the milestone inspection in phases.
All inspections require a phase 1. However, not all inspections require a phase 2.
Consists of a visual examination of the major structural components to determine is evidence of substantial structural deterioration is present. Upon completion of the inspection, a report is submitted to the building department. If no signs of substantial structural deterioration are found, phase 2 of the inspection is not required.
Performed if any substantial structural deterioration is identified during phase 1. A phase 2 inspection may involve destructive testing to confirm that the building is structurally sound and safe and recommend a program for assessing and repairing distressed and damaged portions of the building.
When looking for a professional consultant to perform a Florida Milestone Inspection, always confirm the professional consultant meets both the statewide and the local ordinance licensing requirements to be able to perform the inspection. For example, to be qualified to perform a Florida Milestone Inspection, the inspector must be a licensed engineer or architect. However, local jurisdictions such as Miami-Dade County also require additional structural qualifications, such as the Structural I or Structural II Special Qualifications. Additionally, if phase II is required and structural repairs will be performed to a threshold building, the inspector must also hold the Special Inspector designation to be able to inspect the repairs, anywhere in Florida. The structural qualifications and Special Inspector designation are important credentials for engineers performing Special Inspections in Florida.
What Is Included in the Milestone Inspection Report(s)?
The milestone inspection report contains the documentation of supporting evidence of identified substantial structural deterioration, and application recommendations for repairs. A detailed list is provided below:
A list of the material findings and recommendations
A description of the manner the inspection was performed
Identification of all substantial structural deterioration and repair recommendations
Determination of whether unsafe or dangerous conditions were identified
Recommendation for remedial or preventive repair of non-substantial structural deterioration damage
Identification of items requiring further inspection
A separate summary of findings must be prepared.
All reports must by signed and sealed by the licensed engineer who performed the inspection.
What Happens After a Milestone Inspection Is Completed?
The report and summary are provided to the Association to share with the owners and residents:
The association receives as copy of the milestone inspection report(s).
The association must distribute a copy of the inspector-prepared summary of the inspection report to each condominium unit owner or cooperative unit owner.
The association must post a copy of the inspector-prepared summary in a conspicuous place
The association must publish the full report and inspector-prepared summary on the association’s website, if the association is required to have a website.
Finally, ALWAYS check the applicable local ordinances, since they may have adopted more stringent requirements as part of their building safety program. These requirements can include electrical evaluations with thermography inspections and building egress and parking lot illumination, and a certification of parking lot guardrails. Broward County and Miami-Dade County are clear examples.