Push on to change building codes for aging high-rises

Reporter: Nicole Gabe Writer: Jackie Winchester
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News

There’s a push on to change building codes for aging high-rises after the Surfside tragedy.

The partial collapse of the 40-year-old condo tower on the East Coast is raising questions for our leaders about high-rise design and what needs to happen to ensure the buildings stay safe over time.

Miami-Dade and Broward counties are the only counties in the state that require aging high-rises to go through recertification after reaching 40 years.

In Lee County, inspections are done upon completion of construction, but so far, there’s no requirement for aging buildings. It’s up to the owners, HOA, or the residents to speak up if they see something concerning.

The Surfside disaster that has so far officially claimed 16 lives raises questions about Florida’s current building codes.

“The code has requirements in the design of buildings so that it can withstand the load, the different loads, safe and economically. It has to have a design that is safe, meaning that it prevents the structure from failing and at the same time, it has to be economical,” said Ashraf Badir, Ph.D., a professor of engineering at Florida Gulf Coast University.

In Lee County, inspections are done on new buildings and renovations during and once construction is completed. Then, it’s up to the people living there.

“If you see something that can jeopardize the integrity of your structure, whether it be water in the basement or leaking from a ceiling or corrosion of steel bar, anything like that, you have to say something and you have to reach out for a professional inspection,” Badir explained.

The Miami Herald obtained photos of a leak beneath the Champlain Towers South building two days before the collapse. While we still don’t know what brought down the tower, it has many thinking about change.

“Based on what will be found from the investigation, one has to take maybe make some changes so that this is doesn’t happen again,” Badir said.

Collier County said building codes there are updated every three years. The contractor and developer for the Champlain towers have not been associated with any projects in Collier County.

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