After the Surfside condo tragedy, engineers, contractors and local lawmakers are partnering to prevent a similar situation

Author: David Dorsey, Gulfshore Business
Published: Updated:

Florida’s population has jumped from around 3 million in 1950 to more than 22 million people today—and this number has continued to skyrocket since the pandemic. Between July 2020 and July 2021, Florida became second in the country for most residents gained, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. As demand for housing rises, so do costs, but in a state with among the most residential condominium units, the housing issue isn’t centered solely around new builds—aging buildings on the coast are just as much of a problem. 

“I’ve done a lot of retrofit work on condos on Sanibel Island throughout the years where the weather, exposure and salt have taken a toll,” says Michael Sheeley, president/partner of Fort Myers-based MK Architecture. “The imperative thing for large concrete buildings on the coast is that associations must have a regular maintenance and inspection program to consistently repair exposed concrete and steel through the life of the building, and I don’t think there’s a magic number to predict whether that building will last 20 or 50 years.” 

(Editor’s Note: This story, published in Gulfshore Business, went to press prior to the Florida Legislature passing SB 4D and Gov. Ron DeSantis signing the bill into law May 26 requiring statewide recertification of condominiums over three stories tall. Recertification will be required after 30 years, or 25 years if the building is within 3 miles of the coast, and every 10 years thereafter. Condominium associations must have sufficient reserves to pay for major repairs and conduct a study of the reserves every decade. It also requires condominium associations to provide inspection reports to owners, and if structural repairs are needed, work must begin within a year of the report.)

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