40-Year Building Recertifications

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On the “Everything Building Envelope” podcast, host Paul Beers and his guest James LaGreca discussed everything you need to know about that looming 40-year building recertification date, demystifying the process with some solid information and good advice.

James LaGreca is Director of Operations for DSS Condo, a subdivision of Development Services Solutions, a leading construction management firm in Florida. James has a Master of Architecture degree and also teaches Structural Systems at Florida International University.

DSS Condo serves condominium associations, navigating them through the complexities of large-scale construction projects and devising cost-effective and efficient solutions for bringing plans to completion.

Recertification in Florida

The Florida Building Code requires every 40-year-old building — with a few exceptions — to undergo a structural and electrical inspection by a licensed architect or engineer, hired by the building owner, in order to be recertified by the building department. Once the 40-year recertification is achieved, the building must then be recertified every 10 years.

Following the inspection, a written report is submitted to the building department for review and approval. When deficiencies are identified, the architect or engineer makes recommendations for the scope of repairs. A construction management team can be an invaluable part of the process for the owner, ensuring that repairs are carried out properly and without unnecessary expense.

Once the repairs have been made, another inspection is conducted, and approval is issued by the building department, as long as the work has been satisfactorily completed.

Structural and electrical inspections are comprehensive, and it is rarely, if ever, the case that no repairs are needed for a 40-year recertification. But, in some cases, the damage will be severe, triggering a full-scale remediation effort.

Outside In

Inspections often find issues with the building envelope, ranging from minor to more expensive repairs. Stucco delamination is an example of a minor repair, but eventually it can compromise the integrity of the building envelope and lead to serious deficiencies.

Deteriorating balcony structures are fairly common and typically caused by corroding steel reinforcement and concrete breaking off, leading to unsafe conditions. Similarly, elevated decks for parking, full decks or plaza decks are also subject to deterioration, requiring extensive repairs to the structural components and followed by installation of waterproofing systems. In addition to the expense, these are some of the most invasive and disruptive types of remediation projects — people can’t use the structures until they’re repaired.

Remediation projects for recertification often result in a building that looks brand new — resealed, repainted and ready for a maintenance program.

Getting Ahead of Recertification

How can newer buildings avoid extensive repair bills for the 40-year recertification? James LaGreca had a few tips about preventive maintenance to keep surprises to a minimum when it’s time for the 40-year inspection.

Maintaining the building envelope all year round is critical; neglecting routine tasks such as painting or periodic facade inspections can result in a major — even unaffordable — remediation down the line. Another preventive strategy is to have a reserve study prepared to identify building components that will need to be addressed in the near future, allowing the owner time to set aside funds.

James LaGreca points out that it takes time to select an engineer for the 40-year inspection and recommends starting a year ahead of the milestone 40-year date to ensure they’ll be on hand for the work.

You can hear the entire discussion between Paul Beers and James LaGreca at the “Everything Building Envelope” website. Take a moment to subscribe while you’re there so that you don’t miss any of Paul’s informative discussions with industry professionals.