The process of a 25 and 30 year Structural Inspection and certification may sometimes be confusing. The, step-by-step process below should, at a minimum, simplify to a certain extent the rigorous rules and regulations that govern the safety certification program so that the average citizen, Board member, Property Manager, property owner or any person can understand. During these inspections, the P.E. inspects the entire visually accessible structural member, including the general foundation, exterior walls or façade, roof structure, and other elements.
When a Building age approaches the 25, 30, and 40-year mark or the city sends a notice that a 40 year or 10-year certification is required, this milestone will involve the services of an Architect or EMA Structural Forensic Engineer licensed in Florida. Specific forms need to be filled out during the inspection of the structural and electrical systems. The reason for the inspections is to identify problem areas of the Building concerning the structural and electrical systems. A certified contractor must repair any identified areas or issues after issuing a building permit. Licensed contractors are not permitted nor qualified to prepare the 40 and 10 year structural inspections and re-certification reports. Beware that in some cases, contractors who may be licensed or not may represent to the owner(s) that they are qualified to prepare such reports by making false statements and misrepresentations to induce owners to engage the contractor’s services. This may be a fraudulent or false misrepresentation.
After engaging the services of an Architect or a Professional Engineer the reports will be completed predicate on time-consuming field site inspections, data gathering, and documentation of issues found and submitted to the building owner, Association, property manage, or an authorized agent of the owner who will, in turn, submit such reports along with a permit fee to the Local Building Department Where the Building is located and has Jurisdiction Note: The Architect or Engineer does not offer the words directly to the Building Department. If the Client elects that the professional submits such reports, permission must be granted by the Client. These structural and electrical plans examiners and issuing required documents and payments as required by the Building Department.
Following the submittal of the certified reports, both the Electrical and Structural documents will be reviewed by the city staff, structural and electrical plans examiners who will review, and if there is no repair required or has no questions, approve and return a copy to the building owner. The owner is then given 90 days to repair all the defects found in the report.
The owner, Association, property managers, or an authorized agent of the owner will now solicit contractors to submit bids for repairs. Suppose significant structural or electrical defects were found that require major repairs. In that case, the building owner will need to engage the services of a Professional Engineer or Architect to provide the repair specifications and engineering drawings to be filed when applying for a permit at the Building Department. Concrete restoration and repairs may also be required as part of the overall repairs to bring the building into compliance. Once the bids are received, reviewed, and approved, the contractors will perform the repairs once they apply for a permit to complete the repairs and pay permit fees. Then, the contractor will proceed with the repairs and schedule the required inspections with the city building official. Upon completion, the city will issue a certificate of completion and a certification that the Building is now certified for another (10) ten years.
In some cases, the client will request the engineer or architect to provide the names of the other engineers or architects to perform the 40-year inspection or the terms of the contractors who will perform the repairs. In such cases, when the professional refers to the names of other professionals or contractors to perform the inspection or the repairs, the client must agree and understand that any names referrals should be checked or qualified by the client and including references. This will avoid the “Blame Game” if the referred party does not perform what was agreed upon, even delay in submitting a proposal or a bid. In some cases, clients may construe that by referring names by the professional, the professional is responsible for the conduct of the referred party and will blame the referee for mishaps. This in no way will be the fault of the professional who provided the names of other professionals. Therefore, the client will be the only party responsible for qualifying the referred party to perform the requested services, not the person who made the recommendation. In a few cases, the client even accused the professional who provided the referrals for the negligent conduct of the parties the client hired, even though the engineer did not have any control over the behavior, action, or inaction of the referred party. Some architects and engineers want to help the client by selecting other entities, but also beware of the consequences if problems occur. The client will more than likely blame the A/E firm that recommended the referred party since the client, in their mind, will conclude that if the referral was not credible, why did the A/E make the referral in the first place?; thus, there is a liability in making the referral such that it saved the client time and provided a benefit to the client but at no benefit to the referee; thus, it is consequences depending on the performance of the third party. Therefore, the client is responsible for finding contractors and other professionals to perform the 40-year certification.