After Surfside collapse, Boca Raton could require building inspections

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BOCA RATON — Boca Raton could become the first in Palm Beach County to require older condo buildings to be inspected at the 40-year or less mark.

Broward and Miami-Dade counties require structural and electrical safety inspections for condo buildings every 40 years. Palm Beach County does not have such a law.

Boca City Councilman Andy Thomson said the item could be voted on as early as the next council meeting July 27. And he said Boca Raton might require inspections more frequently.

“Is 40 years frequent enough? Possibly not,” he said. “I’m going to lean toward it [being] more frequently, maybe more [every] 30 years. We have evidence recertification every 40 years might not be sufficient enough to ensure structure integrity of these buildings.”

The inspections are paid for by the owners, sometimes through the homeowners association.

Mayor Scott Singer the city wanted to take “swift action” and was still tabulating how many buildings would be subject to any new rules.

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“I think [residents would] appreciate knowing there is an extra level of protection and scrutiny, knowing the building is sound. If you talk to people living in condos right now, they’re concerned,” Thomson said.

The move comes after last week’s horrific collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside. On Friday, the body of a Miami firefighter’s 7-year-old daughter was pulled from the debris, increasing the official death toll to 20. As of Friday, 128 people are unaccounted for.

After the disaster, Surfside requested that property owners begin assessing their buildings 30 years and older and over three stories tall before the typical 40-year recertification.

Palm Beach County could follow with its own laws, though the specifics are undetermined.

“I have already begun a discussion with staff regarding the review of our rules and regulations and how best to address recertification of high-rise structures,” County Administrator Verdenia Baker said in an email statement. “We plan to engage all building officials within the county and appropriate stakeholders to discuss and develop a plan to address recertification of these type structures as soon as possible.”

The collapse of a three-story office building in downtown Miami in 1974 prompted Miami-Dade County to adopt the 40-year recertification requirement. Broward County followed suit in 2005.

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