In Brevard, once a high-rise is occupied no structural inspections required

Table of Contents Changing the rulesIssues at Versailles Sur La MerCrackdown at International Palms‘You’ve got to do it right’ If stories like this are important to you, please consider subscribing to FLORIDA TODAY. To subscribe: https://cm.floridatoday.com/specialoffer/ Jim Emory says his Cocoa Beach-based company typically averages five or six calls a […]

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Jim Emory says his Cocoa Beach-based company typically averages five or six calls a month from representatives of condo complexes and similar buildings, asking about the comprehensive structural inspections the company performs.

This past week, in the wake of the collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Emory said the pace changed to five or six calls a day from both current clients and potential new ones.

“Everyone wants assurances that they’re not in an unsafe position,” Emory said.

Space Coast condominium associations depend on companies like the one Emory owns — Keystone Engineering and Consulting — to find structural issues that need repairs. That’s because there are no local requirements for such inspections.

“There’s no such thing as a city structural inspection,” said Cocoa Beach Mayor Ben Malik, who represents a city with a number of high-rise condos. “We don’t have the resources or the capacity to do that,” with Cocoa Beach employing one building inspector — who is not an engineer.

Keystone Engineering and Consulting found safety issues from corrosion and concrete spalling at this condo in south Cocoa Beach. NAC Seaside was brought in to demolish the walkways and replace them.

Similarly, the Brevard County Building Department does not conduct routine follow-up inspections after a certificate of occupancy is issued, according to the county’s communications director, Don Walker.

However, unsafe structure and other life/safety issues are investigated when reported to the county’s code enforcement staff, Walker said.

More:Condo collapse mystery: Why did the building fall in Surfside? Investigation could take years

“We do multiple inspections during construction, but once a certificate of occupancy has been received, we cease inspections unless someone calls us with concerns,” Walker said. “In that case, we will go out to inspect.”

Restoration is going on at Versailles Sur La Mer Condo Complex on State Road A1A in unincorporated Brevard County, south of Melbourne Beach.

Walker said Brevard County officials have begun meeting to discuss what steps, if any, the county might take to increase the oversight of building inspections.

Emory said he is aware that county and municipal building inspectors have been doing proactive visual inspections of buildings in Brevard during the past week to see if they spot any obvious signs of trouble.

Walker said county officials are looking for ways to help assure that what happened in Surfside would not happen in Brevard County. For example, Walker said the county will research whether fire inspectors — who do fire inspections of properties every year — might be able to get specialized training, so they can be better able to spot potential structural safety issues during their fire safety inspections.

Anette Rentie

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