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Building codes aren't only for builders: attention associations

Engineers, builders, contractors, subcontractors and other parties involved in the construction of a condominium project need to know the ins-and-outs of building codes. The codes may not be fun to work around, but they are there for a reason: they help reduce the risk that homeowners could face problems with defective materials or designs.

When those who have constructed the project fail to follow building codes, the condominium association can seek relief in court on behalf of the individual owners for construction defects. Do building codes apply only to new construction?

The buck doesn't stop at new construction

The answer to the question above is a resounding, "No!" Building codes are not limited to the development of a project. They exist to help protect owners and visitors to the property on an ongoing basis, which means maintenance.

Having recently witnessed the extreme power of hurricane winds and water, it is a good reminder for all association owners to ensure that they help keep the buildings that they manage from deteriorating. Yes, this means making sure that the building stays "up to code."

Included in the Florida building code are sections that require associations to maintain the building to code requirements that existed at the time it was built.

Inspections: should an association be proactive or reactive?

A unit owner reports a problem. The association fixes it. The association knows that one report could be a red flag for a bigger problem. It does what's right and investigates the issue further. Maybe it finds that a few other units need repairs.

This is an approach that helps associations ensure that the building is "up to code," but it is a reactive approach. One problem with this approach is that something has deteriorated on some level, already. There is a good chance that the building was not fully "up to code" if the problem reared its head.

Associations are not required to wait for a report of a problem to conduct an inspection. They can be proactive. In fact, in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, associations are required to conduct inspections for buildings that are of a certain age. In Broward County, 40 years is the threshold.

When was the last time your building was inspected?

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