ORMOND BEACH, Fla. — In Volusia, county officials are preparing to implement and review milestone inspections for 86 buildings following a new state law.

What You Need To Know

  • Senate Bill 4-D created milestone inspections, which assess the structural integrity and safety of aging condominiums

  • The bill was created in response to the Surfside, Fla., condominium collapse in 2021

  • In Volusia County, 86 structures across 52 locations are due for inspections

  • Milestone inspections must be completed by Dec. 31

Senate Bill 4–D was created in response to the collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida in 2021. The bill established milestone inspections, which assess the structural integrity of aging condominiums. 

Milestone inspections are required for all condominiums and cooperative buildings that are at least three stories high and 30 years old. For condos that are within three miles of a coastline, inspections start once a building turns 25 years old. 

According to Volusia County officials, 86 structures across 52 locations in the county must complete inspections by the end of the year. Of those, 21 locations are New Smyrna Beach and 31 are in Ormond Beach. 

Last week, the Volusia County Council set a $250 fee for the processing and review of inspections. County officials said they will be notifying condo owners about inspection requirements.

Roger Koop, a manager and maintenance supervisor for T.J.W. Management Co., said the inspections start with a visual walkthrough.

“They look at all the components of the building to see if there’s any major issues, like structural failures, something that could cause another collapse or something like that,” he said. 

Koop has been working with condos in Volusia County for more than 30 years. 

“I started doing building maintenance and repairs, and this is the kind of thing where you can learn a lot on the job,” he said. “I just tried to work hard and make myself indispensable.”

Koop and his coworkers at T.J.W. Management maintain condos from Ponce Inlet to Ormond Beach. One of the condos they manage is the Atlantic 22 condominium on Ocean Shore Boulevard in Ormond Beach.

“There are a few owners who live here but a lot of them are rentals,” Koop said. 

The condo is five stories high and more than 30 years old — which means it’s due for a milestone inspection under the new state law. Even though the inspections are due at the end of the year, Koop said he and his team wanted to be proactive and already completed their Phase 1 inspection.

“We already knew the deadline was at the end of the year so we didn’t want to wait,” Koop said.

During an inspection, a licensed engineer or architect will examine the condo’s major structural components. If there are no signs of deterioration, condos will pass the Phase 1 inspection.

The new law also requires condo associations to complete a Structural Integrity Reserve Study. During the study, an engineer or architect will assess the remaining life left for items like roofs, foundations, floors and more. The engineer or architect will determine the cost of replacing those items and will recommend an annual reserve amount to pay for future repairs.

Before the new law, associations could waive their reserve contributions. Now, however, reserves are required to be fully funded, which Koop said may result in higher fees for owners. 

“There’s a monthly fee, $500 or $600 a month for everything,” Koop said. “We don’t know if that’s going to double or triple.”

Koop said that while structural inspections are important for safety, there are some complications with the new law that are making things difficult for condo owners and engineers. 

“They need to straighten out the bill,” he said. “There’s some glitches. Even engineers are saying, ‘How am I supposed to put a useful life on the foundation of a building? How much does it cost to replace?’ You virtually have to tear the building down to put a new foundation in.”

Koop said that while he hopes corrections will be made to the law in the future, for now, he’s working on a few other condos due for milestone inspections and continuing to do what he loves: getting hands-on with maintenance projects. 

“All the maintenance guys, they’ll come in and I’ll work side-by-side with them,” Koop said. “It’s enjoyable. That’s a good day.”

All milestone inspections across the state must be completed by Dec. 31.

In a statement to Spectrum News 13, Volusia County officials said:

“Owners and members of co-ops will be notified about the requirements by the county. We will explain why the inspection is needed and benefits of knowing about potential issues earlier is easier and less expensive than addressing severe impacts. The ownership will need to find a licensed structural engineer or architect who can conduct the Phase 1 inspection. This is looking at the exterior of the building for visible signs of structural fatigue or degradation. There are many firms available to conduct these inspections so owners need to interview as many of these professionals as they can. If the phase 1 inspections result in no issues, then the ownership can prepare for the next inspection that is required in 10 years. If there are issues, then the ownership, their engineer/architect and the county will work through a plan of action to address the insufficiencies.”

Reagan Ryan is a 2023 — 2024 Report for America Corps Member, covering the environment and climate across Central Florida for Spectrum News 13. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues.