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Why do I have to do a 40 year inspection?

Inspector

You might be asking yourself why one needs to do this 40 year inspection. Additionally, you may also ask yourself why you have to spend your hard-earned cash to do this. The answer comes down to one word. That word is “safety”.

Throughout the years, buildings in South Florida (namely in Broward and Dade counties) undergo changes. Indeed, the ravages of time take its toll and the structures weaken. Additionally, some building owners make certain alterations to buildings that are not permitted and therefore “illegal”. Naturally, as time goes by, conditions can worsen to a point where the structure becomes dangerous and even life-threatening.

These 40 year inspections are required by law and are enforced in order to keep buildings safe. These inspections contain a list of certain items that must be investigated and checked. Of course, the list will include items that can be life-threatening such as a faulty electrical system or serious structural damage. The 40 year inspection requirements do not put emphasis on items such as leaks and a bad paint job. No one has ever died because of a leak or by living in a purple-and-orange building.

Related: How much does a 40 Year Recertification cost?

What does the inspection involve?

On the surface, the inspection is rather simple. If you look at a blank 40 year report, you’ll notice that it is basically a fill-in-the-blank form. This form also includes areas where the inspector can check off items and adds information about the property being inspected.

40 year Inspection clipboard in hand at inspection

Although seemingly straightforward, it takes an experienced professional to perform the inspection. That person must carefully inspect the property and properly identify the problems. The inspector can also provide you with valuable feedback as to the best way to perform the repairs. At the most basic, a 40 year recertification involved two types of inspections – an electrical inspection and a structural inspection.

On the electrical side, the inspector typically goes to the electrical room and inspects the main electrical components. These components include items such as panels, main breakers, main feeders, gutters and the entry from the FP&L transformer. Obviously, a bad electrical installation can be a dangerous thing because people can get electrocuted or there can be a fire.

On the structural side, the inspector analyzes the main structural components of the property. These items include the foundations, beams, columns, slabs, and roof. Much of the inspection is visual in nature. Obviously, the inspector is looking for visible signs of stress such as cracks, spalls, and deflections in these members. An experienced inspector can tell the difference between a serious crack and one that does not pose a structural problem. We have added a blog page that provides tips on hiring your inspector.

One can download a sample of a blank report by clicking HERE. However, please note that some cities like to use their own special forms. Therefore, please ask your Building Department for the correct form. Despite this, all the forms are basically the same from city-to-city.

I know I need the 40 year recertification. What do I do now?

For starters, you must hire a licensed professional as mandated by law. In short, the hiring of an inspector would basically be the same as hiring a plumber or an accountant. Naturally, you can ask around for references or use your common sense and shop around.

Your licensed professional will be the person that will not only do the inspection but will also guide you through the steps needed to get your building certified. Notably, some buildings will pose difficult challenges and others will not. We cannot stress enough the importance of an experienced professional in your corner when it comes time to perform the 40 year recertification.

Keep in mind that the single most important thing you can do at this initial time is to hire the right professional. You should invest some time by investigating the person and the company. You should also make sure that they are properly licensed and insured. Moreover, you should ask if they have Errors and Omissions insurance since this is the hallmark of a serious and established engineering company.

A 40 year recertification does not have to be convoluted if you hire the right people. Additionally, the folks at the Building Departments are typically very helpful when you ask them for help. At the end of the day, we all want the same thing…buildings that are safe for our tenants, friends, residents and the public in general.

For more information, you can visit Miami-Dade's 40 Year Inspection website and  Broward County 40 Year Inspection website.

Looking to hire the right professional? Hire G. Batista & Associates

If you are looking at other companies that provide this important inspection service, ask them

Do they provide the Structural AND Electrical inspection and expertise IN-HOUSE?…. We DO!- This keeps our costs low since we don't have to subcontract these services to others.

Do they provide a list of repairs (if needed) included in the same price?…. We Do!

Do they provide IN-HOUSE structural and electrical professionals that can provide recommendations for repairs (if needed)?… We Do!

Have they been performing these inspections for more than a decade?… We Have!

Do they have a long list of Satisfied Customers which can be called as a referral?… We Do!

Do they have full-time certified inspectors and full-time Professional Engineers on Staff?… We Do!

 

INSPECTION PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS:

IHINA - Independent Home Inspectors of North America
FABI - Florida Association of Building Inspectors
NACHI - National Association of Certified Home Inspectors
ASHI - American Society of Home Inspectors

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Guide on How to Hire An Engineer to do your 40 year Recertification

How to Hire An Engineer to do your 40 year Recertification

The Beginning

You have received your notice in the mail and are asking yourself “what is a 40 Year Recertification?”.  Before you proceed to read this blog, make sure you know what a 40 Year Recertification is first.  Once you know the answer, you can then proceed with the next step.  Obviously, you must find a qualified professional to do this work. This blog will provide you with some guidance.

Finding a Professional

First of all, only qualified people can do 40 Year inspections.  Florida law says that it either a licensed engineer or architect can do the inspection. Obviously, there are many engineers out there than can do the inspection

G. Batista and Associates Books
Hard Hats and Books

and it is up to you to do some homework to find one.  A good place to begin your search is the internet. Although you can use the yellow pages or referrals, Google is the best place to begin the search.  Once on the Google page, you can type in “40 year recertification engineer Broward“. You can change the key words to include the place you live.  You should get several places that market this type of service.

Checking up on the Engineer

Now you are ready to put your investigator hat on.  The first place to check is the (DBPR) Department of Business and Professional Regulations  website.  You can click here to access the site where you can input the name of the inspector and/or the name of the licensed owner of the business.  This will let you know a little bit about the person and if there have been any complaints files against them or even if their license if active.  With this information, now you are ready to make the phone call and ask some smart questions.

Questions to ask the Engineer

Now you need to ask some questions and hopefully get some good answers.  You may want to have a paper and pen ready to jot down the answers so that after you speak to each, you can compare the answers.  Some of the questions may be as follows:

  • Do you carry Errors and Omissions insurance?  Needless to say, the more established and serious firms carry insurance to protect you and protect themselves. This is a good thing to have.
  • Do you have a written proposal that you can send me once I give you the information on my building?  Written proposals are very important.
  • How much do you charge for the inspection?  Do you include a second or third visit after you perform the initial inspection?  Read our blog on how much an inspection costs.
  • What are the payment terms? Can I pay you once the inspection is finished?
  • What is the time frame to do the inspection?

Signing the Contract

Finally, you have found your engineer and are ready to sign the contract.  At times it is important to have your attorney check the contract, especially

Signing the Contractif this is a large and expensive inspection.  The language in the contract should be plain and simple.  As such, you should be able to carefully read it and ask the engineer any questions you may have.  This inspection may be technical, but the contract language does not have to be.  You have every right to ask questions and get good honest answers.

Many contracts require payments up front.  It is normal to pay a portion up front, but try not to pay the whole amount until the inspection is performed.  Finally, you should monitor the progress  of the inspection. Engineers are licensed professionals and are held to a high ethical standard and as such you should not have problems.

Go to our main home page for G. Batista & Associates.

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What is Concrete Spalling?

Choosing the Engineer

Introduction

Florida is a great place to live.  First, you have the beautiful beaches. Second, you have great weather throughout the year.   Third, you have great architecture that includes art-deco to modern styles.  However, these positive traits come with their fair share of problems.  The high concentration of “salt air” can seep into the  concrete over time.

This is a sample of concrete spallingEventually, the salt air damages the steel inside the concrete and causes it to rust.  Ultimately, this rust causes the concrete to spall.   There are some complex chemical reactions that take place  for a spall to occur, but we will try to keep it simple for those non-engineering types.  As an introduction, the picture shown here is an actual spall.  The classical spalled concrete will show the reinforcing steel (or “rebar“) once the concrete comes loose.

Passivation Layer

Lets start at the very beginning.  When the original builder installs the rebar inside the concrete, it is typically in a pristine condition.  That rebar has a protective layer that is called the “passivation layer”.  Coastal areas have high concentration of salts (chlorides) that penetrate the concrete through microscopic hole in the concrete.  Next, these salts come into contact with the steel and damages the protective “passivation layer” on the rebar.  When this protective layer is gone, the rusting process will begin and will continue over time.  At this point there is very little one can do to stop the rusting.

Concrete Spall defined

Now that there is an expanding piece of steel inside the concrete, it will only be a matter of time until the concrete breaks.  This rupture causes both small and large pieces of concrete to become dislodged.  Those detached pieces of concrete is the spall itself.  Needless to say, concrete spalls are potentially dangerous and even life-threatening.   On high-rise buildings they can damage properties below or even make contact with a person.  Spalling concrete should be repaired as soon as possible since it will spread and get worse.  Eventually, the rusting rebar will render the structure unsafe.

There have been many instances where structural collapses have occurred and people have been severely hurt as a result. Spalling concrete is a sign that your structure is under attack and this sign should not be ignored. Many people kick the can down the road and leave the repairs for a future date.  The old adage of “a stitch in time saves nine” is most certainly true.  A concrete repair that costs $1,000 today, will cost $10,000 a few years from now.

I like to think of spalling as a type of cancer.  In the same way that a cancer can grow until you die, the same is true of a spall.  The exception is that there is no “chemo-therapy” that will cure the spall.  The truth is that the only way to take care of the spall is to remove it using special techniques.  These methods that are employed by contractors to fix spalling concrete is varied and a little complex.  The ICRI (or International Concrete Repair Institute) has very specific guidelines on how concrete spalls are to be repaired.

Structural Engineering 101

Pantheon Dome
This is the pantheon dome

Concrete has been used for thousands of years in various forms. The Romans built magnificent concrete structures that survive to this day, such as the Pantheon, with its impressive concrete dome. The Pantheon (see picture), however does not have any reinforcing steel in it because of its design. The dome’s concrete was always compressed under its own weight. Concrete by itself, without any steel rebar inside of it, can withstand a tremendous amount of this compressive force. On the other hand, concrete cannot withstand a large amount of tensile force, which is the force that wants to pull it apart. Because domes are hardly built these days, the structures that we build today are subjected to both tensile and compressive forces.  Around the turn of the century engineers noticed that if you include reinforcing steel inside the concrete,  it could  withstand  a  tremendous  amount of  tensile  forces in  addition  to compressive forces. This meant that one could now design and build all sorts of structures without being hindered by concrete’s structural limitations. This is how the era of building modern concrete structures began.  As such, without including steel inside your concrete to support the structure, you would not have a soundly-built building.  The reinforcing steel (rebar) inside the concrete literally keeps your entire structure from crumbling to the ground.

Conclusion

To conclude, concrete spalls are a fact of life in Florida where there is a lot of “Salt air” in the atmosphere.  In reality, there is very little one can do to avoid any spalling to happen in a structure.  However, if one follows a typical building maintenance routine, the chances that spalling can be found and identified increases.  Buildings that are painted frequently and are maintained suffer the least from this malady.

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What’s New?

After more than 10 years at its previous location, GB&A has moved to its offices to Town of Davie, Florida. The main reason for the move is so that it will allow us to attain a Federal HUB Zone certification. This certification will allow us to have an edge in obtaining federal contracts.  Our new offices are approximately 3,500 square feet and includes an area to house our construction equipment.