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What is a 40-year certification Illumination Study?

If you are reading this blog, it’s probably because you have an interest in getting 40-year recertification completed for your property.  But then you also need to do an illumination study in addition to the 40-year inspection.  

Before I go into what an illumination study is, I must define that 40-year recertification is an inspection that an Engineer does to a property when a property is 40 years old and every 10 years thereafter.  Basically, the inspection deals with electrical and structural issues that a property may have that may be a safety issue for the property’s inhabitants. There are certain minimum items that a property must comply with including the illumination at the parking areas.

As of the writing of this blog, only properties in Dade County are required to have an illumination test 

Why do you need an illumination study?

We all know that dark areas at night can be a hazard.  There are many things that can happen in open parking lots such as car accidents, muggings, and robberies.  It is for this reason that Dade Country has required that parking lots contain a certain minimum amount of lighting.  It all comes down to a safety issue.  We all want to be safe.

Light meterWhat is an illumination study?

An illumination study is an analysis of the lighting levels at the parking areas of your property. At its most fundamental, your professional that you hire for your 40-year recertification will walk around the parking lot and measure the light levels at the different areas.  A light meter is used to measure the levels and at no time will the lighting levels be less than 1 foot-candle.  After the inspection, your professional should be able to let you know, through a written report, the areas where the lighting needs to improve.

What to do before the inspection?

There are many reasons why your lighting is at a level that is lower than those required.   But the fact remains that you should take certain steps before your professional performs the inspection. One of the main things you can do is to change the bulbs on the lighting that may have blown and are no longer working.  Another item is so cut down any branches or other vegetation that may be covering any lighting.  These 2 items are cheap, quick and easy to perform.  If the electrical current has been cut off to one of the light fixtures, it would be a great idea to get an electrician to repair it.  Once you’ve completed all the easy steps you can to bring your lighting up to snuff, then you can get your professional to do the inspection with the light meter. If you fail to take these up-front simple measures, then chances are that your inspector will do the inspection and then require you to perform the repairs and then will likely charge you for a re-inspection.

What to do to increase illumination levels in your parking area if you fail the illumination test?

You're professional that performed the inspection will be your first line of defense. They will guide you through the most feasible and economical ways to bring your parking lot to acceptable levels.  The best and most economical case is that your light fixtures can accommodate a brighter bulb and you can take care of it like that. On the other hand, the worst-case scenario is that you will need to completely re-do your lighting which will require new lamps, posts, and underground wiring.  Again, it is your profession that will guide you through the process and the possibilities.

It is important to note that this performing a lighting analysis is not as simple as it sounds. How can an engineer guarantee that by just changing the bulbs to a higher wattage will make the problem go away?  Also, how can an engineer know that by adding 20 light posts instead of only 10 posts will make the problem go away?  The answer to these questions lies in the fact that these engineers have computer programs that model the parking lot and are able to experiment with different types of lights and locations so that your entire parking lot has the correct lighting levels. Of course, this is a specialized engineering task and you will likely be charged for this service.  Again, it Is your inspection professional that will best guide you through the process.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Dade County requires that illumination studies be done in parking lots as a requirement to the 40-year recertification report.  After you make sure that the simple items are done, such as changing out non-functioning bulbs, you can call upon your professional to perform the test and ultimately rely on them to take you through the entire process as your consultant.

We here at G. Batista & Associates are engineers that have performed thousands of inspections and are ready, willing and able to help you on your 40-year recertification inspection and your illumination test.

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Are you getting ripped off on your 40-year recertification?

If you are reading this blog, there is a good chance that you are one of those people that are in need of 40-year recertification.  In a way, you are in luck because the internet is full of information about what a 40-year rectification is and how to go about getting this needed inspection. Click here if you want to know what 40-year recertification is.  I will assume that you have already done that homework and you are past the initial shock phase and on to how you will go about getting your building certified without breaking the bank.

This blog will not get into the details of how to hire a professional to perform your 40-year inspection.  There is another blog that deals with this specific issue. You can Click here to see this blog.  This blog deals more with avoiding spending more money than you have to when there are repairs that need to be performed on your building in order to pass the inspection.

Related: How much does a 40 Year Recertification cost?

For starters, you must know that the 40-year recertification is not a tool to bring your building up to the current code. It is, however, a tool to repair items that are more of a safety hazard that pertain mainly to electrical and structural issues.  If buildings were required to be brought up to current code,  then practically all of the 40-year-old buildings would require millions upon millions of dollars of work done.  One small example of a common misconception is the apparent requirement to replace a roof that is leaking.  If a roof is leaking but is in acceptable structural condition, your roof does not have to be upgraded to a roof that is up to current code.  Another common example is if your railings do not meet all of the current code requirements, but are currently in acceptable structural condition and were allowable at the time the building was originally built, you do not necessarily have to incur in the huge expense and change all of your railings.  There are many more cases of issues that are not necessarily a requirement to be repaired and/or upgraded in order for your structure to be certified.

In reality, your Building Departments that impose this 40-year inspection requirement do not expect that your building is completely brought up to current code.  So why would you want to self-impose spending more money than you would want to? The key is to make sure that the professional that you hire does not perform the inspection and produce an all-encompassing “wish list” of items that they want to get done.  There are many reasons that an engineer or architect would want a large list to be produced. Some of these reasons include the following:

1- Your professional is being conservative in their assessments.  At times, professionals tend to err on the safe side and tend to require more than what is needed.  There is actually nothing wrong with this except that if you are an owner that is strapped for money, then you may want to leave some repairs for after the building is certified.

2- Your professional is ignorant of the requirements of the 40-year inspection and/or has little experience in dealing with the detailed inspection requirements.

3- Your professional is purposely trying to obtain more work.  The reasons vary greatly on the reasons for this. It is beyond the scope of this blog to go into the details on this.

In order to avoid being required to perform repairs that can potentially be outside the scope of the 40-year recertification, you should thoroughly investigate your professionals before they are hired.  Some steps that you can use are as follow:

1- Ask your professional how many inspections have they done in the past to gauge their experience.

2-Ask your professional for references on the last 5 inspections that they have performed.  Note that I did not state 5 inspections that they have done in the last year.  Get references from those inspections that they have done within the past week or very recently.

3- Ask them in a direct fashion if they will ever require an issue to be repaired that is not necessarily a requirement in order to pass the 40-year recertification.

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

 In conclusion, it is easy to get caught in a situation where you will be asked by your professional to perform repairs that you will not necessarily need in order to pass.  The reasons are varied and most of the time has very little to do with your professional being incompetent or wanting to take advantage of you.  After all, it is our job to guard public safety.  The best you can do is do your homework and find a company that has good references and tracks record.  It is also a good idea to go to Florida’s DBPR (Department of Business and Professional Regulations) website and search for any complaints against the professional’s license.

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What is an Owners representative in construction?

Owners representative

Simly put, and Owner’s Representative is a person that represents the Owner on a construction project. This may seem like a simplistic and obvious answer, but given many players that can be involved on a project and its legal and logistical complexities, then the answer may not be as straight-forward. For example, if the Owner hires an Architect to take care of the project and oversee the construction, does the Architect really have a fiduciary duty to protect the Owner in everything related to the job? Not necessarily. This is where the Owners Representative becomes valuable. The Owners Representative actually also watches over the design team, architect, contractor, subcontractors and all other players comprising the construction team.

When Do I know when I need an Owners Representative?

Construction houseThis is a great question that is somewhat difficult to answer. Theoretcially, an Owner should hire an Owner Rep any time the Owner feels that they do not have the time nor the expertise to oversee the details and complexities of any construction project. However, Owners Representatives are not cheap and will be a significant budgetary drain on any project. But most of the time, the Owners Representatives end up paying for themselves by way of saving the Owner money on project expenses such as :

1- Aggressively questioning the contractor on additional expenditures such as Change Orders.

2- Questioning the Design Team, including the Architect, on money-saving alternatives on the project.

3- Getting into the details on the manner in which the project is being executed as far as safety and keeping an eye on the project schedule and making sure that the contractor is doing its job to stay on track to finish in a timely manner.

4- Representing the Owner during meetings when there are issues. All construction projects have issues and problems. Issues and problems usually translate to money expenditures of one sort or another. The Owners Representative protects and fights for the owner to ensure that th contractors and design professionals do not take undue advantage of the Owner.

That being said, the question really comes down to this: “Is this construction project complex enough and large enough to warrant the additional expenditure of hiring an Owners Representative?”.

The reality is that most small and medium size projects that are several hundred-thousand dollars can be handled by the Owner themselves if they have the time. If they don’t have the time, then usually, the Design Professional can fulfill that role. On the other hand, when a construction project is in the millions of dollars, the need for an Owners Representative increases significantly. The more expensive the job, the more the need for an Owners Rep. Once a project is in the tens of millions of dollars, then an Owner should definitely hire one.

What does an Owners Representative do for his money?

Lets start by explaining something about all the players on a large construction project. The Architect is a registered professional that is licensed to design a project and put plans together and to a certain extent assist the owner on some aspects of the job during construction. The Contractor is also a registered professional that is licensed to carry out the instructions on the plans and make them a reality. The relationship between a contractor and the Owner is adversarial in nature since the Contractor is typically under no obligation to protect the Owners interest.

Owners representative The Owner’s Representative, on the other hand, is not required to have a license or be registered. The Owners Representative is also not required to perform any specific duties like a licensed contractor or a design professional would in that, through their licensing, would have to comply with the Law on their basic services.

The Owners Representative main duty is to protect the Owners interests against the Contractors, Subcontractors, Design Professionals, City Inspectors, etc. Therefore it is absolutely imperative that the Owners Representative have an abundance of experience as it relates to construction, design, permitting, engineering and implementation, and must be a well-rounded individual in all aspects of the industry.

An Owners Representative can provide a whole menu of services and basically be on the jobsite each and every day protecting the Owners interests. Conversely, an Owners Representative can only provide one service such as checking the monthly invoice from the contractor and that will definitely not involve having to visit the project each and every day. Typically, Owners Rep services will be somewhere in the middle where there the Rep will show up every once in a while to the project and provide a menu of services that should be explicitly written down in the contract between the Representative and the Owner.

Why Hire G. Batista & Associates?

Because G.Batista & Associates is both a design firm and a construction firm, we are best suited to provide you with Owners Representative services because this is what we do and we know all the tricks of the trade. Most other Owner’s Representatives are former contractors that have lots of experience in construction (and have never had experience working in an actual design firm). G. Batista & Associates is your best bet for protecting Owners interests particulary at the outset of the project when the project is being conceptualized and designed. Most problems are dealt with during the beginning stages of the project. Call us today for a free consultation with the Owner and President Greg Batista, PE, CGC, LEED AP, CEM.

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Why do I have to do a 40 year inspection?

Inspector

He received the notification and now he wonders why one needs to do this 40 year inspection. You may also wonder why you have to spend your hard earned money to do this. The answer is reduced to one word. That word is "security."

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 are the steps I must follow to carry out?

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.

What should I do when I receive the notification?

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.

Do you need to hire a suitable professional? Hire G. Batista & Asociados

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.