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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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Basics on Photometric Study for your 40 Year Recertification

Basics on Photometric Study for your 40 Year Recertification

The Basics

A few years ago, Cities began to require that photometric studies be done for parking lots within properties as part of the 40 year recertifications.  You will ask yourself “Why?”.  The answer is very simple. Let me begin by defining what a photometric study is.  A photometric study is a survey of the lighting levels in your parking lot.  Light intensity is measured in foot-candles.  The higher the foot-candle, the more intense the light.  As an example, a typical office has about 20 foot-candles of light.  In contrast, a parking lot has about 2 foot-candles.

Miami-Dade requires that parking lots contain a minimum of 2 foot-candles of light.  Just imagine if a parking light had less than the required lighting.  As you can probably guess, there may be more car accidents.  Additionally, the darkness may invite muggings.  People feel safe when there is more lighting.  Therefore, the County mandates that all parking areas have a minimum lighting standard.

How is the Photometric Study Done?

In general, inspectors use a light meter to walk around the parking area and measure the light levels.  The picture below shows a light meter.  A light meter contains a gauge and a read out where one can read the light levels.  With the readout, the inspector can pin-point the areas where the light levels are lower than the required amounts.

Light meter
Light Meter

Obviously, these inspections must be done at night time.  All of the lights in the parking must also be turned on because any lack of lighting will result in a low reading.  Maintenance personnel should also replace or repair existing light bulbs.  Once the parking is ready to be inspected, then you inspector will do the inspection and provide you with his feedback.

Regardless of who does the inspection, the question of the cost always becomes important. There are many aspects of a study that affect the price such as the size of the parking lot or the company that is performing the test.   Be that as it may, one should call several companies and compare prices as in anything else.

What If the Parking Fails the Photometric Test?

If the Parking fails the test, it is not the end of the world.  There are many ways that lighting levels can be adjusted so that you can comply with the requirements.  In the first place, your inspector knows your property and should be the first person to provide you with possible solutions to your particular situation.

The easiest and cheapest way to increase the light levels in the parking lot is to increase the light intensity of the bulbs by changing out the bulbs.  At times, changing the direction of the existing lights can make a difference.  However, when these things do not work, then adding lighting to the parking lot is your only choice.  In this instance, you will need to hire an experienced professional to design a lighting scheme that will comply with the requirements and at the same time, not break the bank.  New lighting installations can be expensive especially when light poles are needed and underground wiring is required to wire the poles.

Worst Case Scenario – Installing New Lighting

Lets say that your inspector tells you that you have no choice but to add new lighting to your parking lot.  Although you may be dismayed by the prospect of potentially spending a lot of money, the fact remains that this is mandated by law and simply ignoring it will make matters worse.  The County is very good at monitoring those that are not in compliance and will be fined eventually.

First, you must hire an engineering company to assess the situation and provide you with a game plan on how to remedy your light level issue. You should interview more than one company given that different professionals may provide you with different options. For example, our company G. Batista & Associates, has been doing illumination tests and designs for many years.

The professional that you hire will guide you through the complicated maze of the design process.  Additionally, they will be your consultant when you decide to hire a contractor to perform the installation of the lights and the poles.

To Finalize

Once the project is completed, then the inspector will provide the final inspection and hopefully a clean bill of health.  Your 40 year recertification is well on its way to being approved.

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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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How much does a 40 Year Recertification cost?

G. Batista and Associates Books

If you are reading this blog, then you have received your notice to perform a 40 Year Inspection.  Simply put, a 40 Year Recertification is an inspection that is required by the State of Florida when a building turns 40 years old.  Additionally, you must to inspections every 10 years thereafter.  You can find a lot of information on the web that will help you understand what a 40 year recertification is.  However, this blog is about the price of a 40 year inspection.  But in order to talk about the cost, one must realize the reason for the existence of the 40 year inspections to begin with.

Beginnings of the 40 Year Recertification

The 40 Year Recertifications were put into law primarily for the public safety.  Building owners perform upgrades and renovations to buildings without pulling permits. Also, Owners many times do not maintain their buildings properly.  As a result, many properties contain unsafe conditions for its occupants.  Examples of these unsafe conditions are as follows:

  • Faulty or exposed wiring
  • Spalling concrete
  • Hidden structural problems
  • Failed roofing systems
  • Possible fire hazards

The law requires that a licensed architect or engineer take the responsibility of the inspection and submit a signed and sealed report.

The Cost of a 40 Year Recertification

The best way to find out how much a 40 Year Recertification will cost you is by calling around and getting proposals.  Of course, a simple search on the internet will yield  lots of information on available professionals in your area.  Each engineer or architect has their own way of calculating how much they are going to charge you for an inspection. The following are the items that most affect the price of a 40 year building inspection (in order of importance):

  • Size of the building (i.e. number of units)
  • Complexity of the structure
  • Accessibility

Size of the Building

As you may have guessed, the size of the building is the factor that most affects the price of a 40 Year Recertification.  Lets take the example of an inspector that has decided he must visit 50 apartments in the case of a high-rise building.  An inspection like this could take most of the day.  Depending on the inspectors findings, the report could be lengthy.

Complexity of the Structure

As an extreme example, lets say that the inspector is to do a 40 year inspection of an electrical plant for FP&L.  On the structural side, there are many unusual structures such as towers and trusses which are difficult to inspect.  On the electrical side, there are high-power devices and mechanisms that are not typical to a regular inspection. Naturally, the inspector will have a very difficult time looking into all the details unless he has much experience with these types of structures.

On the other hand, a much simpler inspection would involve a one-story four-plex apartment building.  Typically, these buildings are constructed of concrete and block and a have a roof structure that has trusses and a shingle roof.  This simple building will also likely have 4 electrical meters and an electrical panel for each unit.

Accessibility

Although this does not tend to be an issue, accessibility can be a big problem. An example of difficult accessibility is the lack of authorization to enter the units of an apartment building.  Another example is where the inspector cannot easily see possible structural problems at the exterior of a 50 story high-rise building.  Accessibility issues can be easily overcome by coordinating with the Owner by planning ahead.

Conclusion

Although the cost of a 40 Year Recertification can vary widely from professional to professional, there are certain basic items that can affect the cost.  Either way, it is a good idea to understand what these potential issues are so you can discuss these with your engineer.  Your engineer can provide you with a proposal once he has a good understanding of your building.  Some engineers  provide a price “per door” or per apartment. Prices can range between $10 per door to $300 per door (depending on many factors).  Others provide a price based on square footage.  Still others take into consideration the location or the structure, its age, and even if it has a crawl space that he may have to squeeze into.

Be ready to provide answers to your engineer.  The better information you provide, the better proposal you will get.  Let G. Batista & Associates provide you with a proposal.