With two-thirds of Miami condos thirty years or older, it’s time for the city to put a focus on remodeling. The disastrous collapse of the Champlain Towers South building has put a spotlight on the city’s construction. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Engineers say it can take just 30 years for condominium buildings to reach a point when owners can no longer delay making critical repairs.
In the Miami region, two out of every three condo buildings are more than 30 years old, according to data compiled by real-estate data firm Zillow for The Wall Street Journal. In at least seven other Florida cities, some three-quarters of condo buildings have hit that age.
Many of the aging towers line the beachfront, where salt corrosion and other forces are speeding their decline. That is leaving thousands of buildings saddled with multimillion-dollar repair costs—and little notion of how to pay for them.
Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of last month’s collapse of the 40-year-old Champlain Towers South condominium, which left at least 95 dead. The property showed multiple points of strain, including eroded concrete and failed waterproofing at its base, according to a 2018 engineering report.
It often takes as little as 20 years for many building materials, including stucco, windows and shingles, to reach the end of what engineers and building inspectors call their “useful life”—industry jargon for materials that need replacement or significant repair.
Nationwide, more than half of all condo buildings have stood at least three decades, according to Zillow. Coastal cities have among the largest shares of such aging buildings. In Miami, nearly 40% of the housing stock is condos, the highest of any major metropolitan area in the U.S., according to Zillow.
Building inspectors must approve most condo buildings before the first residents move in, but oversight after that is limited in most U.S. counties.
Typically, local authorities leave decision-making to individual condo boards. Those organizations usually are made up of unpaid volunteers with little or no professional experience as building managers or engineers. They must decide what repairs are needed, and persuade owners, often part-time residents, elderly and on fixed incomes, to drain their savings or take on debt to cover the tab.
James Prichard, a Florida-based construction lawyer at Ball Janik LLP, works with condo boards across the state. He said he has found myriad property damage issues, including defects in construction and problems in financial management.
“You have these complicated buildings that were very expensive to build, very expensive to buy, and they’re handed to the ordinary homeowners who are now in charge of maintaining them forever,” he said.
Action Line: Always maintain what you own, whether it’s your building, your firearms, your vehicle, or your financial portfolio. A little maintenance can make all the difference down the line. If you need help maintaining your financial portfolio, I would love to talk with you.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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