The tragic collapse of the Champlain Towers South Condominium in Florida has been an alarming event for many in the condominium and engineering industries. Our thoughts are first and foremost with the families and community impacted, and we are thankful for the various responders who are assisting with the recovery efforts.
This type of event offers our industry an opportunity to reflect and improve on how we address similar risks and challenges. Officials, industry professionals, property managers, and directors have a role to play in safeguarding the life and property of those who live in our condominiums. There are many safeguards in place to prevent this kind of rare event from occurring in our community, but to implement them effectively requires ongoing cooperation between all parties.
The Condominium Act requires the structural elements of a condominium to be maintained in a sound condition. As a local community, we can better maintain our buildings in a structurally sound condition by implementing the following:
- Consult your engineer and/or lawyer when you have potential concerns with your building.
- Ensure regular engineering condition assessments are completed for your building. This will identify potential issues early so that they can be addressed before they become a significant problem.
- When your engineer provides a recommendation, make sure it includes a timeline for repair.
- Follow your engineer’s recommendation. This includes adhering to the recommended timeline and scope for repair.
- If you disagree with the engineer’s recommendations, do not ignore them. Instead, one option is to seek the second opinion of another professional engineer.
- If there are concerns with the costs associated with recommended repairs, remember that there are financial tools available to assist your owners. Communication with your condominium owners is key.
While rare, structural issues and failures do occur in condominiums if problems are ignored and steps are not taken to address deterioration. By obtaining a timely professional opinion and following your engineer’s and lawyer’s advice, you can help safeguard lives and prolong the service life of your building.
Jordan Swail BESc, P.Eng., BSS
Building Science and Restoration