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Emily Gentile, President of the Beach Condo Association Jul 7, 2021 3 min read

BCA: Steps to Securing Your Hi-Rise Condo

Below is a great message from The Beach Condominium Association of Boca Raton and Highland Beach (BCA).  This is an “Association of Condo Associations” in South Palm Beach for condos on or near the beach.

The President of the BCA, Emily Gentile graciously agreed to let us share her letter to her member Associations, which are all beachfront hi-rises.

Her advice is consistent with Campbell’s advice from our Building Safety Webinar.

Dear BCA Members and Fellow Barrier Island Residents,

The recent developments at Surf Side Miami have left us all saddened and with several questions concerning our own beach side buildings and stability. The BCA wants you to know that we are here for you, to answer your questions and educate. We have an array of architects, engineers and contractors that support us for your convenience. As you can see when driving A1A, there are always several beach buildings having work done. The BCA is confident that our membership is cognizant of their responsibilities, buildings and take corrective action when needed.

The BCA has been speaking with both Boca Mayor Scott Singer and Highland Beach Mayor Douglas Hillman to organize a suggested plan of greater education and resources in defense against all the elements and deterioration that cause deficiencies and instability in buildings. Last week there was a local article that mentioned several buildings in Boca Raton on the beach that are about 40 years old. Many of these properties mentioned have done proactive repairs to their buildings over the years and they are in great shape today!
You may have seen the various articles and reports about Champlain Towers South collapse. Some of the reports noted serious deficiencies in the building. One of the engineer’s reports warned the board that the pool area was cracking in the garage and leaking into the substructure. Various areas of the building also had evidence of spalling, cracked concrete and exposed rebar, water leaks and were in obvious need of immediate repairs. It’s our understanding that the board of the Champlain Towers South was getting ready to implement repairs. Unfortunately, it was too little and too late to avoid this terrible situation.

We remind all the BCA Members that a Board has a fiduciary responsibility to maintain and protect their association and all people therein. At the top of this responsibility list are life safety items, such as Structural items, Fire Safety, Elevators, Electrical, Gas, and Water services. After speaking with both local Mayors, it's apparent and certain that we need to prepare for emergency orders coming from Tallahassee. The BCA expects changes from the State of Florida and local municipalities on life safety and building inspection codes. We anticipate this panoramic and encompassing F.S.718 legislative changes to cover condominium association’s financials, inspections, and construction areas, similar to what we experienced after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. We want to assure our BCA membership that we will get through this together.

The BCA has identified the following steps to get your building as secure as possible for all residents, guests and staff:

1. Miami-Dade and Broward Counties have a mandatory 40-year building certification with re certification every 10 years thereafter. Palm Beach County currently does not have that mandate currently, but we expect it in the near future.

2. Reserve Studies are recommended. You can choose an engineering firm or reserve study specialist to do the report. The engineering firms should be able to speak in more details and as follow-up proceed with any needed scope of work for deficiencies.

3. The BCA recommends that every association should have a go-to architect and engineering firm or firms to address all the life safety needs of the community. If your property is near 40-years or older, it is highly suggested that you have an engineering report on the life safety items. If the engineering reports or reserve studies show deficiencies, be prepared to correct the issues in a fiscally prudent manner as soon as possible. Again, Life Safety items should be given top priority and addressed immediately.

4. Preventative maintenance will help maintain the property and equipment. Preventative maintenance will help prolong the life span of items and be more cost effective in the long run.

5. Do not kick the can down the road to save a few bucks. See a problem, address it and fix the problem. Your association and residents will be much better off and protected.