What Can We Learn from the Surfside Tragedy?

On June 24, 2021, the unthinkable happened. The 12-story Champlain Towers South building partially collapsed in the middle of the night. 98 people died. Shortly thereafter, the remaining two buildings in the complex were evacuated and demolished. As we approach the one-year anniversary of this horrific tragedy, let’s take a look at the lessons that condo associations can learn from this event to prevent it from happening again.  

Heed Warnings About Waterproofing and Structural Integrity

In 2018, engineers had warned the condo association governing the development that there was significant structural damage due to water infiltrating the cement in the foundation of the building, as well as water intrusion from planters on the deck, the pool deck itself, and a lack of waterproofing on the parking deck.[1] The repairs would have cost millions of dollars, which would have required the condo association to significantly raise fees for its residents. Sadly, the lack of completing these essential repairs caused the collapse.

It is essential that condo association boards have their buildings inspected for structural integrity and take the findings to heart. It is far better to err on the side of safety and complete an expensive repair than risk the senseless loss of lives. Similarly, keep up with any ongoing required maintenance, especially waterproofing. With our high humidity, high water tables, hurricanes, and high salt content in our water, our buildings are at an elevated risk level for water intrusion and damage. Cement parking structures, foundations, and decks also should be regularly inspected and any spalling should be immediately remediated.

Maintain a Sufficient Reserve Fund

Nobody likes to pay for a special assessment for additional repairs. In fact, infighting over paying for repairs and the desire to keep association fees low were key reasons why the Champlain Towers condo board had deferred their necessary maintenance for so long. Board members should consider meeting with a financial planner to obtain a professional perspective on how large their association’s reserve fund should actually be. Then, adjust assessments and, if necessary, consider establishing lines of credit to raise the reserve fund to a sufficient level to cover ongoing maintenance and any surprise maintenance costs.

As a condo association board member, it is essential to maintain the integrity of the condo building and the safety of the residents, even if this means some residents are unhappy about new fees, assessments, or the inconvenience of dealing with maintenance or construction crews. If you have concerns about how to find an engineer for inspections, a financial professional for reserve fund analysis, or even how to break the news about a special assessment or raising association fees to your residents, contact CCM to learn about our services. Our property managers can provide guidance to your board and handle all of these situations for you, so you can have peace of mind that an experienced professional is managing these essential responsibilities.

Consolidated Community Management (CCM) is a full-service property management company specializing in condominium and homeowner association management in Broward and southern Palm Beach Counties.  We are committed to working together with community Boards of Directors to develop management plans tailored to the unique requirements of each community and their residents.

CCM provides a quality of service that is unique to our industry and consistently delivers a distinct competitive advantage.  Our concentrated, extensive local presence and knowledge of community associations results in lasting partnerships and superior service.  We have built our industry reputation on employing the best in the business and assigning only a limited number of properties to each Property Manager Team.

Our team at Consolidated Community Management provides expert property management services at competitive prices.  Contact us today by calling (954) 718-9903 or clicking on ccmfla.com.

[1] The New York Times. Miami’s Surfside Condo Was Flawed and Failing. Here’s a Look Inside. – The New York Times (nytimes.com). Accessed April 23, 2022.

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