BOCA RATON, Fla. - Efforts at the site of the Surfside condominium collapse have shifted from rescue to recovery after two weeks of searching for survivors.
At the time of this article, 64 people have been recovered from the rubble. Another 76 remain unaccounted for.
This tragedy has raised questions about the safety of high-rise condominium buildings, especially waterfront properties. While the cause of the collapse has not been determined and likely won't be for months, many experts are pointing fingers at the lack of inspection requirements for not catching concerning infrastructure issues sooner.
In Miami-Dade County, building re-inspections are only due every 40 years. There is no mandate for building inspections or re-inspections across the state, meaning it's up to building owners and property management teams to conduct inspections when they decide it's necessary.
Florida law firm Sachs Sax Caplan, known for leading in the field of condominium law, thinks the state should create guidelines and regulations for building construction and inspections. The firm wrote a letter to Governor Ron DeSantis' office, asking him to create an expert task force to establish statewide standards for building inspections and re-inspections to protect life and safety.
"It could really create an opportunity to have one of the positive legacies of this terrible experience be one of saving lives where we create an opportunity to have safer buildings so people can sleep at night," said Louis Caplan, a founding partner at Sachs Sax Caplan and an expert in community association law.
Caplan says the recommendation is for the state to put together a team of engineers, architects, contractors and other industry experts that could help create guidelines for the type of materials used in new construction, the frequency of inspections and disclosure requirements to unit buyers at the state level.
Caplan says his firm has gotten confirmation that their letter was received by the governor's office, but has not gotten any feedback about their proposal.
The last time Florida created statewide building code changes was after Hurricane Andrew destroyed more than 25,000 homes in 1992. The building codes mandated by the state were changed to require new buildings to withstand high winds, create processes for product approvals for construction materials used in homes and required education and certification for inspectors, building officials and plan examiners.