After Fla. condo collapse, NJ law would require old building inspections
Following the devastating collapse of the 12-story, 40-year-old condominium in Surfside, Florida in June, which resulted in 98 deaths, a New Jersey state senator has introduced legislation to ensure that similarly aged structures in New Jersey are inspected and made structurally safe.
Sen. Samuel Thompson, R-Middlesex, said the bill would require that the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs conduct an inspection program in which all state buildings 40 years and older would be inspected at least every five years.
The legislation exempts single-family homes and federal buildings and allows the commissioner to exempt certain classes of buildings and structures from the program, Thompson said.
Then the buildings would be re-inspected every five years after that for possible structural defects.
"It occurred to me that we needed an inspection program here in New Jersey. We have a lot of old buildings here.
In Florida, there had been previous inspections of the collapsed building and others in which structural defects were found. Engineers and contractors had identified serious structural deterioration prior to the collapse, including crumbling concrete and water infiltration. But Thompson said there were no programs in existence to see that those defects were corrected.
"It occurred to me that we needed an inspection program here in New Jersey. We have a lot of old buildings here," said Thompson. With the state's aging building stock and the harsh coastal and winter weather, New Jersey cannot be at risk of a similar catastrophic collapse.
'Families that live in these buildings deserve our vigilance before a tragic collapse happens here in New Jersey.'
Over a period of five years, Community Affairs would be conducting initial inspections. Once the buildings are inspected, if defects are found, the owners have 150 days to make the necessary repairs. They will then re-inspect the buildings every five years.
Thompson does not expect any opposition to the bill. It should move forward and he expects Gov Phil Murphy to sign it immediately.
"Families that live in these buildings deserve our vigilance before a tragic collapse happens here in New Jersey," Thompson said.