In conjunction with the Milestone Structural Inspections, the state of Florida has introduced the Structural Integrity Reserve Study (SIRS) to further bolster the safety and long-term maintenance of condominium buildings. An amendment to the initial Florida Senate Bill 4-D, signed by Governor Ron DeSantis in May 2022, now requires condominiums in Florida to establish a reserve fund dedicated to structural safety.
Legislative Updates and Commitment to Safety
Florida Senate Bill 154 has refined the existing legislation, emphasizing the commitment to ensuring that condominium associations are equipped with the necessary financial reserves for the maintenance and replacement of critical structural and life safety elements. This legislative update underscores the importance of proactive measures to safeguard the well-being of residents and the longevity of their buildings.
Key Components of the Structural Integrity Reserve Study
The SIRS is a novel form of reserve study designed to specifically address the long-term maintenance and replacement needs of crucial structural and life safety elements within condominiums. The law mandates the funding of reserves, with the study determining the necessary reserve funds for future major repairs and replacements of common area elements.
The study focuses on eight key structural elements:
- Structural Systems
- Fireproofing & Fire Safety
- Exterior Painting and Waterproofing
- Electrical Systems
- Windows & Exterior Doors
- Other elements over $10,000 impacting the structural integrity of a building.
Qualifications and Study Completion
As per the legislation, a Florida licensed engineer, architect, or certified reserve specialist can conduct the visual inspection and prepare the SIRS report. This comprehensive report identifies common areas under the association’s responsibility, estimates the remaining useful life of each element, and provides replacement costs or deferred maintenance expenses. It also outlines the recommended annual reserve amount for each element. Associations existing before July 1, 2022, must complete the study by December 31, 2024, or concurrently with a Milestone Inspection by December 31, 2026. Subsequent SIRS studies must be conducted every 10 years.
Compliance and Implementation
Condominiums and cooperatives that are three stories or higher are obligated to comply. The Building Code Official in each county and municipality will oversee compliance, as inspection reports are submitted to the Association. Budgets adopted on or after January 1, 2025, must align with the latest SIRS findings, and associations must incorporate these amounts into their annual budgets. The legislation restricts waiving or partially funding reserves for specific SIRS components. However, it allows for adjustments for inflation.
Associations are no longer permitted to waive, reduce, or repurpose reserves for SIRS required items, even with majority owner approval. Failure to conduct a Structural Integrity Reserve Study constitutes a breach of fiduciary responsibility by officers and directors.
In summary, the Structural Integrity Reserve Study serves as a crucial tool for condominium associations to manage their property and ensure the long-term structural integrity for their buildings. It provides valuable information that can help Associations plan for future maintenance and repairs and allocate funds accordingly. Additionally, it provides Associations peace of mind regarding available funds required for maintenance of their building structure and protects their ongoing investment.
Sinisa Kolar, P.E., FRSE, is the Principal & Department Head of Engineering and Restoration for our three Florida offices located in Miami, St. Petersburg, and West Palm Beach.