Hillsborough County considers new process to inspect older buildings after Surfside collapse

Jul 14, 2021

Fadia Patterson

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY -- Hillsborough County is taking a closer look at how to better keep up with improvements of older buildings in Tampa since the devastating condo collapse in Surfside.

"Since that collapse in Surfside, Florida building inspector Jonathan Moore says he has been inundated and busy answering those questions.

"Buildings are living things, they get sick, this building [Surfside] had cancer," he said. "It rotted from the inside out. That interior flaw caused the collapse."

Moore says what happened in Miami is a rare incident, but is not surprised counties including Hillsborough are looking to get more involved to avoid another tragedy. "Everything costs money and that's the problem that we had down in Miami. It was too much money to fix it," Moore added. "We're gonna see that money no longer gets in the way of these important structural improvements.

Commissioner Kimberly Overman suggests Hillsborough County adopt a recertification process to audit older buildings similar to the 40 year Building Saftey Inspection Programs in Miami-Dade and Broward.

Overman also says the re-inspection cycle should be updated and happen sooner than the 40 year deadline. "Most of our [Tampa] buildings that have been built in the last few years have standards to make sure that they are safe and are structurally sound based on hurricane codes," said Commissioner Overman. "This ordinance is really addressing buildings that have been around for a long time."

The commissioner says this move would provide assurance to those who are buying or living in Tampa's oldest buildings.

"The loss of life isn't something that you can just wipe away," she adds. "It's best that we do what we can to prepare and avoid these things."

If the ordinance is passed, Hillsborough would become only the third county in the state of Florida to have such a policy.