Nearly half a century has passed since the collapse of a Drug Enforcement Agency office in Miami killed seven people and drove changes to local building codes. The new regulations required owners to check buildings that reached 40 years old for signs of deterioration in a wet, salty, storm-prone climate.
The rules have largely served South Florida well, ensuring that building owners make repairs before small problems turn catastrophic. And yet these rules did not prevent last week’s collapse of Champlain Towers South. While the cause of the collapse remains under investigation, officials and experts are calling for an examination of the rules, and whether they need to be updated, after the failure of the 12-story condominium building that stood at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean on a barrier island that includes Miami Beach.
The condo’s owners association had known for two-and-a-half years about a flaw in the original construction and major structural damage caused by water and salt infiltrating the concrete and eating away at the steel inside, a common problem in coastal buildings, documents show. But they failed to fix it.