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Summary: CAI supports state law that provides for mandatory building inspections and ongoing reviews of the major structural elements, owned, or maintained by the community association.
About the Community Association Housing Model
While community associations come in many forms and sizes, all associations share three basic characteristics: (1) membership in the association is mandatory and automatic for all property owners; (2) certain legal documents bind all owners to defined land-use requirements administered by the community association; and (3) all property owners pay mandatory lien-based assessments that fund association operations.
The community association housing model is actively supported by local government as it permits the transfer of many municipal costs to the association and homeowners. Today, many community associations deliver services that once were the exclusive province of local government.
Community associations are governed by a board of directors or trustees elected by their members. This board guides the association in providing governance and other critical services for the community usually funded by property taxes.
CAI supports policy that requires both initial and recurring inspections for buildings and other major structural elements owned or maintained by the association. This includes all multifamily buildings and structures made of concrete, load bearing masonry, steel, or structural systems such as heavy timber, including podium decks.
Building Inspections: Purpose and Schedule
The purpose of the first inspection is to act as a baseline for future inspections as well as to identify issues of immediate concern. For newly constructed buildings that are made of concrete, load bearing masonry, steel, or hybrid structural systems such as heavy timber including podium decks, CAI supports policy that requires a first inspection to occur within the first 5 years of occupancy. For buildings more than 10 years old, a first inspection should take place within 2 years of the building inspection law being enacted. After an initial inspection, CAI supports policy that requires inspection at the 10-year mark (from time of construction) and again at the 20-year mark, and then recurring inspections every 5 years after that. The purpose of the reinspection(s) will be to monitor progressive deterioration based on a comparison to the prior inspections and to identify issues of immediate concern as well as to establish a recommendation for the next inspection which, in any case shall not exceed 10 years for the first 20 years after construction and 5 years thereafter. At any time, there is concern about the safety or stability of the building structure, an inspection should be conducted immediately. The table below visualizes these recommendations supported by CAI:
CAI supports policy that requires developers to perform ongoing inspections during construction to ensure compliance with the plans and specifications. When a development is transferred from the developer to the association, CAI also supports policy that requires the developer to provide a complete set of the final approved architectural and engineering designs used for construction, copies of the building permits and certificates of occupancy, a manual for preventative maintenance that includes a schedule and recommendations for timing for maintenance and budget or reserve study, as appropriate. Finally, CAI supports policy that, when the builder meets with prospective purchasers, they are required to provide the summary of future Building Inspection Requirements (as outlined below), together with the projected cost of the same over time.
CAI recommends that protocols for building inspections as found in the latest edition of the ASCE Standard SEI/ASCE (11-99) Guideline for Structural Condition Assessment of Existing Buildings or other industry standards or other industry standards. The initial baseline inspection is identified as the Preliminary Assessment within this guide. If necessary, a detailed assessment as defined within this guide may be required.
Qualified Building Inspectors
CAI supports legislation that requires inspections be conducted by a qualified individual holding at least one of the following titles:
CAI supports legislation that requires inspectors to notify the local government authorities in writing if a safety concern is identified in the inspection report and record the date and receipt of notice. CAI supports legislation which provides the governing board of a community association to have the power to impose a special assessment or borrow funds necessary to make immediate repairs without a vote of the membership. Notwithstanding the provisions of the community association governing documents, empower the association governing board to impose a special assessment or borrow funds without a vote of the membership to fund emergent life safety repairs.
Learn more about CAI's Condominium Safety Public Policy Report and best practices to following for building inspections.
Adopted by the Board of Trustees, October 28, 2021