DENVER (CBS4) – Following a tragic building collapse in Florida, CBS4 is taking a closer look at building inspections here in Colorado.
Aurora building inspectors say it’s an exhaustive process; they monitor every step of construction and remodeling for every type of building in the city, a process that can take more than 2 years.
“We’re there during the entire the lifetime of the construction process,” said David Schoonmaker, building inspections manager for the City of Aurora.
Schoonmaker says construction and remodeling of all high-rise buildings in Aurora is closely monitored by a team of experts.
“We would have as many as a multitude of inspectors there on an ongoing continuous basis,” Schoonmaker explained. “It’s an ongoing, continuous observation of the construction activities as they happen, and then they’ll have inspection requests along the way we’ll look at specific elements, as they’re built.”
The building that just collapsed near Miami Beach — Champlain Towers South in Surfside — was 40 years old, and researchers reportedly found last year that it was sinking as far back as the 1990s.
Schoonmaker says in general, Colorado has solid land in comparison to the wet, sandy earth near Florida beaches.
“We really don’t worry about anything like seismic structural or swamplands, and things of that nature, so we’re pretty solid here in Colorado,” Schoonmaker explained.
Asked if there are any particular precautions Aurora takes in terms of older buildings, Schoonmaker said, “We only do the inspections during the construction process … once we’re done, we issue a certificate of occupancy and then we don’t go back unless there’s a remodel or any other additional work that needs to be permitted.”
Schoonmaker says there are sometimes additional evaluations outside of the city’s purview as buildings get older.
“I would feel confident in our program that we have,” Schoonmaker said. “There’s a multitude of processes and a multitude of layers upon layers upon layers of oversight on these types of constructions, so I feel pretty confident here in Colorado.”
The City of Denver also has a comprehensive inspection program saying Denver has 24 building inspectors who monitor high-rise buildings as they are being built.
“Denver takes building safety codes very seriously. High-rise construction must be designed by licensed structural engineers and the city reviews plans to ensure that the building design will be safe and meet all of our building and zoning codes,” a city spokesperson said in an email to CBS4.
“The code requires inspections of major building systems including the foundation, framing, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, fire alarm and fire suppression, and the roof. The code also requires additional, third-party inspections by licensed structural engineers. Third-party engineers and inspectors perform an in-depth structural assessments for high-rises. Depending on the size of the building, Denver’s building inspectors will perform anywhere from 5 to 500 inspections on one building as the construction progresses, and we won’t certify a building for occupancy until it has been fully inspected and approved.”