By: Helena Perray, Follow South Jersey Community Resources Intern
TRENTON, N.J. — Following the devastating collapse of a Florida condominium complex last month, Governor Phil Murphy and Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver reaffirmed their trust in the strength of New Jersey’s building codes and commitment to public safety.
Last week, Gov. Murphy and Lt. Governor Oliver ensured all residents that the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) – through partnership with individual municipalities – will continue to protect New Jerseyans through continued implementation of mandatory inspections and building codes.
One of these codes is the Uniform Construction Code (UCC), which allows for the implementation and enforcement of construction rules and regulations statewide.
“The kind of tragedy that happened in Florida last month is the reason why New Jersey has one of the strongest building codes in the nation and why [the] DCA has a capable team of building codes experts who establish and enforce these rigorous health, welfare, and safety standards,” Lt. Governor Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner, said in a release. “The Uniform Construction Code is the national standard, and New Jersey is one of the few states that consistently adopts it statewide, which demonstrates our commitment to protecting the public.”
Within the UCC, there are more than 12 subcodes accounted for that regulate plumbing, electrical, fire protection, energy, elevator safety standards and other elements within the constructed environment.
According to a press release, the DCA’s Bureau of Housing Inspection is required to supervise “regular inspections of hotels, motels, and multiple-family buildings that contain three or more housing units” as a part of the New Jersey Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Law.
“The cyclical inspections help the State and local governments ensure that buildings in which multiple people and families are residing are being properly maintained by the property owner and meeting health and safety standards. The inspections include a visual look at foundation and structural members of the building that are accessible. They also cover such standards as heat, infestation, and lead hazards to make sure the building is safe for human habitation.”
If a violation of the New Jersey Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Law is identified, the DCA Bureau of Housing Inspection will issue a notice and subsequently re-inspect the building. You can submit your concerns or complaints regarding building safety with the Bureau of Housing Inspection via email to BHIInspections@dca.nj.gov.
Many Americans felt unrest following the collapse of Miami’s Champlain Towers South condo tower just a few weeks ago. While investigations into the collapse continue to take place, one leading theory regarding the cause of building’s crumble is the failure to repair structural damage identified in a report conducted more than two-and-a-half years ago.
The report noted structural damage to concrete below the building’s pool deck, as well as signs of corrosion, cracking, and decay in the parking garage’s walls and concrete support beams.
The initial report estimated a total of $9.1 million needed in repairs. However, due to continually rising costs and the building’s growing list of damages since 2018, the repair process cost was estimated to have risen above $15 million.
With more than 90 confirmed deaths and hundreds still missing, individuals nationwide have begun to fear for their own safety, questioning their state’s commitment to following through with inspections, repairs, and other safety measures that could mean the difference between life and death.
According to Gov. Murphy, the enforcement of these codes and regulations and the tragedy that took place in Miami serve as reminders of New Jersey’s continued effort to protect its residents from tragedy and maintain statewide safety.
“The Florida condominium collapse is a sobering reminder that inspections and enforcement of building codes are critical tools that keep people safe,” Gov. Murphy said in a release. “New Jersey’s building codes are among the strongest in the nation, and our residents can rest assured that the Department of Community Affairs goes above and beyond the nationwide standard. Through continued vigilance, we can prevent tragedies and save lives.”
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.