December 7, 2021

Volume XI, Number 341

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December 06, 2021

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Virtual Building Code Inspections Now Being Implemented in Florida - What Does This Mean for You?

Earlier this year, amendments to sections 553.79 and 553.791, Florida Statutes, went into effect to permit local building departments and private providers of building code inspections to perform virtual building code inspections in lieu of traditional, on-site inspections. The newly added language is found in sections 553.79(6) and 553.791(8), Florida Statutes, and the amendments broadly define “virtual inspection” as “a form of visual inspection which uses visual or electronic aids to allow a building code administrator or an inspector, or team of inspectors, to perform an inspection without having to be physically present at the job site during the inspection.” This presumably authorizes inspectors to perform building code inspections based on pictures or videos provided by contractors, or by conducting live video conferences with contractors. While the authorization to perform virtual inspections appears to be quite broad in scope, it does not apply to structural inspections on threshold buildings.

Many local jurisdictions in Florida have already begun implementing virtual building code inspections, though the scope of virtual inspections offered varies by jurisdiction. As with most changes in the law, it is important for owners, contractors, and inspectors to proceed with caution and deliberation as the body of law surrounding virtual inspections develops. Issues regarding liability and standards of care typically arise when allegations of defective construction are made, and it is important to consider how statutorily-authorized virtual building code inspections reconcile with the current body of law regarding standards of care and liability, whether the decision to utilize virtual inspections may increase or decrease a particular party’s potential exposure to liability, and how any potential exposure to liability can be mitigated.

© 2007-2021 Hill Ward Henderson, All Rights ReservedNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 326
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About this Author

Andrew E. Holway Associate Attorney Tampa Florida Construction Design Hill Ward Henderson Law
Associate

Andrew is an associate in the firm’s Construction & Design and Litigation Groups.  His practice primarily involves representing owners, general contractors, subcontractors, building code inspectors, and sureties in litigation and arbitration.  Andrew is well-versed in handling construction defect disputes, payment and lien foreclosure actions, complex commercial litigation, and post-arbitration award judicial proceedings including actions to confirm or vacate arbitration awards.

Andrew is an active member of the Construction Law Section of...

813-222-3123
B. Ben Dachepalli Tampa Florida Shareholder Construction Property Law Hill Ward Henderson Law Firm
Shareholder

Ben Dachepalli is dedicated to understanding each client’s business to provide comprehensive strategies that go beyond legal issues, disputes or contracts.

Ben serves as chair of the firm’s Construction & Design Practice Group. He has extensive experience negotiating and drafting construction-related agreements and litigating complex construction claims regarding contract disputes, construction defects, design errors, surety bonds and construction liens.

Ben is board certified in Construction Law by...

813-227-8439
Timothy C. Ford Tampa Florida Shareholder Propert Real Estate Construction Hill Ward Henderson Law Firm
Shareholder

Tim Ford has experience representing owners, developers, contractors, construction managers, design professionals and subcontractors in all phases of the construction process, with an emphasis on complex construction litigation. He currently serves on the firm's Management Committee. 

He is an active member of the Forum on Construction Law of the American Bar Association, as well as other state and local construction law organizations. Tim has served as chair of Division 7 (Insurance, Surety & Liens) of the Forum on Construction Law, as well...

813-227-8495
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