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New Florida law allows building inspections to be done virtually

The law went into effect on July 1.
Credit: City of Tampa

FLORIDA, USA — For nearly a month, rescue crews have been sifting through the rubble of a collapsed condominium in South Florida. 

The search for the men, women and children who were inside the Champlain Towers South in Surfside when the tragedy happened is nearing its end, as Miami-Dade leaders say they have found nearly all those who were initially reported missing.

Days after the collapse questions were raised about the safety of high-rise condominium buildings, especially waterfront properties. While the cause of the collapse has not been determined and likely won't be for months many experts pointed the finger at the lack of inspection requirements.

RELATED: Hillsborough County conducting study on building inspection policy

It's been 29 years since Florida has updated its statewide building code. The last major overhaul came after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. 

While no changes have been announced yet, five days after the Surfside collapse Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new law that would allow building inspections to be done virtually.

The measure was introduced and passed by state lawmakers earlier this year but went into effect on July 1.

According to the new law, government agencies that can perform building inspections are now allowed to do them virtually. 

There are exceptions to the rule, however. An inspection has to be in person for threshold buildings, or buildings that are more than three stories high, 50 feet tall and can fit more than 500 people. That would mean an inspection for a condominium building like the Champlain Towers can't be done virtually. 

Inspections aren't the only thing going virtual under the new law. Requests for inspections can now be sent to counties electronically through e-mail or an online fill-in form. 

Virtual building inspections aren't anything new. Many cities and counties across Florida already offer the service. However, with this new law, municipalities that don't offer the service will be required to. 

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