Structural inspections of older buildings not required in Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS — Following the collapse of a condominium building in Florida, FOX59 wanted to know whether Indiana requires inspections of older high-rise buildings.

According to local structural engineers, there is no requirement for structural inspections once a building is occupied, so future inspections would be the decision of private owners. Only a change in use or reconstruction could trigger new building inspections.

Structural engineer and board member of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Indiana Kurt Heidenreich said it’s important not to jump to conclusions about what caused the Florida collapse and Hoosiers should not be worried about the safety of buildings here.

“I don’t think there’s cause for alarm generally with regard to buildings,” Heidenreich said.

Indiana state and local building codes lay out specific requirements for construction of new buildings and the state does inspect all building plans. However, Heidenreich and other structural engineers have long pushed for the state to readopt Chapter 17 of the International Building Code, which is used in most states and would require stricter structural testing during construction.

“The state law would have the teeth of the state then behind it to enforce it, as opposed to simply my specification that an owner … may or may not fully adopt,” Heidenreich said.

An Indiana Exploratory Committee for Code Updates is currently reviewing state building codes, most of which were last updated in 2014 or earlier.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security sent this additional information regarding building safety in the state:

Indiana Building Code includes more than 170 pages of detailed structural designs and material performance requirements, all adopted for the purpose of protecting the lives and property of the citizens of Indiana. It is the responsibility of the design professional/architect to design structures that conform to those standards and regulations. Before construction of a building commences, the IDHS Plan Review Section reviews all construction plans for compliance with building code and any other adopted building regulations.

Inspection duties during construction are the responsibility of the design professional and the local building official. In jurisdictions that lack a local official, the IDHS Code Enforcement Section steps in to provide the service for all Class 1 structures (commercial). This includes more than 13,000 inspections for fire and building maintenance, with emphasis on required life safety systems and code requirements such as fire alarm and sprinkler systems, means of egress, kitchen hood systems, electrical panels, accessibility and fire and safety evacuation plans.

David Hosick, Director of Public Affairs, Indiana DHS

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