Monday, August 12, 2013

Disaster! Florida Sinkhole Causes Condo Collapse

The Associated Press has reported that a 48-unit condo building at a resort in florida has collapsed into a sinkhole. We can now add sinkholes to the list of disasters that condominium associations are ill-prepared to deal with. Read more about what a community association can do when faced with a natural disaster for which there are no reserves and no insurance. 


  1. Tyler:
    Thanks. Though this is a very long read, it very
    much worth the time. My experience insuring HOA's as well as living in them supports your
    suggestions and conclusions. Some Boards are very open with websites aimed at helping members and builing community, where others are all about
    supporting propery values attempting to meet all
    legal disclosure requirements without actually
    being open about anything.

    Flood and Landslide were discussed very well. Windstorm, Sinkholes, and Earthquake would benefit from additional details:
    Insurance policies and their exclusion vary by geographical locations, so Earthquake insurance that is very costly and hard to get in CA may be
    no problem in Nebraska. Windstorm Damage we all
    have automatically in CA is very problematic in
    Eastern and Southern states where hurricane exposire is greatest.

    I read a separate article today noting that even cities where local building codes have required Earthquake retro fitting of soft story residential structures for many years have failed
    to find ways to encourage these retro fitting projects to be completed. The highest success rate noted was Berkeley, CA at @ 50% of those buildings identified.

    The S.F. Bay Bridge provides the most dramatic example of what's wrong:
    Those who administer and those who are elected
    failed to properly study, and retro fit the S.F. Bay Bridge prior to 1989. Had they just done their jobs better, I doubt the bridge decks would
    have collapsed, and then no one would have died
    there from that cause. CalTrans closed that barn door after the horses ran out, installing additional deck supports, but either refused to
    plan for retro fitting the tower foundations or
    had not political support for it, so instead we
    were allowed to continue traveling over the supposidely "unsafe" bridge for twenty-four years while the pretty new replacement was being
    built at ever increasing cost. Government is the ultimate in common interest developments, and whether it is allowed to go broke formally or not, the governed will suffer for it's mistakes.

    Twenty-four years is a very long time. A project that most HOA's could not afford today, or finance short term, might more easily be fully accomplished if it were phased in over ten, to twenty-five years. I'm familier with one
    local HOA that is doing just this in Sausalito.

    Imagine if PG&E had taken the initiative to form a coalition of consumers, politicians, contractors, public safety, and insurers in 1980
    seeking to finance the installation of "excess flow" automatic gas shut off valves on every residential service line in CA? The property damage losses from Earthquake and susequent Fire and Explosion could have saved billions, as well as a few lives in San Bruno, CA.

    In my experience it is proven that much good can be accomplished by making incremental repairs compared to doing nothing. Further thought I respect professional's rights to disagree, I do not respect leaders who seek to use professionals opinions as a Liability shield rather than choosing to do what is reasonable to fix the problems at hand to the extent that is practical.

  2. It's quite disturbing to hear a news like this. Sinkholes are very common in Florida. But the important question is, how to know if a condo development is laying in a sinkhole area? The authority must give a warning or procedure on what to do when same disaster happen again.

  3. I don't think such things as sinkholes could have been avoided. A friend of mine is working for riva condo - a real estate agency from ft. lauderdale - he told me this could easily happen in the future. At the time of planning the buildings, the architects simply couldn't know if there is a possibility to such thing to occur in the future.