City of Alexandria Provides Building Safety Information
For Immediate Release: July 2, 2021
In response to questions from the community regarding building safety in the days after the collapse of the high-rise condominium in Florida, the City of Alexandria is providing information on local building safety code administration and regulation.
The Commonwealth of Virginia has a uniform statewide building code; therefore, the adopted code is used consistently for the construction and alteration of buildings, including those in Alexandria. Virginia is recognized as a national leader in building code development and its building code is reviewed and updated every three years.
Virginia’s building code requires multiple layers of inspections, reviews and monitoring, particularly related to building structure and integrity, that initially take place during building construction. The inspections are performed by professionally licensed architects, engineers, municipal inspectors, special inspectors, senior engineers, certified technical experts, certified laboratories and certified testing agencies. Once these inspections have been passed, the building will receive a certificate of occupancy.
Building owners are then required to have periodic inspections of certain systems, such as elevators, fire protection and fire alarm systems. Currently, there are no requirements to proactively or regularly inspect building structure. A building that has received a certificate of occupancy is only inspected again if there is a change in occupancy or alterations that require inspection. As part of this inspection process, the statewide building code contains provisions for identifying and correcting unsafe buildings and structures. If a building is identified during an inspection as being structurally unstable or unsafe, there are provisions to handle that situation.
“The tragic collapse of the building in Surfside, Florida, is highly unusual. There are millions of commercial and residential high-rise buildings in the United States and catastrophic structural failures like the recent catastrophe are, thankfully, quite rare. However, this is an opportunity for us to consider and revisit the issue of building safety, and identify ways to review and potentially enhance building safety,” said Mayor Justin Wilson. “The City is committed to the safety of our residents and I look forward to working with City staff, my City Council colleagues, other localities, members of the General Assembly, members of the Administration and other key stakeholders to identify ways to ensure the safety of buildings and structures in our community and in those across the Commonwealth.”
Anyone who is concerned about building safety or a specific situation should contact their homeowners or condominium association. The City of Alexandria’s Department of Code Administration can also review the location and request that a licensed professional engineer inspect the area as needed.
Visit alexandriava.gov/Code or call 703.746.4200 for more information.
For inquiries from the news media only, contact Andrea Blackford, Senior Communications Officer, at email@example.com or 703.746.3959.
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This news release is available at alexandriava.gov/123197.