Remember the old Timex watch jingle, ‘it takes a licking and keeps on ticking’? The gist of the ad is that no matter what you threw at it, a Timex watch kept working.
If you think about it, a building’s exterior is almost like a Timex watch. Each year, Mother Nature throws her best curveballs at South Florida developments—intense sun, hurricane-strength high winds, fierce rains and perhaps, a bit of frost in the winter months. And don’t forget the pollution, salt air, random damage from branches and debris, construction equipment and other items. Your exterior takes it all in stride, and (hopefully) remains standing strong. Well, almost. A building’s exterior can take a lot of abuse, but after time, it does begin to show wear and tear and needs some TLC.
“Florida in particular is known for being probably the harshest building environment in North America,' says Will Simons, president of the Florida regional office of Association Reserves in Miami. “We have this really crazy combination of lots of sunlight, lots of rain, lots of wind— it's a very unfriendly environment, which is especially true for coastal environments. The marine atmosphere is very corrosive and hard on metal finishes, railings and air conditioning equipment. Things just do not last very long the closer you get to the coast. Salt and moisture is a very destructive combination,” he says.
The Root of All Evil
Due to this harsh climate, structural issues with a condo or other residential building can run the gamut, and even depend on the most specific geography of a building.
“If you have an oceanfront high-rise, the air conditioning equipment may last half as long as air conditioning equipment that's just a couple miles inland,” says Simons. “If you're doing an inspection, you have to understand what is a normal life expectancy, not only within our tough climate, but especially so if you're anywhere near salt water.”