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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 110370
Experience:  Licensed attorney practicing landlord-tenant, land use and other real estate law and litigation.
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What are the regulations regarding the required inspection

Customer Question

What are the regulations regarding the required inspection and maintenance of existing sprinkler systems in condominiums?
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
Annual inspections are required of all commercial buildings, which includes a condominium building, of the sprinkler system in GA in accordance to NFPA standards. Here is the GA Fire Sprinkler Act governing sprinkler systems:
Also, O.C.G.A. 25-2-13(f), mandates the municipalities are responsible for ensuring these inspections that are conducted under the fire and safety codes annually.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for your initial response and the reference to the printed material. I am currently reviewing the material and trying, as a layman, to understand of the regulations. The answers to the following questions would be very helpful.1) What procedures constitutes an inspection? What elements are to be examined and/or replaced?2) As a matter of common practice, does the cost of the inspection rest with the association or the owner's of individual units?3) What is the schedule for replacement of valves or gauges?4) Our system has not been inspected for ten years because the previous board was unaware of the need to have an inspection. How does intentional failure to have the system inspected impact insurance coverage and liability.5) What documentation should I request from an inspection provider?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
An inspection must be done by a qualified inspector. As far as what is supposed to be done or replaced, you would need to ask a qualified inspector what their industry standard is as that is not for a lawyer to determine and only a sprinkler inspector or the fire marshal can tell you what should be inspected and when repair or replacement is necessary.
2) The association gets money from the owners through fees and dues. So, ultimately, the owners are assessed the costs of the inspections and any necessary repairs. This is governed by the association bylaws and covenants as well.
3) Again, repair or replacement of valves and gauges depends on their condition and the experience of the qualified inspector. It is not in the code and it is not a legal matter, it is a sprinkler inspector and fire code industry standard to be determined by the inspector during their annual inspection.
4) Failure to abide by state law for annual inspection can result in the association being cited and fined (again, ultimately this cost is borne by the association from dues, fees and assessments of the owners). Also, if the insurer finds that the sprinkler failure resulted from negligent inspection they could refuse to provide coverage for any damages from a fire.
5) You need to first ask them for what they check on inspection and their industry standards for the issues you raised above. Once you have that information, you would know what should have been done on your property.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Thank you again for your prompt response.1) Price quotes for sprinkler inspection and maintenance that we have received appear open-ended. This prevents the Condo Board from determining a firm price. Vendors indicate that a separate inspection to determine needed work prior to completing the necessary work to repair or replacement of components would be an extra expense. Do you have suggestions? Please note that our system has not been inspected and is 10 years old. It appears that we are between a rock and a hard place.3) Are Better Business Bureau ratings available for the Georgia Independent Sprinklers, Inc. and Cliff's Fire Extinguisher Co, Inc? Can you provide them?4) What are a few questions that we should ask prior to entering into an agreement with vendor?5) Could you share guidelines for using a property manager rather relying on the Condo Board of Directors for hiring vendors for lawn care and long- and short-maintenance needs?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
1) If there are quotes you received that are open ended, it is because they cannot determine an exact price. So go to another company, that is your only option to get more quotes.
2) You can check the companies yourself at the BBB website, and you should check out each company you will use.
3) You need to ask how long they have been doing this type of work and how many other buildings in the area they do and which buildings. This allows you to call the other building boards to see if they are satisfied with their work and pricing.
4) This is no different than dealing with any vendor. Make sure there is a cancellation clause in the agreement. Also, make sure all of the pricing is specified as close as possible. They may not be able to give a specific price because once they go into looking at the system in depth, which is why they are not giving you one now.
5) When dealing with any vendor, as long as your contract has a cancellation clause in the contract and a clear way for you to determine price, that is really all you need with these types of contracts for service. The bot***** *****ne is that if they do not provide adequate service or want to charge too much, if you have a cancellation clause in the contract you can simply terminate them and go elsewhere.

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