Construction in Miami: Shaken But Not Shut Down By The Coronavirus – PART II (Updated 3/30/2020)

Patrick BarthetCovid-19 Coronavirus, Work Stoppages and Terminations

Construction in Miami Shaken Up But Not Shut Down by the Coronavirus - PART II

Update: 3/30/2020

Miami-Dade Building Department Closed; Private Inspections OK

On Saturday, Miami-Dade County Mayor issued Emergency Order 14-20, suspending the activity of the County Building Department, including plan review, inspections and the issuance of Certificates of Occupancy.  The Order, full text available by clicking here, allows for inspections by engineers or architects on the condition that they have no financial interest in the project, and includes the forms that the inspecting engineer or architect must complete.  Final inspections are to by conducted by the County once normal operations resume, but a TCO may be issued on a case-by-case basis.

Miami-Dade Emergency Order 14-20

The City of Miami Building Department isn’t closed, but plans must be deposited in secure drop-boxes and requests for review status and related information must be by email.  Miami Beach is allowing on-line permit submissions and will continue to issue new permits, except for interior condominium work. The City will also inspect job sites for compliance with CDC safety regulations and issue violations to this that do not meet the requirements.

The City of Homestead Building Department is also closed, but will conduct some business by email.  Pinecrest will continue to process permits and inspections, but there is a two week moratorium on new construction effective on March 16, 2020.  No word from Pinecrest on whether the moratorium will be extended. South Miami’s will accept plans Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:00am to 12:00pm, but will issue no new permits until further notice.  Inspection requests will be accepted through e-mail only and will be performed daily as possible.

For information on other Miami-Dade County municipalities, go to https://www.miamidade.gov/global/initiatives/coronavirus/home.page and click on the Municipalities and Curfews link.


Both Miami-Dade and Broward have classified construction as an “essential business”.  This means the vast majority of our construction clients have remained open, albeit often with a skeleton office staff and limited field personnel.

Scott Alfele is President of Ebsary Foundation Company, which has provided marine and foundation construction services throughout Florida and the Caribbean since 1922.  Headquartered along the Miami River, the company remains open. He told us “All our government projects with the FDOT, Corps of Engineers, South Florida Water Management, City of Miami and Miami-Dade Water & Sewer are actively working but we are employing social distancing at the respective job sites.  The health of our staff is paramount.”

In these challenging times, construction companies are rethinking their priorities while they look to adhere to governmental orders to social distance and to still keep operating as best they can.  John Charlton, Principal with the Matson-Charlton Surety Group, specializing in construction bonding, emailed us that all his clients remain open but most have their personnel working from home. “Contractors tell us that their jobs will continue as long as inspections continue, but they do anticipate that payments may slow.”

An interesting point was made by Claude Kershner, CEO of Reef Tropical Pool & Landscape.  He has offices in Miami and Key Largo, a team of over 100 and handles pool and landscape work in South Florida.  He followed up with us via email and said “Our pool maintenance is charging ahead as the Department of Health has confirmed that maintaining properly sanitized swimming pools and spas is considered essential to the public health.”  This same point was reiterated by Brandon Swanson, Principal at Coral Gables Plumbing, “the plumbing services industry is critical to the health and sanitation of our society, so we continue to service our clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week”.  Kershner went on to say “We are seeing commercial construction proceed as usual and most residential jobs are actually pushing harder to finish. One large site takes the temperature of our folks at the gate and some municipalities are talking about doing inspections from photo submittals.”

Finally, Lucia Soria, President of woman owned general contracting firm, Ram-Tech Construction, notes that “all our crews are working, with the only slow downs being changes associated with work in tenant occupied projects and permitting agencies limiting the number of people available for inspections.”

While no one is yet speaking about right sizing their existing workforce, it is clear that if this virus crisis continues into the next several weeks, such a conversation may become inevitable.