In Florida, it just doesn’t make sense to live in a home or apartment that isn’t 100% concrete block construction. Whether it be fire, wind, rain/moisture or termites it’s only a matter of time before wood construction comes back to haunt you. Take musician Tony Chaplin who was forced to leave his apartment in southeast Orlando. “It was a pain moving all my stuff”. Or Carole and Jim Wray who were forced out of their apartment when termites swarmed their unit. A nearby stairway collapsed, frightening the Wrays and others. “An older couple had just gotten in the door- They had to take people out of their apartments in a cherry picker. I ended up taking a week off from work to move, for which I wasn’t reimbursed,” Carole said. “The whole thing was scary and very inconvenient to say the least, and it soured us on wood construction in Florida. Our new condo is block construction, so we’re happy with it.
These stories aren’t uncommon in Florida. “Indifferent maintenance, wood construction and steamy, dank weather are eating away at apartments in greater Orlando”, says Dan Tracey of the Orlando Sentinel. “At one point in time five major complexes in the area were closed by state, county or city authorities, leading to fears that more of the area’s sprawling complexes were in jeopardy. Rotting, mold-encrusted wood, decrepit stairs, balconies and railings, termite riddled beams- all are increasingly common sights for tenants and building inspectors. Wood constructed apartments and condos became fashionable in the late 1970’s and have continued ever since but Florida’s high humidity and torrential rains quickly ravage wood construction.
The trend for using lots of wood in apartments, condos and homes originated in California. As the president of a major apartment developer in Florida said,” It worked a lot better in California.” Owners of those closed complexes are being forced to spend millions of dollars to reopen them.