2018 inspection found "abundant" cracking and spalling of concrete in collapsed Miami tower's garage

Originally published at: 2018 inspection found "abundant" cracking and spalling of concrete in collapsed Miami tower's garage | Boing Boing


People should go to jail for this. I mean, they probably won’t, but they damn well should.


I used to work for an engineering company that did environmental inspections. Property owners ignore warnings from inspections unless there’s threat of losing money. I was only there a year, but I never saw an owner jump right on remediation unless there was an imminent threat of losing money.

It is really alarming that so many buildings in the US southeast, a high rainfall area, have flat roofs. I believe this is because of two things: it’s really cheap to construct those flat roofs, and no one wants to pay for an actual architect to design anything divergent from the out-of-the-box plans sold across the US.


The “free”-market institutions of American society materially enable and incentive this mindset, likely even more so in modern Florida (which was built in all senses of the word by shady real estate developers). And now we’re looking at a probable 100+ needless deaths because of it.


Maybe the modern world relies on concrete too much. Reinforced concrete always seems to be rotting inside with rusty rebar poking out. The Pantheon in Rome is a rare case of concrete that has lasted, mostly today we build quickly and accept that the structure has a useful life of a few decades.


I suspect that those who haven’t lived in Florida don’t understand what happened.
Building inspectors in Florida are wholly crooked and in the hands of contractors.
Contractors might as well be mobbed up if they’re not officially part of the mob.
Politicians like DeSantis see this as your problem, not theirs.
This is an example of GOP governance in the long term.



Concrete’s fine. It’s greed that has led us down this path.


Modern corporate law makes the problem even worse – it’s far too easy to subdivide liability among a boatload of spun-off corporate entities, so that it becomes incredibly difficult to go after a larger entity or owner in any kind of systematic way when there is a problem with one building.

Trump is an extreme example – he is notorious for using separate corporations under the umbrella of the Trump Corporation to avoid exposure to claims. But he is far from alone.

There’s a public value to letting businesses incorporate – there’s a decent argument for using incorporation to encourage business development. But the balance has shifted too far from acknowledging how much owners benefit too, and the costs and regulations need to be much, much higher for the privilege of being allowed to incorporate.

And that includes the ability to sue and imprison bad actors at the executive level. Corporate structures can’t be allowed to let execs skate for clearly criminal behavior, and if an org chart is so scrambled that it’s hard to assign responsibility, then that should be an argument for holding more people liable, not fewer.


And don’t forget this is a condo building. That means the owners need to vote to charge themselves $10k or 15k of special assessment per million dollars of repair bill, which is then due pretty much immediately. They may have had reserves but those often aren’t sufficient for huge expenses like this. Speaking from experience, condos can be a nightmare.


Flat roofs are a triumph of belief in technology over experience.

And the developers that made decisions the resulted in lower construction costs and greater long term maintenance costs are long gone.


An engineer also flagged a “major error” in the building’s design.

Miami Herald wants my personal data before it will let me read. I can’t even be arsed to give it false personal data, if that’s its attitude, as it will probably want to email me to confirm registration.

So, what was this “major error” in its design?


My guess would be a parking lot underneath a big concrete slab with swimming pool.


How many of the owners of the individual condos are (were :worried:) actually living in them?

Or are the owners all absentee landlords, who just wanted to collect their rents and pay as little as possible for maintenance not really knowing the condition of their “property”. They’re probably all furiously calling their insurance agents.


There was a report about one guy who talked on the phone to his mother who lived in the place, and she had commented about hearing creaking noises in the night. So sadly, no, they weren’t all empty.


It sounds like there were at least a few AirBnBs in the building. I saw someone on the news talking about a couple he knew from Argentina who were staying there.

I would have hoped that enough of those units would have been empty due to travel being stopped for Covid that the death count would be reduced. It doesn’t look that way, though.


The major error mentioned in the article was that the concrete was not sloped to allow water runoff. I know from experience that proper sloping requires some careful calculation, so sloppy or hasty contractors may not bother.


You can skip that/click through.

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here’s a more direct link that may not ask people to pay.

In a 2018 report about the Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside, an engineer flagged a “major error” dating back to the building’s origin where lack of proper drainage on the pool deck had caused “major structural damage,” according to records released late Friday night by town officials in the wake of the tower’s disastrous collapse on Thursday.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the issue was repaired or whether it could have ultimately contributed to the building’s partial collapse, which resulted in at least four deaths with over 150 people still unaccounted for.

The concern was laid out in an October 2018, “Structural Field Survey Report,” produced for the condo association by engineer Frank Morabito of Morabito Consultants. Morabito wrote that the “main issue” at Champlain Towers was that the pool deck and outdoor planters “laid on a flat structure” preventing water from draining. The lack of waterproofing was “a systemic issue” that traced back to a flaw “in the development of the original contract documents” 40 years ago, the report said.

The report documented how the years of standing water on the pool deck had severely damaged the concrete structural slabs below. The problem needed to be addressed quickly, Morabito wrote.

“Failure to replace waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially,” he wrote. The proper repair would be an “extremely expensive” undertaking, he warned.


Not the answer to the specific question but this article said 80 of 130 units occupied. It also has coverage of the engineering report.


You can read the report:

Item I (page 6-7) is implicated in the miami herald article though, for a warning of catastrophe to come, it seems buried.