Engineers Warned of Condo Structural Damage

A tragic story gets more complicated.

NYT (“Engineer Warned of ‘Major Structural Damage’ at Florida Condo Complex“):

Three years before the deadly collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium complex near Miami, a consultant found alarming evidence of “major structural damage” to the concrete slab below the pool deck and “abundant” cracking and crumbling of the columns, beams and walls of the parking garage under the 13-story building.

The engineer’s report helped shape plans for a multimillion-dollar repair project that was set to get underway soon — more than two and a half years after the building managers were warned — but the building suffered a catastrophic collapse in the middle of the night on Thursday, crushing sleeping residents in a massive heap of debris.

This news will naturally spur recriminations and years of costly litigation. But it’s more complicated than the headline or the lede imply.

For one thing, the report didn’t exactly warn on imminent collapse:

“Though some of this damage is minor, most of the concrete deterioration needs to be repaired in a timely fashion,” the consultant, Frank Morabito, wrote about damage near the base of the structure as part of his October 2018 report on the 40-year-old building in Surfside, Fla. He gave no indication that the structure was at risk of collapse, though he noted that the needed repairs would be aimed at “maintaining the structural integrity” of the building and its 136 units.

Mostly, though, it’s just incredibly expensive to repair a building of this size and it’s really hard to get a condo association to agree to pay for it.

But solving the problem of water leaking down from the pool area into the garage was going to involve major work and cost millions of dollars. Brad Sohn, a lawyer representing at least one resident who has filed a lawsuit against the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association, said on Saturday that residents were facing assessments ranging from $80,000 to as high as $200,000.

Mr. Sohn said he was still trying to understand why repairs had not begun immediately after the 2018 report outlining the major problems with the building.

“There is no acceptable answer to that question — period, full stop,” he said.

But Sohn answers his own question. Most people don’t have $80,000 to $200,000 laying around or even the ability to absorb that sort of additional loan hit to stay in their homes. And, again, the report didn’t make it obvious that there was a huge hurry:

Donna DiMaggio Berger, a lawyer who represents the resident-led association that operates the building, said on Saturday that while the report outlined problems to fix, the condo board had no warning that there was a major safety risk.

“If there was anything in that report that really outlined that the building was in danger of collapse, or there was a hazardous condition, would the board and their families be living there?” she said. She noted that one board member, Nancy Kress Levin, was missing in the collapse, as were her adult children.

Regardless, as noted in the intro, the association was moving—just too slowly.

The association had taken out a $12 million line of credit to pay for the repairs and was going through a careful, step-by-step process to get them done, Ms. Berger said. She said that such a process could seem more like moving a commercial tanker than a speedboat, always involving pushback and debate as board members decided on what to tackle first and how much of a cost to impose on homeowners. “Nobody likes a special assessment,” she said.

The coronavirus pandemic also slowed progress on getting repairs underway, she said.

There’s a whole lot more to the story, including a 1974 incident that led to major regulatory reform in the city and the fact that a collapse of this magnitude likely had multiple causes.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    Short of a city building inspector declaring the building unsafe for occupancy it is difficult to see any condo board moving quickly to address the issue. The fact that the engineers reports were issued only 3 years ago and the condo board was where it is in planning seems pretty normal, given these types of decisions involve lots of cat herding.

    What likely happened here is that the building was weakened by age and deterioration that didn’t reach a level of being unsafe, but the sinking of land in Miami Beach and south Fla in general created a situation somewhat akin to an earthquake, where the building was stable till it wasn’t.

    The hard truth is that Miami isn’t salvageable, retreat!

    14
  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The fact remains that this was avoidable. Plenty of blame to go around.

    2
  3. drj says:

    Mostly, though, it’s just incredibly expensive to repair a building of this size and it’s really hard to get a condo association to agree to pay for it.

    I’m not familiar (at all) with Florida building regulations, but in normal jurisdictions local authorities can declare buildings uninhabitable and force inhabitants to move when said buildings are deemed unsafe.

    Also, “major structural damage” and “abundant cracking and crumbling of the columns, beams and walls” sound exactly like the shit will hit the fan in the not too distant future.

    Right now, pretty much everything points towards a major failure on behalf of the responsible authorities and/or applicable regulations.

    In this light, your reflexive defense of the powers that be is quite something to watch.

    1
  4. MarkedMan says:

    James, you make good points. But it doesn’t change the larger point. If a 40 year old building had actually been built to code it wouldn’t have come crashing down. To me it just reinforces my impression as Florida being just another slipshod, half-assed state full of schemers and grifters.

    After Hurricane Michael people wondered why a few houses remained standing in a neighborhood while everything else was wiped out. It turns out they were built by Habitat for Humanity. Further investigation showed that the only difference was they followed code on roof retaining hardware. That hardware consists of nails and some sheet metal brackets so it costs a little bit of money and takes a few extra hours to install. But the key thing is that once installed and the roof completed, it is hidden and it cant be verified. It tells you all you need to know about Florida builders that, deep in the heart of hurricane alley, they save a few hundred dollars a job by omitting the things that protect a house from a hurricane.

    10
  5. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: I hastily linked to an article above and it referenced Hurricane Michael instead of what I was thinking of: Hurricane Andrew. But as the article showed, the Habitat housing survival was still a thing nearly twenty years later with Michael. Digging a bit deeper, it appears that Habitat actually beefed up their standards beyond code, to what industry groups recommend for housing built in hurricane prone areas. Florida, at least in 2010, had not updated their code.

    3
  6. charon says:

    @MarkedMan:

    If a 40 year old building had actually been built to code it wouldn’t have come crashing down.

    I don’t know that’s really true, I do not think codes are adequate to handle differential subsidence beneath a building, if that contributed.

    6
  7. Jen says:

    I still want to know what exactly caused the collapse, but this is certainly eye-opening. It makes me wonder how the building would have fared in a hurricane. The nearby construction could have caused just enough vibration to make the ground underneath prone to liquefaction–coupled with the structural damage, it led to a collapse.

    Building codes are certainly part of it, but the real question is, how many other structures in the state are on similarly shaky ground?

    3
  8. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Can the engineers here weigh in on exactly what the report is telling us? I kept seeing references to a leaking pool and damage to that structural system, but I’m not an engineer and the process of events / chain from there to collapse is beyond my ability to grasp.

    2
  9. charon says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Go over to LGM, lots of discussion there.

    2
  10. Stormy Dragon says:

    But Sohn answers his own question. Most people don’t have $80,000 to $200,000 laying around or even the ability to absorb that sort of additional loan hit to stay in their homes.

    If the association is doing it’s job properly they won’t need to. Our association, shortly after it was founded, did an engineering study to predict all the captial expenses that would occur over the life of the association and how much money needed to be set aside every month to be expected to cover all of them.

    Short story is that we have more than two million dollars in a capital reserve fund (in addition to the operating fund) to cover stuff like this. Anything truly unexpected beyond that ought to be covered by insurance.

    4
  11. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @charon:

    I saw that. There were a few posts that touched on it. Most were more flinging of poo and grinding partisan axes.

    I’m having difficulty conceptualizing how a pool deck beside a building causes what looks like (at least to my untrained eye) like failure of the support columns at the base of the central section of the building. Basing that on how that section pancake. (Best I can gather, the middle of the section pancake, and then the outer section came down because of the sudden void beside it where structure had been before). The in between parts (leaking deck >>> building failure) are where I’m drawing a blank. Aren’t those columns sank pretty deep into the Earth? Maybe it’s more in my mind “are pool deck and structural collapse linked, or are they similarly situated but independent symptoms of the same design flaws / deterioration?

    2
  12. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @charon:

    Just saw that a (now missing) resident apparently was on the phone with her husband immediately prior to the collapse and indicated that the pool caved in first, then tremors started. Could this be a case of the leaks or whatever undermining the whole structural support system? Pool deck debris somehow took out some support columns? Definitely feels like they’d have to be linked in some way.

    2
  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @charon: I do not think codes are adequate to handle differential subsidence beneath a building, if that contributed.

    The codes specifically address that and if things are done properly there are not supposed to be any problems. Take note, I say, “not supposed to be”. Things can change over 40 years and it would not surprise me in the least if as Sleeping Dog notes, rising sea levels played a part here. (I read somewhere this AM that this building was settling at a rate of 1-3mm a year and it’s neighbors weren’t) This carpenter who only worked on a few foundations over the decades thinks bad concrete played a larger role but I certainly wouldn’t take my opinion as anything other than under informed speculation.

    1
  14. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    And I should note that more than two million is after we finished spending $1.25 million replacing all the roofs in the complex at around the 30 year mark.

    1
  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Aren’t those columns sank pretty deep into the Earth?

    Yes.

  16. Sleeping Dog says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Given the geology of southern FLA, those columns rest in limestone, which is porous and subject to compression when consistently wet. Thus the concern with rising sea levels in Fla as evidenced by flooded streets well inland during King tides, i.e. the highest natural tides of the year.

    There was a reporting in the Times this AM that the sister building to the one that collapsed, while identical and built a year apart has not sunk as much the other, though it has similar age related structural issues. That is what led me to the supposition that deterioration plus stresses caused by differential sinking of the soil is a significant factor.

    Others have mentioned building codes and construction practices, I’d propose that sea level rise in the Miami area has made those codes and practices obsolete. And likely we don’t know enough about the long term effects of sea level rise in particular geologies to devise new ones.

    6
  17. Stormy Dragon says:

    Don’t worry everyone. I’m sure DeSantis will submit a law to implement the obvious fix for the problems raised by this building collapse: sealing all building inspection reports and legal immunity for all condo associations. /sarc

    6
  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    Looked at in a longer time frame the entire state of Florida is like a sand bar in the Mississippi: now you see it, now you don’t. The state’s like one of those ‘temporary’ quonset huts they build for school overflow that’s still there 30 years later. Florida was never meant to be permanent.

    I read that the people in the adjacent building – same builder, same time frame – are debating whether they should stay. That is not a debate I would have in their place. Kind of think this is a clear case of GTFO.

    5
  19. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    I know a few people who recently moved to Florida, and rave incessantly and tiresomely to me about what a paradise it is. I always wonder if they’re trying to convince me of that–or themselves.

    5
  20. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    Between the (odd) residents, the climate, and the politics, I can’t fathom a place less hospitable to human occupancy.

    8
  21. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    That makes sense (to my non-engineer mind). Thank you. Based on that analysis, you have to wonder how many more similar collapses are waiting in the wings. I’m with Reynolds, I’d be GTFO as quickly as I could go.

    5
  22. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Indeed. That’s why I wonder if these emigres to Florida, having made their bed, are now desperate to have everyone else lie in it.

    Apart from many other things, I don’t understand the appeal of a place where you’ll die of heatstroke if you try going for a walk any time between April and October.

    3
  23. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: I’ve probably been to Florida 15-20 times in my life, mostly on business but once for a few days as a tourist, with small kids. There’s no accounting for taste, but I just don’t get the appeal. Probably the biggest factor is the climate – hot and humid. I’m the type of guy who, once I start sweating, may not stop for an hour even after returning to air conditioned environs. I’m the guy that, when it is hot, walks into a room and immediately checks the location of every air conditioning vent and sits or stands under one of them. There are many, many other things to not like about Florida, but I have to admit that the heat and humidity alone are enough to keep me the hell away from it.

  24. Jen says:

    I’m happiest when it’s dry and in the low 50s to upper 30s (degrees Fahrenheit). I’d be miserable most of the year in Florida. My husband frequently jokes that with climate change, we’re going to end up living in Greenland or Iceland, my retort is always “if they’d take us, I’d move tomorrow.”

    Between the heat, humidity, and politics, Florida is a BIG “no-thank-you” from me.

    RE: GTFO–I’m imagining the condos in the adjacent building are going to be a) hard to sell, and b) even harder to insure.

    3
  25. grumpy realist says:

    One other possibility is that (limestone + salt water + pressure + time = sinkhole). Gravity did the rest.

    Also, it’s quite likely that the higher levels of salt water in the soil had an increasingly corrosive effect. When Soldier Field was recently revamped here in Chicago and brought up to present-day code, the initial inspection showed that the concrete pylons on which the whole structure had been built had rotted away considerably. And that was just with fresh water from Lake Michigan and the chemistry of the existing concrete and rebar.

    3
  26. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. And we’re not even looking at the possibility of any short-cuts the builders may have taken (cheaper concrete, etc.) Heck, they might have built totally in good faith with someone else in the supply line swapping out for counterfeit material…

    1
  27. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jen:

    Oh, without a doubt. It would be a case of take whatever pittance you can get offered before you’re part owner of (and hopefully not a victim of) an enormous pile of debris. The losses will unavoidably be enormous. That ship has sailed.

    5
  28. Gustopher says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Between the (odd) residents, the climate, and the politics, I can’t fathom a place less hospitable to human occupancy.

    Good bagels. Better bagels than much of NYC at this point, since so many of the old bagel makers moved there.

    You can get a better bagel in NYC, if you go to the right spots, but the quality of the random neighborhood bagel shop has plummeted.

    Maybe I’ve just lucked out with my Florida bagels. If so, then the state has literally nothing going for it.

    1
  29. dazedandconfused says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Not without more detail on exactly what the inspector saw. I see no reports that show photos of the conditions, conditions only rather broadly described in the text. I think it highly likely the full report will have some photos but it’s not a sure thing.

    The inspector reported a structural issue, which in engineer-speak implies partial or complete collapse is possible. The structure is what holds things up, after all. “Big news” to structural engineers but perhaps not to laymen. The lawyer for the condo says that it was a big deal wasn’t plainly spelled out, but the condo association’s acting to procure millions to fix it somewhat counters that narrative.

    What I wonder is where was the insurance company? Did they not have any? Hard to imagine property insurance that covers the entire building being blown away by a storm or a fire not covering the building falling down, and thereby essential repairs to prevent that from happening. But I don’t know anything about condo insurance, but it’s a safe bet that if there was an insurance company on the hook for this they wish to hell now they hadm’t denied the claim for repairs that could have prevented it.

    There are so many open questions, including whether or not this was the cause, open that most of the engineers worth listening to will refrain from any public speculation…IMHO.

    1
  30. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    Absolutely. I am not a heat / humidity enjoyer. We took a getaway trip to the SOF for a few days last summer. Wife Unit was in heaven. I quietly wondered how I’d ended up in Hell a little bit early. I have to imagine that Florida is at least as bad, if not worse.

    3
  31. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    Makes sense. I (not being an engineer) mostly just wanted some help understanding what I was seeing. The basics (building came down in this way) make sense, but the why / maybe why is well beyond my knowledge / understanding.

  32. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I think “going to Florida” has become one of those really tedious tropisms akin to “head for the beach.” Going to the beach is supposed to be everyone’s idea of the ultimate vacation. If you don’t love the beach, there has to be something wrong with you. Or un-American. So you end up with people traipsing robotically off to the beach, facing miles-long traffic jams, to get sunburned, sand fly-infested, and exhausted while packed like sardines on a strip of coast, all because the beach is supposed to be the ultimate paradise.

    I hate the fucking beach.

    7
  33. Mister Bluster says:

    @grumpy realist:..When Soldier Field was recently revamped here in Chicago and brought up to present-day code, the initial inspection showed that the concrete pylons on which the whole structure had been built had rotted away considerably. And that was just with fresh water from Lake Michigan and the chemistry of the existing concrete and rebar.

    Water, the Universal Solvent
    Water is called the “universal solvent” because it is capable of dissolving more substances than any other liquid.

    3
  34. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher: I’ve loved NYC bagels for 40 years but now my allegience has shifted to Montréal. NYC bagels have gotten cartoonishly big over the years and are quickly approaching softballs in size. And the size alters the taste. Much doughier.

  35. dazedandconfused says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    RE:
    “I’m having difficulty conceptualizing how a pool deck beside a building causes what looks like (at least to my untrained eye) like failure of the support columns at the base of the central section of the building. Basing that on how that section pancake. (Best I can gather, the middle of the section pancake, and then the outer section came down because of the sudden void beside it where structure had been before). The in between parts (leaking deck >>> building failure) are where I’m drawing a blank. Aren’t those columns sank pretty deep into the Earth? Maybe it’s more in my mind “are pool deck and structural collapse linked, or are they similarly situated but independent symptoms of the same design flaws / deterioration?”

    The key part of the report is water wasn’t running off, it was pooling and thereby leaking through near foundation supports. It’s the same for all our houses, which have gutters and drains which channel streams of roof-runoff away, lest it erode the earth around the foundation’s footings. The foundations on that building were not necessarily deep piles, they may well have been footings. It wasn’t a high-rise.

  36. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    Makes sense. I guess if I have any real blank left, it’s understading this membrane thing that was causing pooling. It was under the pool? My limited understanding of pools has always been dig hole, line with concrete or vinyl, pour deck, enjoy. Having difficulty understanding where this thing they’re discussing would be / what it’s function is. (apologies for all the questions.)

  37. grumpy realist says:

    @Mister Bluster: Oh indeed. I was merely emphasising that considering what fresh water can do, you should expect even more with salt water….

  38. Michael Reynolds says:

    @CSK:

    I hate the fucking beach.

    Brava. Well said. You only left out the filthy bathroom facilities.

    Beaches are beautiful to look at from the balcony of your hotel room while sipping room service cocktails.

    8
  39. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: If it’s a shady balcony.

    3
  40. DrDaveT says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Just saw that a (now missing) resident apparently was on the phone with her husband immediately prior to the collapse and indicated that the pool caved in first, then tremors started. Could this be a case of the leaks or whatever undermining the whole structural support system?

    My wife’s first guess on seeing the footage was “sinkhole”. I haven’t seen anything yet that would confirm or contradict that, but the pool draining first is suggestive.

    1
  41. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @DrDaveT:

    It does make sense. I read the engineer’s report on the building but aside from the really basic stuff I don’t really understand it (engineering to me is akin to witchcraft / science fiction. Really cool to see in action but way above my head to comprehend the “how”). They’ve made it a lot clearer above. Basically left trying to understand where this failing waterproofing (?) was / how it all was put together & works. Can’t see it in my head.

  42. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Quite so. Otherwise…there is nothing quite so illustrative of the agonies people will endure in order to delude themselves that they’re HAVING A GREAT TIME than what they suffer to get to the beach and remain there for an afternoon.

    When Sartre said “Hell is other people,” he must have been to Asbury Park or Coney Island. And by those I mean the beaches.

    4
  43. flat earth luddite says:

    I’m with Reynolds, I’d be GTFO as quickly as I could go.

    As far as I can tell, this is a first.

    What’s even more shocking to me is that I’m in complete agreement with both of you.

    4
  44. Stormy Dragon says:

    @CSK:

    When Sartre said “Hell is other people,” he must have been to Asbury Park or Coney Island. And by those I mean the beaches.

    Crowding is a whole other problem with beaches. Whatever niceness the beach would have if it were sparsely occupied is further ruined by the fact it’s invariably full to overflowing so you end up just so crammed together you can’t really do anything other than just stand around.

    2
  45. Mimai says:

    Feel the need to present some counterpoints to the “FL sucks bigly and should sink” perspective.

    -beautiful natural springs in north central and central area
    -great fishing
    -Ocala National Forest
    -Everglades National Park
    -Gulf Coast beaches
    -delicious seafood (eg, gulf shrimp, grouper, stone crab, appalachicola oysters)
    -diverse regional and microregional cultures
    -beaches at night are magic places…make you feel small in the best way
    -native wildlife (eg, manatee, bottlenose dolphin, sea turtle, black bear, pelican, bobcat, panther)

    Bonus: you can buy a high-end mattress from an OTB regular.

    What’s not to love!

    9
  46. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Like I remember back in the 80s having fun going to the beach and “boogie boarding”, but over time we had to stop because there just wasn’t enough room any more to do it without crashing into people.

  47. JKB says:

    It is hard to tell when something will collapse, even as you see the damage that means the structure is weakening.

    Consider the I-40 Hernado de Soto bridge across the Mississippi. When the inspecting engineers saw the crack, the design was such that the bridge should of already collapsed as the tension member had failed. The stresses had obviously been transferred to somewhere not designed for them. The engineers there, called 911 and demanded the bridge be shutdown ASAP. Significant plates had to be installed just to deem the bridge safe enough for inspecting engineers to be on it.

    And that was an obvious failure of a major structural element. The crumbling of concrete is a sign, but not an alarm, but delay in making repairs changes things.

    1
  48. dazedandconfused says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    He’s not referencing the pool itself at all, actually.

    Building people tend to refer to levels. “Pool deck” is a highly likely label for the plan page which lays out the pool and the entire exterior deck the pool was on, right up to the garage he referred to, which was in the center where the first section appeared to collapse. Originally the entire level would’ve been laid with a slight slope to prevent water from pooling on it, so his report that water was pooling at the garage entrance is significant. Indicates some sinking had taken place there.

    Can’t help with the references to a membrane, but the key thing is that he was convinced that water was getting at the column foundations at the entry to the garage.

  49. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    Light bulb, thank you very much. That makes sense. He was talking about some sort of failing waterproofing on page 7 of his report and I could not for the life of me visualize how all of that fit together, especially since the pool itself appears to have been some distance away from building (located at the far edge of the property across a deck away from the building). I couldn’t make it make sense in my head.

    I was working with this:

    However, the waterproofing below the Pool Deck & Entrance Drive as well as all of the planter waterproofing is beyond it useful life and therefore must all be completely removed and replaced. The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas.

    and couldn’t see in my head where this concrete structural slab was / what it did. Seemed like it was saying earth >> slab >> waterproofing >> deck / entrance drive, but I legit have no idea if that’s even close to accurate. He’s seems to be saying replace this waterproofing ASAP, so I’m guessing (?) that the water was seeping through it and attacking the concrete slab underneath? My brain is fried. Don’t know how you guys do this, but I’m glad that you do. Thank you for helping me understand.

    1
  50. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “That is not a debate I would have in their place. Kind of think this is a clear case of GTFO.”

    I get that and find it hard to disagree… but in a lot of cases the residents are in their 70s, they’ve been there for decades… and who knows what kind of assets they have beside the condo, which is now unsellable? If they GTFO, where do they GTFO to?

    My mother learned a couple years back that the house she’s been living in since 1971, which is built down a Berkeley hill and has multiple decks with 180 degree views over the Bay, needed to have caissons dug dozens of feet down in order to protect against earthquakes, which would mean not only hundreds of thousands of dollars but months or even years of construction. At first she figured she’d sell the house — caissons not really a problem, because anyone who buys this property is going to knock down the structure and put up something bigger and grander to match its current lot value — and move somewhere else. But the very thought depressed the hell out of her, and she decided she’d rather take the chance. She was already in her 90s, she wanted to keep enjoying her life as she has it, and if that meant gambling disaster in a big earthquake, she’d take the bet…

    4
  51. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: I feel you man! When I was living in Korea, the best apartment I ever had was one with a timed operation aircon. I’d get home, take a shower to rinse the sweat and humidity off and start the aircon just before I went to bed (I usually stayed out either at my office or someplace else until I was ready to go to sleep) setting it to turn off in an hour or two. The unit blew directly onto my bed, and once I was asleep, I didn’t get bothered much about the temperature of the room (the moving air was the comfort issue, not room temperature, for me). Very economical and about as eco friendly as aircon is likely to be.

  52. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @dazedandconfused: Two things come to mind for me–and for the record neither a lawyer nor an insurance adjuster, just a rando cracker–first is does the study that, IIRC, showed that the pool was leaking create a responsibility to mitigate “NOW” as opposed to “when the next crop of roundtoits ripens?” Second, if there is a sinkhole, does it constitute a natural hazard that is not coverable in the same way as “acts of God?”

  53. dazedandconfused says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Well, I feel like a know it all today! For the record I’m not an engineer, just someone who has to supply the materials the engineers specify or insinuate in plan notes.

    An Underslap membranes under the garage floor is to be expected. Those membranes are to keep water vapor/moisture from seeping up though, not down. I can imagine he wanted to get it on record that he noticed the membrane wasn’t holding water. I must also only imagine he did so to explain the reason why, if he is claiming water is pooling there, nobody was seeing a pool.

    I be guessin’

  54. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    Makes sense. Engineer or not, you know a great deal more about this than I do and you’ve helped me understand it, so thank you. Is appreciated.

    My attorney’s mind saw “major structural damage”, and it seemed to me that for an engineer to use those specific words, something was going very, very wrong. Just couldn’t grasp what 🙂

  55. dazedandconfused says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: My favorite reply to a report of leakage: Depends. Certainly not all leakage requires immediate action. I suspect if the inspector had felt the building was no longer safe, when he inspected it in 2018, to occupy he would have red-tagged (GTFO everybody) it. There’s some grey there.

    Can’t help with the insurance question.

  56. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    @CSK:

    The secret is to live at the beach, but away from the inevitable Coney Island type beach center and close enough to be a 10-15 walk to the water. Then you only go down before 10 am or after 5.

    It was 90 degrees this afternoon, no way I was going to the beach, but it was very pleasant at 7 AM.

  57. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    You must be close to Hampton or Rye Beaches. At the moment (I’m not at home) I’m about a mile–if that–from Salisbury Beach.

  58. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mimai:-beautiful natural springs in north central and central area–Washington state has the same, not necessarily limited to two areas
    -great fishing–deep sea fishing at Ilwaco, Long Beach, (WA), and Sequim.
    -Ocala National Forest–Mt. Rainer National Park and Snoqualmie National Forest (among others)
    -Everglades National Park–Don’t have a swamp, but the Olympic Rain Forest is pretty cool and you don’t worry about getting eaten by an alligator (or is that a crocodile?)
    -Gulf Coast beaches–we have beaches and the Oregon Coast near Cannon Beach is a famous stormwatching/whale watching center–and we have razor clams on our beaches(!!!)
    -delicious seafood (eg, gulf shrimp, grouper, stone crab, appalachicola oysters)–5 words: Dungeness Crab and Olympia oysters (and salmon, steelhead, and Quilcene oysters are pretty good, too,)
    -diverse regional and microregional cultures–you make it sound like the rest of the world is living on the moon; get off your high horse
    -beaches at night are magic places…make you feel small in the best way–and this only happens in Florida? (see previous)
    -native wildlife (eg, manatee, bottlenose dolphin, sea turtle, black bear, pelican, bobcat, panther)–I’m not a wildlife guy but if I were, those attractions would be enough to trigger a visit for a day or 3, good point

    Bonus: you can buy a high-end mattress from an OTB regular.–That I can’t match! But I don’t need a mattress (high or low end either way), either.

    As always, YMMV and to each his or her own. Living in Korea for 8 years was enough experience with unseasonably hot weather (and monsoons during unseasonably hot weather) to do me, thanks. Florida scores a “meh…” for me. (And where I live now is already too Red Statey.)

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  59. Stormy Dragon says:

    @wr:

    She was already in her 90s, she wanted to keep enjoying her life as she has it, and if that meant gambling disaster in a big earthquake, she’d take the bet…

    It’s easy to say that when the disaster is in the future (and you secretly know it will never happen to you because you’re a good person and good people don’t die in building collapses).

    Do you think there’s many people who knew someone living at Surfside going, “well, grandma always said she’d rather take the risk then have to move to to a smaller home, so I’m glad she got to die crushed under tons of concrete the way she wanted instead of continuing to live another 10 years at a less fancy apartment” today?

  60. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @wr: At 90, not an unreasonable decision. Hope she gets to enjoy the view for the duration.

    1
  61. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: To be honest with you, I’m probably the only person that I know who would say anything like that. Then again, both my parents had Alzheimer’s Dementia when they shuffled of this mortal coil. I was content with whatever made them happy enough (and grateful that my mom, at least, didn’t suffer for several years before dying).

    1
  62. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    native wildlife (eg, manatee, bottlenose dolphin, sea turtle, black bear, pelican, bobcat, panther)–I’m not a wildlife guy but if I were, those attractions would be enough to trigger a visit for a day or 3, good point

    The PNW has bobcats. And there was a bear wandering through Seattle a few years ago.

    No manatees, pelicans or the rest, but we do have… moss.

    Surely moss counts for something. I hope the current heat wave (toasty, by the way) doesn’t hurt our moss too much.

    3
  63. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: Good point! I’d completely forgotten about moss. An endangered species if ever there was one. Especially considering how much homeowners spend killing it on their roofs and siding. Under appreciated fer shur.

    1
  64. wr says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “It’s easy to say that when the disaster is in the future (and you secretly know it will never happen to you because you’re a good person and good people don’t die in building collapses).”

    I don’t think my mother is betting on winning because she “knows she ‘s a good person.” I think she’s figuring she’s been there fifty years and multiple earthquakes. And knowing that she’s just as likely to be taken out by a fire…

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  65. Mimai says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Oh, I am very familiar with the PNW. And all of those things you listed are indeed great. Fantastic even! And you didn’t even mention the wine country.

    I don’t have a horse, much less a high one, to get off of……which reminds me that I forgot to mention that Ocala FL is a horse mecca. My only point was to note that FL is not all warts. Indeed, there are some really lovely things. And warts too.

  66. Mimai says:

    @Gustopher:

    I remember when there was a bobcat lose in Discovery Park. The rangers couldn’t trap it. So they “called” some dude living off the grid at the base of Mt. Rainier. He brought his Karelian Bear Dog, and they trapped that bobcat in one night!

  67. Stormy Dragon says:

    @wr:

    I don’t think my mother is betting on winning because she “knows she ‘s a good person.”

    Not consciously, but nearly every one does so subconsciously, which is part of why people are notoriously bad at making contingency decisions.

  68. de stijl says:

    I’ve lived in high rises for roughly a third of my life.

    I moved out of the last because the HOA hiked the dues to $650 a month.

    That is $650×12 per year on top of your mortgage if you did not pay cash. On a two bedroom 1250 sq. foot unit. There is no conceivable way I got no where anywhere near to passively benefitting from that $650 per month by a full factor if not two. I accrued some passive benefit on heating and cooling costs based on ambient effect from adjacent units and thick walls.

    I still paid for cable, internet, electricity, gas. No freebies included. Ludicrous. They cleaned the sidewalks when it snowed and maintained the public space and exercise room and pool. Paid for someone to man the office. My guess is that the were trying to finance a very poorly chosen debt come due.

    14 units per floor × 25 floors. About half were 1 bedroom roughly 950 square feet.

    I really do miss the view. And easy access to two friends. For a few years being able to walk to work in 12 minutes. I miss the view a lot. I miss the downtown location. No traffic noise. Almost zero ambient noise at all thanks to thick walls and 11 floors up. The moon reflecting off the river at night.

  69. de stijl says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    The building I moved into in comment above was next to a river that has the possibilty of flooding sometimes disastrously. Has done so repeatedly.

    It has three floors of underground parking.

    In 1995, I was informed, B3 was inundated totally and B2 had vehicles floating in six feet of flood water.

    I had to sign a waiver to move in as a purchase condition about potential flood damage to my vehicle. Almost a decade after the so called flood of the century event.

    Funny thing is that the local tax authority treated my garage space as taxable property. They valued that parking slot at $12,000 taxable dollars. An 8×12 foot slot in a dark dank garage two floors down below surface.

    If you lose verticality you topple over. But horizontal pancaking means structural failure at the top likely due to water damage that compounded due to poor / shoddy initial construction.

    I am not a structural engineer.

  70. EddieInCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds: @CSK:

    Michael Reynolds says:
    Sunday, 27 June 2021 at 14:13

    @CSK:

    I hate the fucking beach.

    Beaches are beautiful to look at from the balcony of your hotel room while sipping room service cocktails.

    Gotta disagree. (Asshole Alert!!!!) I’m writing this from an oceanfront condo in Kailua-Kona after a day at Green Sand Beach.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=green+sand+beach+hawaii&client=firefox-b-1-d&sxsrf=ALeKk03aEtcu8Bxjt98lhik83WkXc_hsxg:1624863344895&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiniezT37nxAhUD6J4KHTjgCiAQ_AUoAXoECAEQBA&biw=1440&bih=762

  71. de stijl says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Dude, I envy you.

    What makes green sand? Very cool.

  72. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    first is does the study that, IIRC, showed that the pool was leaking create a responsibility to mitigate “NOW” as opposed to “when the next crop of roundtoits ripens?

    I think I understand the underlying focus of the question, and best answer is: it depends on foreseeability. The problem here is that the condo directors are basically immunized from liability in their individual capacity by Florida statute. You’d need to prevail to a standard well beyond simple negligence (i.e. reckless conduct, bad faith / malicious purpose) to get anywhere near them as individuals. You can sue the condo association, but with that approach, at the end of the day, you’re essentially suing yourself and your neighbors, so it comes down to trying to grab a bigger share of the insurance proceeds, if any. In this case, the association was advised of the problems and took / was in the process of taking action to address them (they retained a professional engineer to formulate a remediation plan, and that plan was being executed), so it will be a hard lift.

    Of note, the first lawsuit against the condo association was filed less than 24 hours after the collapse by a unit owner who wasn’t even in the building at the time. I’d characterize that, and the ambulance chaser who’s handling the matter (and trying to turn it into a class action) as despicable. Sometimes members of my profession are an embarrassment.

    Second, if there is a sinkhole, does it constitute a natural hazard that is not coverable in the same way as “acts of God?”

    Florida requires insurers to cover what the statutes term “catastrophic ground movement”. Without getting into the technicalities, the thing to takeaway from that term is abrupt collapse of the groundcover. Simple version: it just suddenly collapsed without any prior warning. This building appears to have been sinking for some time and the association was aware of it / had taken action to address it. Catastrophic ground movement coverage wouldn’t be applicable. Insureds have the option, but not the responsibility, to purchase a separate sinkhole policy which would potentially pay out in this scenario, but whether that association had purchased one is unknown.

    That having been said, I’m seeing several statements from officials in Florida that no sinkhole occurred. How competent they are to make that determination is obviously an unanswered question. It would come down to 1) whether the secondary policy was purchased at all and 2) the usual battle of the competing experts.

    All of that is with respect to the building and common areas themselves. Obviously the contents of the individual units / personal property and in some cases fixtures would be covered by the individual condo / renter policies maintained by each resident.

  73. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Be glad you aren’t these folks – closed on a $710k condo in that building 8 days before it collapsed.

  74. CSK says:

    @EddieInCA:
    Not quite your typical beach.

  75. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @EddieInCA: Yeah. That was nice. Not nice enough to go to Kona for a week, but I’m not the beach type. Have a restful time way and good depressurizing.

  76. EddieInCA says:

    @de stijl:

    What makes green sand? Very cool.

    It’s a semi-precious stone called Olivine, which is plentiful in four areas of the world. They get broken down by the waves and deposited on the shore. It’s really green. There are four green sand beaches in the world. I’ve been to three of them, Hawaii, Norway, and Guam, and am going to the fourth next January in the Galapagos.

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  77. de stijl says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    The first complainant lost their home. Your characterization of that person and their attorney is rough and wrong.

    I do not know of a waiting line where the most injured is awarded first dibs and everybody else waits. You know better than that nonsense bs.

  78. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @de stijl:

    The first complainant lost their home. Your characterization of that person and their attorney is rough and wrong.

    The first complainant is suing for $5 million over the loss of a condo worth about 13% of that figure. He wasn’t injured. He wasn’t even home at the time. He filed suit less than 24 hours after it happened, while his neighbors are still being dug out of the debris that used to be their homes. You’ll have to do a little better, sorry. It’s despicable.

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  79. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    I was able to obtain and (to the best of my ability) review the plans. The parking garage extended underneath the pool deck area essentially up to the edge of the actual pool (with space allowance for pool mechanical areas). What they were referring to was waterproofing between the pool deck paving materials and the underlying concrete slab (which also formed the ceiling of the parking garage). As best as I can tell, its function was to prevent water from above from reaching and deteriorating the underlying structure.

  80. keef says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    And this comment takes the thread. So much rank speculation going on. (Here and at LGM) A competent engineer – hell, just a competent analyst – would hold judgment until much more evidence is uncovered.

  81. dazedandconfused says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    That clears up the question in my mind as to why they called it a “deck”. Didn’t know there was an underground parking garage. As you can see without knowledge of the building or a set of plans it’s impossible to draw conclusions from the inspector’s report. Even then one only knows what the inspector saw, and what needs to be determined is what failed. Everybody needs to sit tight and wait for the investigation to be completed, though that probably will take best part of a year.

  82. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    Oh absolutely. Even with the plans, my understanding of all of this is minimal, at best. I get the basics, and they helped me kind of “see” what was being talked about, but that’s about as far as I expect to be able to go. I’ll never really understand like an engineer or builder will. I’ll have to wait for them to tell us what went wrong and why.