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Not Enough Rebar?

06/27/2021 10:26 AM

Regarding the tragic collapse of the apartments in Florida,I noticed a scarcity of rebar in the broken concrete;the upper floor patio has none visible.

The building had been settling slowly for many years,but not evenly.Un-reinforced concrete will fail explosively after it exceeds it's limit.

This may be what happened here,but there is limited information available,and I understand it is too early to determine a cause,I am just speculating on a very limited amount of info.I am sure I missed a lot.

Does anyone else see sufficient rebar in the concrete?

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#1

Re: not enough rebar?

06/27/2021 11:19 AM

Concrete is strong in compression, steel in tension. Once the concrete cracks, salt air attacks the steel which fails, causing the concrete in tension to separate. This is a problem on bridges in cold climates where roads are deiced, but I suppose in warm seaside locations, the ocean spray could accomplish the same thing.

It's also possible that the builder cut some corners and the inspectors looked the other way...

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#43
In reply to #1

Re: not enough rebar?

06/29/2021 5:33 PM

I haven't seen anything written about it, but maybe it should be obvious... Did anybody try calling the cell phones of the missing, starting with the upper floors?

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#44
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Re: not enough rebar?

06/29/2021 7:02 PM

Interesting thought, although I suspect that those layers of concrete with rebar act much like a Faraday Cage, much as my house with foil-lined insulation does.

And of course by now the batteries are all dead.

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#90
In reply to #1

Re: not enough rebar?

07/09/2021 9:18 PM

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#2

Re: not enough rebar?

06/27/2021 2:06 PM

The problem is noted in the inspection reports....whether that is responsible for the collapse, or it was a series of failures, remains to be seen....a $15 million repair needed sounds rather substantial...

click on "listen to article"

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/miami-beach/article252385083.html

https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-pavement-transportation-technology/sites/ca.centre-pavement-transportation-technology/files/uploads/files/Carlos_Videla_Seminar.pdf

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#4
In reply to #2

Re: not enough rebar?

06/27/2021 5:54 PM

IMHO:

I don't see any rebar,rusted or otherwise, in the top floors.Plenty of conduits,water pipes,etc from each apartment,but no rebar.

I presume there is none in the lower floors either.

Slow-mo shows the collapse started at the bottom.

They could have used fiberglass reinforced concrete,but still I think in a critical job such as this,rebar should have been required,however I do not know the local building codes.

The rebar aalso has to be positioned properly in the concrete,depending on

the direction of the anticipated load.

As I stated,the building had been settling unevenly over the years,and when the torque exceeded the tensile strength of the concrete,it failed catastrophically.

The corners had the most load concentration and probably were settling more than the rest,creating an unsustainable load on the unreinforced concrete.

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#5
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Re: not enough rebar?

06/27/2021 8:19 PM

It does look like there is rebar around the support columns...

...although it does look like the placement was too near the surface....

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#8
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Re: not enough rebar?

06/27/2021 11:55 PM

In photo #1 of this pair, I see the rebar still has hooks on the ends, with a couple of chunks of concrete still attached, so the concrete cracked away without significantly pulling on the rebar. That tells me it is either poor quality concrete, or significantly degraded.

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#13
In reply to #8

Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 4:16 AM

Anybody who has tried to break up 40 year old concrete knows that concrete gets harder with age, even exposed to water....the rebar does not look badly rusted, so I don't think moisture is the problem...The quality of the concrete seems to be a contributing factor...

Watching the building as it collapses looks like a demolition...in a demolition all the supporting structures are drilled and explosive charges imbedded...so it looks like the infrastructure is just collapsing under its own weight...It looks like a number of column supports and/or floor/ceiling, under the housing located in the parking area garage, collapsed, and this caused a chain reaction of an already crumbling structure....

There is no reason that the second section should have collapsed, other than the vibrations generated by the first section collapse, which shows how close to collapse both structures were....

I actually lived in a 12 story condo on the beach for several years, which was also built in the 80's, by the same construction methods....seems like the concrete was tested periodically, and the patios were renovated while I was living there...It took over a year...they went around with hammers tapping on the concrete listening for hollow sounds, then took an air hammer and busted out the section down to expose the rebar and coated everything and filled it back in, then all the patios were epoxied and surfaced after all the railings were replaced...they did this in the elevator shafts as well...the building was being constantly worked on....

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#14
In reply to #13

Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 4:59 AM

Funny, but my first though was that it actually looked like a controlled demolition - but it clearly wasn't. Your comment "...they went around with hammers tapping on the concrete listening for hollow sounds..." hmm, I would offer a correction, based on experience, they were probably using a Schmidt hammer, or a rebound hammer, if you will, or concrete hammer test. In the US the ASTM C805 / C805M - 18 - Standard Test Method for Rebound Number of Hardened Concrete read with ACI 228.1R4 or BS EN 13791 - we tend to follow the AS/NZ Standards or BS EN and Eurocode's here. The 2018 report mentions none of this

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#17
In reply to #14

Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 7:07 AM

No they weren't Schmidt hammers, I was watching...You could hear when they hit a hollow spot clearly...

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#18
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Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 7:20 AM

Obviously hold contractors in pretty low esteem

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#19
In reply to #14

Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 7:30 AM

There are many methods to test concrete: a scratch test,which looks like a kitched-aid mixer,which oscillates and rotates a carbide (or other) tool against the concrete,and is allowed to run for hours,or days in some cases.

The downward pressure is precisely determined and controlled,as well as RPM.

The depth of the scratch patter is measure to determine the hardness and wear resistance.

The placement of the rebar can be determined magnetically.

A simple magnet on a string can detect rebar,and can be used for a quick test,but the more sophisticated machines can determine dept also.

These methods have been available since at least the '70's,so no excuse for them not to have been used on buildings,especially apartment buildings.

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#16
In reply to #13

Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 6:45 AM

The amount of lime and the proper aggregate sizes determines the quality of the concrete,as well as the age,and whether the concrete was properly cured.

I saw a contractor struggle with a 100+ year old smokestack foundation that had been covered with fill.Jack hammers on track hoes merely bounced around on top of it,barely a dent.After all other attempts failed,a demolition expert was call in,and he used a diamond bit to drill holes in precise locations.

They covered it with about 8 feet of dirt,and when the explosions detonated,there was not even a sound.I thought the detonators had failed,but not so.

When they removed the dirt, only a little smoke wafted up from below, but the foundation had been split into 4 pieces.It took 2 D8's to push each piece onto a flat bed trailer.

They had to dig a trench for the flat bed to back into,because they could not be lifted.

The demo guy said there was a lot of lime and quartz in the concrete that made it very hard to drill or scratch.He also stated,as you did,that concrete gets harder over time,especially if kept wet or moist.

They did not cut corners 100 years ago and the contractors and workers had very high ethics.

Sad to see that such quality is becoming an endangered species.

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#23
In reply to #16

Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 12:25 PM

Poor construction by disreputable builders has happened for millennia. Those structures didn't last to see your 100-year benchmark, too.

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#30
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Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 6:12 PM

My wife and I have had a co-op on the beach up in Broward since the 1980's. Our co-op was built in the 1960's. The impact of salt air that near the beach is horrible on any steel components (even many Stainless steels) as well as electrical contacts. Our maintenance people are continually tapping on the concrete, checking for hollow sounds to determine when and where rebar needs to be epoxied and resurfaced.

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#31
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Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 6:54 PM

And people seem to like the idea of putting wind turbines out in the ocean.

I have made a career out of putting defense equipment into the ocean. It's hard (and expensive) to make it last. The ocean is a harsh mistress.

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#72
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Re: not enough rebar?

07/02/2021 7:00 PM

In a physical metallurgy course I had in high school. I can’t recall the particulars, but the Navy once made a pier out of stainless somewhere on the east coast. Within 2 years, they had to tear it out.

The incident was basically used as a teaching tool, like the Tacoma Narrows bridge (Galloping birdie) or the Hyatt Regency Crosswalk callapse in Kansas City.

since speculation is out there,... it’ll probably be a number of problems that affect the integrity of the building.

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#71
In reply to #13

Re: not enough rebar?

07/02/2021 6:53 PM

Unless the contractor didn’t used the correct cement/aggregate mix. But this is all speculation at this time

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#22
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Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 10:36 AM

Was fiberglass reinforced concrete around 40 years ago? I thought it took a while to develop glass which could withstand the high pH of cement/concrete.

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#91
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Re: not enough rebar?

07/10/2021 12:02 AM

"...a $15 million repair needed sounds rather substantial..." yes but a strange number. The consultants original estimate was $9m ... the management came up with $15m ...give or take a bit a 167% rise ...or was the original so badly wrong? Why - 60+% inflation over 2.5 years?
I look forward the seeing the coroners/inquiry's findings.

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#3

Re: not enough rebar?

06/27/2021 5:48 PM

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#6

Re: not enough rebar?

06/27/2021 9:44 PM

I don't know about that time period but most of what I see going up now has "post tensioned slabs" https://www.concretenetwork.com/post-tension/basics.html. I don't actually know but I would guess that they have much less rebar in them than you would guess.

You can see in the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=In697MamSKE that the central part of the building had a failure that caused a section of roof/floor break, fall onto a lower floor, break it, and the breaking and pulling caused a very chaotic rubble pile as everything breaks and comes down.

You can also see in the video that after much of the central part of the building came down the eastern part of the building had its supports broken out and the eastern part of the building pancaked down in somewhat unbroken layers.

I can't find the shot again but there are photographs on the internet showing the eastern part of the building down in somewhat uniform and somewhat unbroken layers with each layer shifted a little more to the south as you progress up the pile. Thus, the southern lower supports were the first to fail and that failure was caused by the central part of the building falling.

There are reports that there were crews on the roof in previous days working on significant structural problems caused by water leakage. I would guess that to fix structural steel you would have to remove material to open up the area where structural steel needs repair. There is no way for internet story reading me to know what caused the building to fall but this sure seems like a smoking gun.

Modern tall buildings don't have enough strength for the remainder to stay up if they have an area with a significant failure. Thus, they don't look like they have enough rebar. They will also never find me in one as a permanent resident.

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#7

Re: not enough rebar?

06/27/2021 11:07 PM

Once the site is cleared of rubble, a close, deep inspection of the sunken foundation piers will disclose their number, their layout, their cross-section, their depth and of course their reinforcement.

A comparison with the specification values and a modern assessment of that specification must follow.

These piers are the primary source of the settlement in sand which has stressed all the above-ground materials.

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#9

Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 12:27 AM

It seems to me that the clue is in the sentence, "The building had been settling slowly for many years,but not evenly." Concrete is strong in compression but readily fails in tension. Although rebar holds the concrete in compression, the "uneven settling" would likely subject regions of concrete to tension which apparently failed.

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#10
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Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 12:32 AM

The engineering report of 2018 indicated severe salt-water intrusion causing significant degrading of the concrete in the lower levels...

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#24
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Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 12:31 PM

There is also the possibility that a sinkhole developed under this condo.

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#25
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Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 1:59 PM

Could be, but anecdotally, I've never seen sinkhole "stories" in Florida near the beaches. Solar Eagle would have a closer perspective on the issue.

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#26
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Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 2:12 PM

According to one insurance company report, the geology for the entire region of Miami is bare or thinly covered limestone.

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#27
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Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 4:00 PM

Recent story just reported that a victim called her husband at 1:30 AM to report about noises. He was away up in DC. She was standing on a 4th floor balcony and told him that the swimming pool had dropped down into a sinkhole. He then lost the connection. Another story said that it appeared that 'the collapse started at the bottom' which would also indicate the possibility of a sinkhole.

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#29
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Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 4:52 PM

That "sinkhole" may well have been the parking garage of the facility.

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#32
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Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 8:04 PM

If a sinkhole opened up under the building, I suspect it would collapse whether it was in good or bad condition.

I'm wondering if ground penetrating radar could be used to detect underground voids under buildings before they become sink holes in locations like Florida.

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#33
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Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 9:53 PM

Yes, if a sinkhole is the origin of this disaster then the building condition and maintenance are irrelevant.

At the Wikipedia entry for sinkholes, I found this critical sentence:

Sinkholes are common where the rock below the land surface is limestone or other carbonate rock, salt beds, or in other soluble rocks, such as gypsum,[12] that can be dissolved naturally by circulating groundwater.

I like your suggestion of ground-penetrating radar to look for voids. Building owners probably didn't want to know if there was a hole below before this disaster.

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#34
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Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 10:25 PM

Well I've lived in Florida for most of my life, and I've never seen a sinkhole....

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#37
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Re: not enough rebar?

06/29/2021 8:41 AM

That is the most solipsistic thing you have ever said here.

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#40
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Re: not enough rebar?

06/29/2021 2:27 PM

It was merely an honest observation... personal observation adds context and scope to the conversation....it was not egocentric in any way....

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#38
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Re: not enough rebar?

06/29/2021 8:49 AM

Sinkholes are a very rare phenomenon but so are multi-story buildings collapsing. I proffered this scenario only to try and keep people open-minded about how this disaster happened. Identifying the actual cause of this disaster won't happen until the entire debris pile is cleared and studied.

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#11

Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 1:07 AM

Actually, how about Fatigue caused by location and exasperated by construction.

You have salt air. Hurricane and aircraft stresses as well.. Cracks that have been patched but still let the salt in..

Add the fact construction is never quick so rebar gets some rust started before getting into concrete.

Recent vibrations from nearby construction probably hastened the job that nature started. Other building being to the south by 1/4 mile may actually have it away from the flight path further...

But most newer construction has gone up a size on all rebar.. as well. No more 3/8 with 1/4 wire stirrups.. closer spacing.. and many newer contractors adding gfrc as well..

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#12

Re: not enough rebar?

06/28/2021 1:32 AM

It is way to early to make any GUESS's.
Time to get survivors and recover the dead and THEN do an autopsy on them and the building.
As for the re-bar theory, until someone does scans, measurements and so on, and gets their hands on the original drawings - of 40+ years ago - any presumption is gum flapping.

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#15

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/28/2021 6:04 AM

Sadly,the ultimate cause,in all such situations is friction;A greedy wallet rubbing against a rigid time table and flexible ethics, in all directions.

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#20

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/28/2021 9:22 AM

This is a tragic event. Thoughts and prayers to the families, friends and first responders impacted with this collapse. Based on what is known so far (little), it will be critical to understand a 5-why investigation of what happened.

My other thought is that based on the final cause, how many other high rise, oceanfront buildings have similar issues. Personally, it sure makes me think of renting rooms for vacation in low rise buildings.

Again, thoughts to those impacted.

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#28
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Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/28/2021 4:10 PM

You can't hide from the grim reaper....If anything this shows the quality of construction and maintenance in that only one building has failed, one out of how many? Too many to count....

"In fact, Florida has a total of thirty-seven buildings that reach or exceed a height of 550 feet. While a majority of these towers were built in Miami, you can also find some in Tampa and Jacksonville.Sep 18, 2019"

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#21

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/28/2021 10:03 AM

What I see is a totally inadequate response to a structural engineering report, 2018, that comes just short of a condemnation.

Why? (insert your favorite rebar, concrete add-mix, substrate stability, salt air weathering or whatever cause here).

I really don't care. If my structural engineer(s) tells me one of my mega-sculptures is an accident/ failure waiting to happen I don't screw around hemming and hawing about causalities, timeframe and the dollars to rectify; I fix the issue(s). I certainly don't do what the then City of Surfside's building inspector verifiably did with the building's residential committee, re: homeowners association, telling them they live(d) in a good and safe building with minor issues that should be addressed.

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#35

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/29/2021 12:57 AM

This guy has a lot of information and building plans, pictures, and some interesting info we haven't heard or seen yet....

Other building residents in the area are starting to get panicky...

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#39
In reply to #35

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/29/2021 10:52 AM

SE: Thanks for finding those videos with significant information. Flooding in the parking garage probably caused damage to the columns which hold the whole building up. Plus, it was said that they had problems pumping the water out, but it went away anyway. To me, that means concerns about washout of the soil under the building. In addition, the building is probably sitting on a forest of pilings; were they damaged by all this water? The following is pure conjecture! Maybe it was specified that the piling be made from weathering steel under the false statement that "it doesn't rust." When used where there are wet & dry cycles, a coating does form that prevents further rusting. However, as I learned many years ago when working on high tension poles, when weathering steel is continuously wet, it will rust like ordinary steel. Probably the piling was continuously wet; but what type of steel was it made from? Was the piling filled with concrete after being placed?

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#41
In reply to #39

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/29/2021 2:56 PM

Yes it seems pretty clear that the issue was lack of maintenance through renovation and repair, that was pointed out and identified over the past few years, but not addressed in a timely fashion....The building manager is the most important position in a condo building, keeping things in good working order is a real battle, and a full time job....you need qualified personnel doing the repairs and when needed you must not hesitate to call in the big guns....Waiting till the last minute to do repairs on a commercial building is not a sound strategy....This requires a condo board that facilitates the building managers' recommendations, so that things get done properly and on schedule....

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#66
In reply to #35

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/30/2021 9:23 PM

Thanks. Some real information here.

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#36

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/29/2021 2:06 AM

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#42

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/29/2021 4:44 PM

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#45

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/29/2021 10:22 PM

Not enough oversight. Government or otherwise.

Texas can't generate power because of corruption. Florida can't keep its older buildings safe for the same reasons. We're drilling for oil like there's no tomorrow. In pristine National Forests and off-shore wells.

Let's see. Who was in charge when this all started? Does it really matter, now.

I'm sure that SE will set me straight about how the "other side' is all to blame.

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#46
In reply to #45

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/30/2021 12:48 AM

Shirley you can't be serious....

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#53
In reply to #46

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/30/2021 5:55 AM

He said he surely was serious,and to stop calling him Shirley!

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#47

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/30/2021 1:11 AM

Oh man, this guy is toast....

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#48

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/30/2021 1:20 AM

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#49

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/30/2021 1:59 AM

Let the finger pointing begin....

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#50

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/30/2021 4:51 AM

Sadly,the final analysis will boil down to the reason in #15.

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#52
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Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/30/2021 5:27 AM

Seriously do you think anybody living in these condos had any belief that the building was about to collapse? Clearly the problem was that people were led to believe that the building was safe....that has nothing to do with money, that is incompetent management....

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#54
In reply to #52

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/30/2021 7:10 AM

Of course the occupants did not know,but management did,and it was too expensive($$$$$$) to take action to do a PROPER repair.

Loss of rental income,expensive repair costs,etc.

Management's focus was on $$$

Surely,SE,you can see the connection,you are an intelligent person.

That is why I think management should live in the outer walls of the buildings that they manage.

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#55
In reply to #54

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/30/2021 7:43 AM

I won't be surprised to find out that the earlier maintenance for this building was substandard if not deferred and the building management pocketed the maintenance fees or directed it to their corrupt cronies. A need for a fifteen-million-dollar repair doesn't happen overnight.

Still, everything reported here is premature speculation from hundreds of miles away. It took over a year for a final report on the cause of the pedestrian bridge collapse at Florida International University. They've yet to clear all of the rubble from this much bigger building collapse.

Hopefully, some of the individuals responsible for this disaster will pay a price.

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#59
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Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/30/2021 1:00 PM

The condo board keeps open books, there is no pocketing of money....the condo board is also elected from the residents, and are not compensated generally speaking....So the board members go down with the ship so to speak, if anything goes wrong....

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#61
In reply to #59

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/30/2021 2:01 PM

When did you become a forensic accountant? Who's public accounting books did you examine? Can you post a link to these books, please?

Open financial books can hide grafts and all sorts of financial misdeeds. This blind spot is particularly true for individuals without formal bookkeeping training.

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#62
In reply to #61

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/30/2021 2:26 PM

In the condo I lived in the minutes of all meetings were posted in the lobby, including any expenses, condo account balance, special assessments, and monthly payment adjustments to meet obligations, it was always in the $400 - $500 range...as well as the phone numbers and apt numbers of the board members you could call or contact if you had any questions...all work was done by getting written estimates from minimum 3 sources, and choosing the best, which was voted on...The interior of the condo was inspected every year and the toilet flappers and valves were replaced if needed, water heaters were required to be replaced every 7 years....the list goes on and on...Every part of the building is inspected and any problems must be corrected in a timely fashion or the condo association will do it and charge you for it....

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#63
In reply to #62

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/30/2021 2:56 PM

It sounds like you didn't examine the books for this collapsed condo. It also sounds like you are convinced every condo association in Florida operates as impeccably as you believe your condo association did. So how do you think this rebar got exposed?

That looks like maintenance neglect to me.

Image from a Miami Herald report.

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/miami-beach/article252421658.html

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#64
In reply to #63

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/30/2021 3:24 PM

Clearly there was a management crisis from 2018 on, and possibly well before that....

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#58
In reply to #54

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/30/2021 12:53 PM

..."SURFSIDE, Fla. — The former Surfside building official who three years ago told residents at the South Florida condominium that collapsed last week that the structure appeared to be “in very good shape” was placed on leave from his current job, city officials said....

...Prieto was the top Surfside building official when the 40-year recertification inspection process was being done at the Champlain Towers South building in November 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported. Prieto served as the building official in Surfside for about seven years, the newspaper reported.....

...A month after engineer Frank Morabito noted there was “major structural damage” at Champlain Towers South, Prieto attended a condominium association meeting and told the board he had reviewed the report. He told association members that he believed the building was in good shape, according to minutes from the meeting obtained by the Herald.

Prieto told the Herald on Saturday that he did not recall receiving the report and did not recall any major concerns with the building, adding: “If there had been, they would have been addressed right away.”....

https://www.kiro7.com/news/trending/rosendo-prieto-ex-surfside-building-official-who-signed-off-condo-placed-leave/IZYOENKJEJE3FFC4ZVDDVEZMS4/

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#56
In reply to #52

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/30/2021 8:56 AM

Your comment/statement "....that has nothing to do with money, that is incompetent management...." needs expanding to the two, or maybe more points raised.
1. Money - invariably.
2. Incompetence - possibly but refer back to 1.
3. Corruption - on many parts, refer back to 1.
4. Stupidity - who hired them, refer back to 1, 2, and 3.
5. Engineering, really - the 2018, 9 page "missive" on a habitable structure that big...really? Refer back to 1, 2, 3 and 4.
https://www.wfla.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/71/2021/06/8777-collins-ave-structural-field-survey-report.pdf
- would love to see the blood letting that this guy is going to receive in the box; and so on

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#60
In reply to #56

Re: Not Enough Rebar?

06/30/2021 1:32 PM

Owners of million dollar condo's that are beachside or anywhere else for that matter, do not scrimp on maintenance, in fact if anything they go overboard in the other direction spending left and right upgrading the property....

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