Commercial Design, General Contracting, Multi-Family Structure

Building and Maintaining Multifamily Structures

Back in June, a condominium collapsed in Surfside, Florida, resulting in the death of 98 people. The Champlain Towers was a 12-story condominium complex with 136 units built in 1981. On June 24, the South Tower collapsed at 1:25 AM, causing an underground fire—an additional obstacle for emergency responders on top of accounting for all the residents in the building. This “unexpected” collapse prompted an investigation as to what caused this catastrophe.

This multi-family structure was due for its 40-year recertification inspection this year, but the warning signs that this structure was unstable emerged years ago. A report released back in 2018 identified issues with the concrete at Champlain Towers South, such as cracking and exposed rebar. Additionally, the pool deck caused significant damages to the building’s overall structure. According to Frank Morabito, the engineer responsible for the 2018 report, an issue prevented proper water drainage in the pool. Despite the costly repairs and disturbance for the residents, Morabito suggested a complete reconstruction. On the other hand, the responding building official claimed the condo was in good condition, so repairs were not immediately needed. Following the report, no repairs were made to the building partially due to the lack of urgency from Morabito and lack of support from building officials.

An estimated $15 million in repairs, expected to start in April 2021, was approved for the building’s 40-year recertification process.

Based on a study reported by USA Today in 2020, between the years 1993 and 1999, evidence showed the building was sinking around 2 millimeters a year. Yet, officials claimed any previous warning signs were not enough to cause the condo to collapse.

Following the condo collapse, investigators discovered water damage along with structural corrosion. Federal investigators released a video last month that showed proof of extensive corrosion and overcrowded concrete reinforcement. The video indicated steel reinforcement in different parts of the building was densely packed.

These red flags should have been enough reason for The Champlain Towers to implement preventive and routine maintenance. Yet, they waited until the 40-year recertification to make any effort in the building’s upkeep. 

What is the lesson learned for the construction industry? It is vitally important to find contractors who will prioritize the highest quality, structural integrity, and safety in all construction projects while acting with a sense of urgency.

The Role of Contractors

At GALBRAITH, we specialize in commercial, industrial, and institutional construction. We prioritize integrity, honesty, and value engineering, ensuring the highest level of quality with a favorable bottom line. To combat building inspection and code compliance issues, we use our resources to provide safe worksites and emphasize safety by adhering to strict safety standards to minimize risk.

Our team is experienced with building maintenance, especially in multi-family structures, to prevent the need for emergency repairs or, worst-case scenario, unimaginable disasters such as the one mentioned previously. By thoroughly inspecting each building, we can determine the necessary repairs while working around your business needs.

As construction experts, preventative problem-solving is essential to identify potential issues before they arise and to anticipate any unexpected changes. Contractors need to be familiar with the construction materials and the environment in which they are building, while also being proactive in making recommendations to prevent further issues.

GALBRAITH provides top-rated concrete construction services, and we mix our own concrete to keep projects on schedule. Through expertise and experience working with concrete, we understand the factors that need to be considered for successful construction.

The Surfside condo collapse shows that our responsibility as contractors is to provide job site safety and ensure that the project is on-time while meeting the necessary code compliance on all facets.

Why a Maintenance Schedule is Important

A regular maintenance schedule is essential to ensure that a building’s structure or any equipment is maintained correctly, so it causes minimal disruption to its operations. Additionally, scheduled maintenance can save money due to costs associated with productivity. When a building’s structure or equipment breaks down due to lack of care, more time is spent trying to resolve the issue, leading to a loss of productivity.

Here are some items to include in a maintenance schedule:

Preventative Maintenance 

Preventative maintenance implements the necessary processes or guidelines to predict and prevent failures before they happen. Regular maintenance involves ensuring that everything is in proper condition before it breaks down, including inspection or servicing.

Routine Maintenance 

Routine maintenance involves scheduling ongoing maintenance tasks to diagnose any issues before it leads to equipment failure. Unlike preventative maintenance, routine maintenance consists of smaller tasks that do not require much skill or training and takes less time.

Fire Code Safety 

Fire code safety is necessary for any building maintenance, especially multi-family structures. Creating a fire-resistant building can aid in saving lives by reducing flammability. Fire safety also includes the necessary warning or detection systems to prevent fire from spreading throughout the building.

Remedial Work Schedules 

Remedial work schedules plan for any defects in a building that may come up from inspection after construction is already completed. If remedial work is included in construction agreements, contractors can quickly dive in and fix any defects. Remedial work costs time and money since it is important to perform the repairs without adding further damage.

Maintenance Checklist

In order to ensure the reliability of buildings or equipment, it’s essential to have a maintenance checklist to determine the basic routine and preventative actions to help businesses achieve their goals by monitoring all the tasks required for regular maintenance.

Developing Relationships with Contractors You Trust

While there are many factors that come into play when it comes to the condominium collapse, we can see the lack of support from building officials in the reconstruction as suggested by Morabito led to this traffic event. When it comes to your business, developing a relationship with a team you trust is vital. You won’t have to second guess their recommendations and can rest assured that they’re working with you and your customer in mind.

How GALBRAITH/Pre-Design, Inc. Can Help Your Business

At GALBRAITH/Pre-Design, Inc., we value the relationships we have with our clients. Originating with pre-design services, we have grown to become an award-winning small family business that maintains the highest quality—with one of our areas of expertise being multi-family structure development, maintenance, and renovation.

We have over 25 years of experience, and we perform all phases of a project with our own crews to guarantee the closest attention to detail as we strive for customer satisfaction. We look forward to working with you on your next project!

Schedule a free consultation for your next project today!