The recent tragic collapse of a 40-year-old Miami residential building located on a surf beach has – with no doubt – sent shivers down the spine of Community Managers, Asset Managers and Building Committees in Australia.
For engineers who deal with existing structures, the images below are conditions we frequently see in our field, right here in the Australian soil, mainly concentrated along the coastal zones.
Examples of concrete spalling
While early reports indicated the structure was undergoing severe concrete spalling due to steel reinforcement corrosion, experts investigating the collapse in Miami have not yet presented their verdict.
However, when dealing with similar situations, how often have we engineers heard, “once engineers get involved, it costs more to fix, do we really need them?”
This statement alone should set alarm bells, as competent engineers are the only qualified professionals who can identify, and in most cases, foresee a failing structure.
Is it actually expensive? Well, it is nowhere near as expensive as an irreparable catastrophe.
Building owners, strata managers, asset managers and committee members should always ask themselves the following question: Who is it providing myself or my client with their professional advice? Is it:
- A contractor who has been working in your building for years but fails to acknowledge that some issues are likely to fall outside their expertise and competencies?
- A non-engineer building consultant/salesperson who tells you to use a magical repair product without thinking the problem and its causation through?
- A member of the strata committee who thinks they know best?
The answer is no one from the above list should be providing any advice when a structure, or even if only a part of it, has been compromised.
The only professionals you should be receiving advice from are competent structural engineers carrying appropriate industry badges such as RPEQ, CPEng or equivalent, being responsible for their advice and appropriately insured to do so, with no exemption.
Unfortunately, most actions are reactive in the remedial engineering industry.
Proactive actions will always cost less in the long term. A fact is that; no building condition will ever remediate itself; instead, the degradation rates progress faster as time goes by. If identified early, the cost for rectification is often much lower than if a condition is inappropriately remediated or left unattended.
If you are in the position of recommending or selecting a professional, do not risk having the wrong professional looking after your direct interest.
As registered engineers, Buildcheck have the responsibility and due diligence to tell you the truth about a structure and lead you in the right direction.