Let’s see a show of hands, Pandas: how many of us truly think about the structural integrity of our homes, schools, and offices? Unless there’s an obvious problem like a pipe jutting out through the wall or the floor getting more and more crooked by the week, we’re pretty content to go about our daily lives without another thought about hidden structural defects.

However, what a professional can uncover during structural assessments can be truly shocking and might make you wonder how some buildings are still standing. The structural inspectors from Alpha Structural, Inc. post the weirdest and most jaw-dropping things they find while on the job, and today we’re featuring some of their most powerful recent photos. Scroll down to see just how bad things can get, Pandas.

For some more engineering ‘nightmares’ and ‘miracles’ found during inspections, check out Bored Panda’s earlier articles right over here, here, and here when you’re done with this list.

More info: AlphaStructural.com | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Imgur

#1

Structure Fails

This apartment complex's tucked-under garage has begun to spall.
Spalling can cause serious injuries as it can damage the whole structure to a point of failure.

There are three stories above this garage.

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indiecognition
Community Member
3 months ago

And everyone clapped. I mean collapsed.

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#2

Structure Fails

They did not understand the assignment.

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indiecognition
Community Member
3 months ago

They should be sacked

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#3

Structure Fails

This post and pier looks funny.
Someone replaced the post with a game of jenga.

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Vorknkx
Community Member
3 months ago

A random earthquake: "Hello there."

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Alpha Structural is a company in California that has been servicing, repairing, and upgrading structures and foundations for close to 30 years. They’re primarily based in Los Angeles and Southern California. Meanwhile, their employees have over 400 years of combined professional experience in their engineering department.

Quality, professionalism, and an eye for drawing in viewers on social media are the name of the game. And they’re very good at it.

#4

Structure Fails

The pig from the three little pigs story did a better job at building a house of bricks.
This looks rushed. Maybe the big bad wolf was closer than they thought.

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DUN DUN (she/her)
Community Member
3 months ago (edited)

My Tetris looks better than this

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#5

Structure Fails

Only bounce houses should move side to side. This home’s garage is clearly on its way out. Hope it’s empty.

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Bacony Cakes
Community Member
3 months ago

That palm is structural.

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#6

Structure Fails

I love magic shows.

This house impressed me with floating posts and invisible piers.

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DUN DUN (she/her)
Community Member
3 months ago

Oh my god wtf 😨😳

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During a couple of previous interviews with some of the staff members working at Alpha Structural, Bored Panda learned more about inspections, how they work, and how employees stay safe.

"The most nightmarish inspection we’ve done [in 2020] has to be the property in Portuguese Bend down on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. First off, because of soil conditions and high landslide risks, not much structural work can be performed there,” Derek Marier told us about one of the worst properties seen during an assessment.

#7

Structure Fails

The “Balcony Bill” was signed back in 2018, and for good reason. Let’s get them up to code now.

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Veronica Connelly
Community Member
2 months ago

Balcony Bill sounds like an old outlaws name or some s**t lmao

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#8

Structure Fails

Signs of slab damage are important to assess and handle as soon as possible.

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John Smith
Community Member
2 months ago

Duct Tape.. fixes anything.

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#9

Structure Fails

Hmm, did they drink a bit too much and forgot to pour the footing?

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N G
Community Member
3 months ago

looks like there's a draft going through the foundations

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"The home had a very interesting foundation system made up of screw jacks, steel beams, and cribbing (commonly used for temporarily lifting a structure while work is being done underneath). The front portion of the deck and home were sinking and unfortunately, the homeowner can’t really do much about it,” he said.

“It could have toppled over at any given moment and that’s why the 'nightmarish' description fits well.”

#10

Structure Fails

Structural support shouldn’t be a balancing game.

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DUN DUN (she/her)
Community Member
3 months ago

Jenga-man strikes again

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#11

Structure Fails

I’m not sure why they went with an angled cut for the top of the post.
This is going to be a “no” from me.

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Sue Lynn Chan
Community Member
2 months ago

Why do I feel like I need to push it to align it?

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#12

Structure Fails

When a deck is showing signs of wear and tear, you should look for any rusting of metal components. This isn't only an appearance issue but, also a safety warning. The structural components of the deck could be unsafe and could cause a total collapse of the deck floor.
Steel nails that are used in deck construction are coated with a layer of zinc that protects the steel from airborne ocean water salts. Over time the zinc layer is worn down by the corrosion process. Once the zinc layer is gone, bare steel is exposed to sea salts that rapidly destroy the structural strength of the nail connections, making deck components dangerous for occupant use.

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theoneandonlynoira
Community Member
2 months ago

But that's not rusted at all lol

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Alpha Structural employees use a lot of protective gear while on the job. They take safety very seriously, even if the actual risks are very minimal. “Crawl suits, masks, gloves, steel-toed boots, and many other forms of safety precautions are taken. The chance that a building is actually going to fall over when we do our work is slim to none,” Marier explained to us.

“Any actual danger is sniffed out pretty quick and avoided. If our guys think it’s unsafe to inspect or work on a location, they’ll make a call based on their best judgment and sometimes they choose to not do it. That’s just our safety policy!" he said.

#13

Structure Fails

In this scenario, we would most likely propose a partial foundation replacement. But all I can think is how many pens will fit in there?

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N G
Community Member
3 months ago

it depends on how big your pen is .....and where you put it.

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#14

Structure Fails

Cracks in your garage can be common.

When there is a significant crack like the one above, examining them further and checking the home for other signs of possible soil and foundation movement is recommended.

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Crease Almighty
Community Member
3 months ago

I love those pens.

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#15

Structure Fails

The picture does not do the wall justice. This retaining wall is massive, and it is also failing.
Yes, it has been braced. No, it doesn't make it less scary.

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Justme
Community Member
2 months ago (edited)

It’s the Mediocre Wall of China

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Structural faults, cracks, and wobbly timber beams holding up the entire building aren’t the only things that inspectors come across. Sometimes, they stumble upon incredibly bizarre finds like skulls of creepy dolls.

“You’re expecting to locate a structural defect but end up finding something you can almost label as satanic or ancient,” Marier said.

#16

Structure Fails

Oh okay. I guess someone forgot to build a door to enter the other side.

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DUN DUN (she/her)
Community Member
3 months ago

When Jerry grew up he needed a bigger entrance

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#17

Structure Fails

Oh look: it moves.
It shouldn’t need to be said, but no part of your home’s foundation should move with a push.

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Olivia Lisbon
Community Member
3 months ago

I know zero about home construction, but even I would ask questions here.

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#18

Structure Fails

This internal stem wall is leaning significantly to one side. This is compromising the structural integrity of the home as other sections now carry more weight than intended.

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Crease Almighty
Community Member
3 months ago

That’s gonna make a 1.5 level earthquake feel important.

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“I’ve heard horror stories of people getting trapped under houses by attempting to squirm through those gaps. That’s a nightmare in itself. Thank the lord there was no scary doll or human skull staring me in the face while I was attempting to crawl through!” he opened up about one particular inspection where he had to go into a tunnel that someone dug under the foundation.

#19

Structure Fails

Trees and plants need to be carefully chosen when this close to a wall. Usually, you would want to keep trees at least 15ft. away. Most of a tree's growth happens out of sight, and those roots can do real damage.

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Olivia Lisbon
Community Member
3 months ago

A lack of long term thinking seems to be a common thread here.

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#20

Structure Fails

Load-bearing spider webs keep this post and pier in working order.

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Kel_how
Community Member
2 months ago

Spiders are the real heroes

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#21

Structure Fails

Who else likes the corner pieces of a brownie better?

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Chris Jones
Community Member
3 months ago

Fairly sure that is a blondie! Cappuccino blondies are my favourite but I like the middle pieces better than corners... Not a post about cakes? Whatever do you mean?

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#22

Structure Fails

One of our Senior Structural Assessors, Kyle, can be seen here inspecting a failing retaining wall.

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Syringa Wessels
Community Member
2 months ago

of course his name is Kyle

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#23

Structure Fails

We did this assessment for a brand-new home in Los Angeles built in 2017. This is a 3.2-million-dollar home. When we went into the crawlspace, we noticed these wood pieces in odd places. We’ve seen a thing or two, so we knew we had to cut these off and inspect behind it.
When we removed the wood pieces, we immediately knew why they were trying to hide what was behind it.
Sloppy concrete work. We found several exposed spots. Leaving components of the home open to the elements can cause problems like this rusted beam. This beam is holding up three stories.

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Lara Verne
Community Member
2 months ago

3.2-million-dollar ruins.

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#24

Structure Fails

Many people do not know that concrete is porous. So when it is wet, the water can make its way into the other side, and as moisture begins to seep into the concrete eventually, the water will break it down, causing cracks and leaks.
The combination of water and air encountering the rebar creates a chemical reaction called iron oxide, also known as rust.
The rebar inside the concrete will begin to rust once it is exposed to these elements.

Without them, the rebar will not rust.
Once the rebar begins to rust, it can cause the steel components of the building to expand 6 times the original size. This force created by the expanding rusted rebar causes the cracking and gaps you see.

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Olivia Lisbon
Community Member
3 months ago

Fascinating. And terrifying.

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#25

Structure Fails

Wood rot at its best... or worst.

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Layne Rodgers
Community Member
2 months ago

I thought that was insulation at first... Oh goodness

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#26

Structure Fails

Just imagine for one second dragging your body through a very tight space over thousands of little jagged rocks. This one hurt.

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Jada Levijoki-White
Community Member
2 months ago

Fun for the whole family

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#27

Structure Fails

Hmm, gap between the mudsill and stem wall... this homeowner is probably experiencing some sloping floors in this area.

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Chich
Community Member
2 months ago

And at that precise moment it decides to settle :P

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#28

Structure Fails

Stick a knife in it. It's done and needs to be replaced.

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Kona Pake
Community Member
2 months ago

and fumigated.

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#29

Structure Fails

The soil eroded and left a massive gap in the hill as it all came sliding down. All the extra weight causes the wall to get to a point that it is not strong enough to support the soil, it becomes overloaded, and fails.
A drainage system behind a wall like this could’ve potentially helped.
A drainage system can include a layer of gravel, drainpipes and weep holes that redirect the water that would usually sit behind the wall.
Retaining walls typically are not designed to resist the weight of soil and water. So, when hydrostatic pressure builds up behind a wall, it can become overloaded and fail.
The wall caused damage inside the home too.
This could’ve been much worse.

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Scarlett Barbee
Community Member
2 months ago

Really...I think it is pretty f-ing bad.

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#30

Structure Fails

This internal cripple wall is leaning to one side. I guess it's already doing half the work for the next earthquake.

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Bacony Cakes
Community Member
3 months ago

Is it called a cripple wall because if it fails you'll become crippled?

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#31

Structure Fails

This bolt has rusted and allowed the foundation wall to begin to spall. Horizontal foundation cracks are the most concerning. As you can see, the crack has been patched before, but this is something that needs to be replaced ASAP.

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dream of delusion
Community Member
2 months ago

bruh that bolt looks downright crusty

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#32

Structure Fails

This home’s retaining wall failed during the heavy rainfall Los Angeles experienced a couple of weeks ago. A common reason why retaining walls fail is saturated soils, usually from rain, with a lack of a proper drainage system behind the wall.

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theoneandonlynoira
Community Member
2 months ago

Nah poor wall that hurt

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#33

Structure Fails

Rebar, which is steel reinforcement, makes a wall stronger and reduces cracking and leaning. Older block walls may not have rebar in them and are more apt to crack or fail.

The majority of maintenance and repairs on a block or concrete wall can be done by masonry or concrete wall contractors. In extreme circumstances, a geotechnical and/or structural engineer may be needed.
I know it's hard but take your eyes off the wall and look up to the balcony...
Yeah, that's not supposed to happen either.

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theoneandonlynoira
Community Member
2 months ago (edited)

But non leaning balconies are SO 2021!

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#34

Structure Fails

Here we have some pretty serious spalling in a residential garage. Spalling is a term used to describe areas of concrete which have cracked and delaminated from the substrate. Concerning structural damage, it doesn't happen overnight but persistent water leaks and failure deferred maintenance could cause significant structural issues.

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EmCWolf
Community Member
2 months ago

Reminds me of that Florida condo collapse...

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#35

Structure Fails

Name a better duo: crumbling piers and tilting posts.

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Ꮋꭼꮮꮮꭺ-ꮪꮻꮜꭱꮯꭺɴꭰꭹ
Community Member
2 months ago

literally anything else

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Note: this post originally had 122 images. It’s been shortened to the top 35 images based on user votes.

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