Working as a structural inspector is challenging and dangerous. In this line of work, you constantly come into contact with chaotically built structures and foundations that are (to put it mildly) completely and utterly unsafe.
California-based firm Alpha Structural, Inc. shares photos of the most bizarre and outrageously dangerous things seen during structural inspections and we’ve collected some of the very best for you to enjoy, dear Pandas. As you gasp and shudder while scrolling down, remember to upvote the pics you enjoyed, and leave us a comment or two about what you think.
"The most nightmarish inspection we’ve done this year has to be the property in Portuguese Bend down on the Palos Verdes Peninsula," Derek Marier from Alpha Structural, Inc. told Bored Panda. "First off, because of soil conditions and high landslide risks, not much structural work can be performed there."
"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. It could have toppled over at any given moment and that’s why the 'nightmarish' description fits well," he said. Scroll down for the rest of the interview and, when you’re done with this list, have a look through our previous posts about structural nightmares right here and here.
It's hard to believe somebody actually thought this would be a good idea.
We inspected a large concrete building in L.A. which was once used as a movie studio. Pretty cool
Wrapping this cracked concrete column with duct tape seemed to be a good solution to this homeowner!
Marier told us that safety is a huge deal for employees at Alpha Structural, Inc. "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. 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!"
We were also interested to know if the spread of the coronavirus had affected the company's work in any way recently. Here's what Marier said: "I wouldn’t say the virus has impacted our work as far as getting business in or anything like that. We just double check hygiene and make sure that sick employees stay at home."
Alpha Structural, Inc. has grown in popularity and now boasts over 11.5k followers on Instagram. The company specializes in engineering, construction of foundation, and hillside repairs. It also has a simple mission: to repair properties well while conforming to building codes and keeping their clients’ budgets in mind.
In a previous interview with Marier, he told Bored Panda that employees at the company come across various strange finds while on the job, such as skulls or creepy dolls. “You’re expecting to locate a structural defect but end up finding something you can almost label as satanic or ancient.”
According to Marier, one structural inspection that really scared him involved going into a tunnel that someone dug under the foundation. “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!”
If you're the owner of this property, give us a call... we want to help you!
This may be one of the funniest and most lazy things we've come across. A plumber drilled a hole right through a post to make way for his poop pipes. I guess he knows little about structural integrity. You can't help but have a good laugh when you come across something as ridiculous as this.
This is one of the most interesting things we've inspected in almost 3 decades. This property is located in an area called the Portuguese Bend on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. This home requires some serious work. This is called cribbing. It's a form of shoring that is used mainly for lifting a structure for a short time to perform work underneath. It is NOT meant to be a long term solution for a foundation.
In another interview with Bored Panda, company representative Ben Reinhart said that one of the worst homes they ever inspected was in 1992. “We went to a 3-story hillside home located in Playa del Rey. The condition of the soil supporting the home was so bad that, during our assessment, we found that the home was cracking and actually moving.”
“We are not alarmists in any sense but this was the first time we had to evacuate. Temporary shoring was put in the next morning to prevent the home from collapsing. The complexity of the repair required, getting a large rig on a steep hillside to excavate a 55’ deepened foundation, made this one of the worst and most challenging in our long history. Let’s just say if we were on a reality TV show, this episode would’ve been a season finale,” Reinhart said.
Compressed post above a centered foundation wall. It gave in to the "pier" pressure.
We inspected this "dangerous" retaining wall in Los Angeles that is leaning and broken apart. You can see how bad it's actually leaning from this angle. It has been there for quite some time but nobody has done anything to repair or replace it.
This is a failed retaining wall. The owner just wanted some posts to put in place for reinforcement of the wall, but that is a very minor and temporary solution. Unfortunately, the wall needs to be demolished and redone.
One good look at this photo and you'll see multiple things going on. The floors are sloping (and have been for quite some time) so bad that it is effecting the levelness of the lamp, desk, drawers, AC vents and door frames. This home has some of the craziest sloping floors that we've seen.
This is what happens when your house shifts 6 inches after years of seismic activity and settlement.
Have you ever heard of the La Brea Tar Pits? They are pits located in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles that are famous for preserving prehistoric bones and animal parts. Well, we inspected a property not too far from those pits. With that being said, what you are seeing is natural oil and tar seeping up through the ground into this person's basement. Water was coming into the area and over time it brought the tar and oil with it. Nasty stuff.
This is a retaining wall that didn't do its job very well. All the hydrostatic pressure built up over time and caused the saturated soil to overpower the old retaining wall. Luckily it has since been cleaned up and we will probably be replacing this section and the other sections of the existing wall.
Another weird bird deterrent. "Run my brothers."
That ought to do it!
Stacked bricks with mortar in between. This is a whole new level of DIY.
Stalagmites also formed on the ground below the leak. You'd think we were in a Colorado cave or something.
Another failed retaining wall. Driving around LA you see so many failed or failing walls and it's quite scary.
This is a line of 6 "bridge homes" that extended over a ravine. We only inspected one of them but they are so unique that I felt I had to share. They were all held up by stilts and concrete caissons.
Wild fire? No. Lightning strike? No. Contractors leaving machinery plugged in over night causing a short-circuit and starting a fire? Yes. It's very unfortunate. The homeowner woke up to the fire department putting out the fire. Scary stuff and luckily nobody was hurt. This is why you hire competent contractors.
This is supposed to be a pigeon deterrent. Multiple fake crows (with purchase tags still on them) and a row of spikes should do the trick!
This is a 1910 home we inspected in Los Angeles. The owner provided original photos taken of the home and the original owners. The foundation of this home was all brick and mortar walls. The brick was surprisingly in decent shape. Additionally, it falls under Historic Preservation Law and the brick cannot be removed. The city actually helps with the preservation of the foundation and other historical elements by allowing homeowners to conduct an engineering report and give it to the city. This falls under what is called the Mills Act. You gotta love when a whole chunk of the foundation is just missing. I'm sure it's rodent heaven under there in the summer.
We went out to this property a few years back and informed the owner that the hillside was at risk of having a landslide. Well, it happened.
This column is partially holding up a story above and most of it was completely rotted inside. A knife could be driven into the wood and it would crumble with little effort.
Here we have a cracked and deteriorated foundation wall. Something like this is too damaged to be strapped or filled with epoxy. Here's part of that same wall. Moisture from the exterior has slowly decayed the concrete and caused a breach in the actual wall through to the interior. You can see the dirt and root systems behind the concrete wall.
This is a garage that's sinking pretty badly... It had a massive crack in the middle, creating a wedge in the concrete. It created a slope from the middle to the edge. On the edge, you can clearly see the leaning footings and where it connects to the framing. It's bowing like crazy!
I was at a jobsite and saw an army of Amazon trucks up on a hill above the highway. I didn't notice any building next to it so it seemed very random for them to be located there.
Crawls like this are just the worst. Tons of debris, broken objects and fiberglass insulation at every turn. Most of the post and piers need work though
This is a hillside that is slipping away from the home at a rapid rate, bringing the deck posts with it.
(We have since replaced the wood and put in new concrete piers below the deck.)
You just gotta love some LA plumbers. They've been undermining foundations since the very beginning! Now, any foundation work needed in this area will likely call for removal of this plumbing and relocating it to another area.
Note: this post originally had 122 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.