175 Worst Things Seen During Structural Inspections
You can get away with a sloppy handshake but with a carelessly built house? Not so much. Eventually, its qualities will deteriorate to the point when the only thing holding it together is pure luck. And you better call in the construction engineers before that runs out, too.
Alpha Structural, Inc. presents itself as the only company in Los Angeles County licensed to engineer and build any type of foundation or hillside repair. For its 25th birthday, the organization has decided to share some of the craziest structural construction fails they've found over the years, making many internet users question the sanity of some contractors. "Besides having a stellar reputation, we're called out to inspect and propose solutions to many structural issues," a spokesperson of Alpha Structural, In. told Bored Panda. "Specializing in advanced hillside foundation repair methods we mainly are called to inspect when there are issues such as sloping floors, failed retaining walls, etc."
"A very common engineering fail we see is mid-century hillside homes that are sinking. They were often built with shallow footings that are prone to sink over time. Additionally, there is a lot of expansive soil in Los Angeles which, due to its high clay content, expands and contracts. This leads to corners or sides of a home that sink."
Since the company has already inspected tens of thousands of properties, it's hard to catch its engineers off guard. "I would say we're more likely to be surprised by what's under the home than the structure itself! Although, while we are not alarmist in any way, every once in a while we will come across a structure that we are surprised is still standing."
According to Alpha Structural, Inc., everyone living in the area can take measures to make their building a safe place. "We always recommend earthquake retrofitting your home," they added. "It's no surprise seismic activity is prevalent in Los Angeles, so taking the time to retrofit your home is key. Also, most foundation problems are caused because of no drainage, or poor drainage around the home. The most cost-effective solution to preserve your foundation is to make sure your yard slopes away from the structure and that your gutters and downspouts are cleaned and route the water away.
However, it's easy to get carried away. "People tend to overreact when it comes to their home. Things such as hairline cracks and minor sticking of doors can cause quite a panic in most homeowners. Plenty of information about our services can be found on our website!"
Continue scrolling to check out what epic fails these guys find daily and upvote your favorite entries!
YES, this is a real skull & YES it was called in to the police and YES it was confirmed by a detective coroner.
While doing a real estate inspection in the valley, one of our assessors came across the above skull. It was said to be found in Peru by the previous owners. Apparently, they brought it back in their luggage when returning from their vacation in Peru. Why they would do this is beyond me.
This was later confirmed by the sellers of the property that it was in fact brought back over to the states from Peru. The skull, which was studied by the coroner, was roughly 1,000 years old. This is by far one of the craziest things we've seen doing foundation inspections in Los Angeles.
This was taken during one of our structural inspections in North Hollywood. It's gonna take a little more than duct tape to fix this one.
Now, I forgot the term for these, but basically it's a massive hole/well that was about a meter under the concrete footing. The owner had no idea this was here. Must have been there for decades.
During an inspection, one of our assessors found this beauty. A wall created entirely out of concrete filled washing machines.
And there goes the other half of your house
"I have sagging floors" And this is why.
This is something you don't see every day: A colony of bees/hornets/wasps, have created a honeycombed nest on the carcass of a dead animal and it became the perfect online content. Nasty.
This is a foundation made up of river rock, some sort of hardened mortar and the tears of the contractors who did it. Also, I see a rhino!
This is a very interesting view from a basement window. It's actually located in a shower and you can see the critters moving around in the dirt. Hope you like bugs!
It may seem as if this is a photo was taken at an angle, but I assure you, it was perfectly straight. The floors are just sloping down a good 6 inches from the middle of the home.
Nothing is worse than coming across a massive gas pipe while excavation. It wasn't on the initial plans.
Though these jacks are pretty common...they should never be used as a permanent pier. Unless secured with duct tape of course.
This is an abandoned home in East Los Angeles. I don't want to get too technical on this, but not even the homeless would want to set up shop in there.
This is one of the craziest structural fails I've ever seen. No re-bar, not bolted, settling 2 ft and it's on sand...Just wow!
A soft-story can be described as multi-level structure built with a first floor that is much less rigid (soft) than the floors above, such as in an apartment with tuck under parking. This is a cause for concern, for when an earthquake hits, the existing columns do not have the strength to protect against the sideways movement that can occur.
This is actually the door leading to Narnia. It just so happens that it's under a house in Pasadena, CA.
Seriously though, they used this as a sort of "shear wall" for additional strength. Again, an obvious DIY job.
May not look like much, but a single toddler jumps and that set of stairs and deck come down.
Not in terrible condition but I really want to kick it in.
It's simple, the floor is actually a balloon. Prepare to fly.
The fact that almost all of the post & piers were like this is concerning!
This is what happens when wood touches dirt over a long period of time. It soaks up water and rots.
So from here we see there is a slope starting from the right and going 15 feet to left.
After peeling back the carpet, we discovered a massive slab crack. To the right of the crack we see another crack that's been patched. The left side of the house was completely sinking a total of 18 inches from the point of the crack. One of the worst slab conditions we've seen so far in LA.
This patio above the garage had a little water intrusion...
They might want to add a "Do not park next to this obviously failing retaining wall because it might fall on your car in the night and we're not paying for it" sign.
This is a disaster waiting to happen. A large area of the back patio is basically floating on this hillside. Also, you can clearly see my finger in the frame.
The issue is....all of it
The columns on the side are fine, but the middle one...it's game over
During an inspection in Los Angeles, we came across this brittle, failing foundation made of brick. The mortar simply fell right off of the brick in a dust waterfall. An earthquake would more than likely demolish this home.
Post that's barely resting upon a concrete pier. This one is undermined and probably one good shake away from collapsing.
It's a bucket filled with sand, not concrete, used as a concrete pier. Code? Nope. Aesthetic? Nope. Funny? Yep.
This speaks for itself. If you're wondering about the filter, I lost the original. All I have is our Instagram photo.
Nature will find it's way. (Ficus Tree Root)
A big concrete block, random wood members and plywood. That should do.
Did a structural assessment for this home and the lady was wondering why her home was sloping 7 inches. Some classic LA settlement.
The roots basically said F**K YOU and broke the wall with ease.
This was a very interesting hillside home that was sliding down the hill. They needed an engineered wall to keep the house from cracking down the slope.
This one is subtle but the property is shifting like crazy! The back wall is bowing quite a bit and in the top right, where the stilts connect to the overhang, you can see the waviness of the connections and how unstable it really is.
A few more inches down and that would have made a nice half-pipe for skateboarding. Image below shows the cause of this dip!
This was found under a house. Somebody undermined the entire footing then stopped the excavation and left.
This is a sump pump. It should be isolated in a plastic or concrete basin to collect water. This was installed into dirt. Fail.
Water was constantly getting into the wall. This is the ugly result!
"who goes under a house to steal a wooden block off a pier?"
Seems that they mixed every piece of rubble after a demolition and made a wall with it.
"I tried fixing it myself but I thought I'd give the experts a call"
A pier with the footing sinking 7 inches down on the right. There were 6 others just like it under this property.
Poor drainage, erosion and lack of care
Just don't stick your hand in there...the house could bite.
This may look like a cool, industrial ceiling pattern in a DTLA villa, but it's actually water intrusion coming through the cracks above.
This was a failed retaining wall that we're fixing up. It actually wraps around the front (which you'll see below) and the pressure underneath and farther up the hill caused it to fall over and collapse into the street and into the neighbors yard. What occurred was called a "surcharge" and it's when the pressure from the structure puts too much tension into the surrounding soil that it slowly gets pushed outwards.
This is a deck that extended past the garage doors below it. Needless to say, it had some insane wood-rot underneath! In the photo to the right, you can see the once sturdy deck was held together by a massive framing bolt. Now it's free floating.
This is the side of a home that had awful water damage and wood-rot. The walls were so badly damaged and damp, they began to buckle and burst open, exposing the interior framing and causing the house to sink on one end.
This is a pretty severe crack in the concrete foundation of a hillside home. Metal strapping is one solution to this, though it's never recommended because the problems will persist and show up again in a few years. Replacing this section would be the correct action.
You don't have to be an expert to see there's an issue here. The foundation and framing connection (cripple wall) is buckling out toward the driveway. This is causing sloping floors, interior and exterior cracking and sticking doors.
Look at that bend!
A pier made with brick & mortar...No Bueno!
A spider made this crack it's home and now we can't do the work. We don't want to tear a spider family apart like that.
I mean, if it works...