30 Times Building Inspectors Spotted Disasters Waiting To Happen During Structural Inspections

Published 4 years ago

It doesn’t take an architect to know that the foundation is the most important part of the building. Just think about it – a few loose bricks or a rotten pole can make the whole building collapse! That’s why building inspectors have to check them regularly – and you wouldn’t believe the insanely unsafe things they find.

California-based building inspection firm Alpha Structural, Inc. regularly shares their crazy findings online and the pictures will make you realize what ticking time bombs some people are living on. In an interview with Bored Panda, Derek Marier from Alpha Structural, Inc. said that the most nightmarish inspection the company has done this year was on a property in Portuguese Bend on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. “First off, because of soil conditions and high landslide risks, not much structural work can be performed there,” said the man.

“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,” said Derek.

The workers at Alpha Structural, Inc. come to inspect the building in full gear – crawl suits, masks, gloves, steel toed boots, and all that. “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,” said Derek. “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!”

See all of the crazy stuff found during building inspections in the gallery below and check out our previous posts here and here!

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

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Image source:  AlphaStructural

It’s hard to believe somebody actually thought this would be a good idea.


Image source: AlphaStructural

Wrapping this cracked concrete column with duct tape seemed to be a good solution to this homeowner!


Image source: AlphaStructural

If you’re the owner of this property, give us a call… we want to help you!


Image source: AlphaStructural

We inspected a large concrete building in L.A. which was once used as a movie studio. Pretty cool


Image source:  AlphaStructural

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.


Image source: AlphaStructural

Compressed post above a centered foundation wall. It gave in to the “pier” pressure.


Image source: AlphaStructural

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.


Image source: AlphaStructural

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.


Image source: AlphaStructural

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.


Image source: AlphaStructural

This is what happens when your house shifts 6 inches after years of seismic activity and settlement.


Image source:  AlphaStructural

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.


Image source: AlphaStructural

Another weird bird deterrent. “Run my brothers.”


Image source: AlphaStructural

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.


Image source: AlphaStructural

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.


Image source: AlphaStructural

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!


Image source: AlphaStructural

Another failed retaining wall. Driving around LA you see so many failed or failing walls and it’s quite scary.


Image source: AlphaStructural

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.


Image source: AlphaStructural

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.


Image source: AlphaStructural

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.


Image source: AlphaStructural

Stalagmites also formed on the ground below the leak. You’d think we were in a Colorado cave or something.


Image source: AlphaStructural

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.


Image source: AlphaStructural

That ought to do it!


Image source: AlphaStructural

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.


Image source: AlphaStructural

Stacked bricks with mortar in between. This is a whole new level of DIY.


Image source: AlphaStructural

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.


Image source: AlphaStructural

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!


Image source: AlphaStructural

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.


Image source: AlphaStructural

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


Image source: AlphaStructural

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.)


Image source: AlphaStructural

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.

Aušrys Uptas

One day, this guy just kind of figured - "I spend most of my time on the internet anyway, why not turn it into a profession?" - and he did! Now he not only gets to browse the latest cat videos and fresh memes every day but also shares them with people all over the world, making sure they stay up to date with everything that's trending on the web. Some things that always pique his interest are old technologies, literature and all sorts of odd vintage goodness. So if you find something that's too bizarre not to share, make sure to hit him up!

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Alpha Structural, Alpha Structural Inc., architecture fails, bp-exclusive, dangerous buildings, Derek Marier, design fails, faulty foundations, peculiar buildings, strange finds, strange inspection finds, structural inspections, structural inspectors find weird things, unsafe buildings
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