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While the focus rightly remains on the search for survivors of the south Florida condo building collapse, some information is starting to emerge about a possible cause. And though this is a residential facility, there are still some lessons facility managers responsible for commercial and institutional facilities can take from this tragedy.
The NY Times reports that engineers looking at the building’s collapse think the failure point was somewhere near the bottom of the building. The Washington Post reports that residents and former employees said the building’s parking garage often flooded, a possible factor in the collapse, as well. A previous engineering report from 2018 had warned of “major structural damage,” according to the Washington Post. And CNN reports that a letter from the condo board’s president from April 9th of this year warned residents that damage and deterioration to the building had gotten significantly worse since a 2018 engineering assessment.
Facility managers see their fair share of engineering reports, consultant assessments, and other building feedback. Sometimes, these even include warnings of catastrophic failure. But these can too-easily be dismissed as “crying wolf.” Or they might be too expensive to deal with at the moment. This condo collapse tragedy should be a stark reminder to facility managers that any sort of structural damage to a building can result in supremely dire consequences if not dealt with promptly.
The Florida condo building was reportedly set to undergo repairs in anticipation of its 40-year recertification. But there were delays in these repairs seemingly due to cost, the reluctance of the condo board to pass these costs onto residents as special assessments, and a number of other factors.
It’s easy for facility managers to get caught up in the day-to-day and put off long-term projects. So again, this should be a good wake-up call to take another look at any of those capital planning projects that may have been on the drawing board, but fell to the cutting room floor for whatever reason.
This post was submitted by Greg Zimmerman, deputy editor, Facility Market.