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On the subject of inspections :

Several years ago I recieved a call (at 2:00 AM)
from an past client to help with an emergincy.

Part of a wall had collapsed from the third
floor of a 75 year old appartment building.

It turned out to be an ceramic tile structure
with a brick facing.

What had happened was various contractors 
hired over the years to repair weather cracks 
had used CAULKING. None had advised the owner
to have a full inspection. No City inspectors
had shown up in 75 years (No City Records).
No Bank had required an inspection, not even 
a property survey (thats another story).

This Building Was in Western Pennsylvania 
we have a problem with water freezing behind
facing and pushing it away from the structure.

The section that finally came down was 10'long 
by 4' high When it hit the ground three feet
from the building and one foot in from the
sidewalk It raised the Sidewalk 6" for a 
length of 20'.

There was no permanent structural damage to the
building. The facing was held on with metal
ties at 24" on center both ways, when they all
broke and the weather reached 92 deg one summer
evening the caulk let the bricks slide.

All my clients now have structural inspections
of buildings they purchase. At least three 
banks in the area required structural inspections
of buildings before financing for at least 
the following three years.

There was no one hurt and the building was 
salvageable. It was not possable once the 
city, county and state inspectors were
involved to repair the building and bring
it up to present fire panic regulations.
The State gave up the right of Structural
approval several years ago. It is now done
at the descression of the local building
official by an Engineer hired by the
official's department.

We need an in place building inspection department
in PA similar to CA even with the problems.

Want to take a shot at the one who was 
responsable for paying for the damages.?
(Not me I was their after the fact which 
we had to prove)

Robert W. Stevens, Jr., P.E.
Consulting Engineer