An article recently caught my attention- it has to do with a condominium building built in San Francisco that has started to sink. Of course, this isn’t any small condo building, this is a high rise, with multi-million dollar units and high profile owners. Of course, the building’s reps claim that the building started to sink when a government transit station was started adjacent to the building site. The transit people have countered that the building’s foundation was designed wrong and that’s why things are moving. The one thing I know absolutely-the building’s homeowners had nothing to do with either thing- yet they are the ones caught in the middle.
Things you don’t see is one place many builders and developers skimp. If they aren’t going to own it later, they often cut the quality of these things or will try a new, riskier technique or material if it saves them money. No one will see it, who will be the wiser? Well, physics exposes all shortcuts! Cheat on flashings, sooner or later water gets in. Cheat on concrete, uh oh! In this case, I would have thought that the review process might have thrown up a flag if the foundation design wasn’t up to the task at hand. On the other hand, that’s something that the developer’s design team should know about. Ultimately, the truth will come out in court-there’s no way this isn’t going to end up there. Sweating about things you won’t see is much of what I do- that’s where I protect my customers, my employees, my vendors, and, ultimately, my company and my family. Sometimes it frustrates vendors, designers, or workers, but it isn’t their name on the sign. In San Francisco- regardless of who did what, that building is sinking- 16″ so far, which is massive!- and I’m not sure that there’s anything that can be done to stop it from sinking more. Eventually, it should find an equilibrium, but how far down it will go before that is anyone’s guess. And what that means for people that paid a ton of money to live there and will be stuck in the middle of a fight they couldn’t have know was going to theirs, and they will play a minimal role in solving, is anyone’s guess. Story on Sinking San Francisco Building