Engineers investigating condo collapse

Moira Baird
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Housing

Structural engineers are investigating why a St. John's condo development partially collapsed Friday.

Craig Foley, vice-president of Gibraltar Developments Ltd., exp-ects to know the results of that independent engineering assessment later this week. The theory, so far, is a temporary structure holding up the steel, second-floor joists collapsed in one section of the building near an elevator shaft.

"It was a temporary support that let go, and it caused one of the floor joists to twist and dropped the second floor with the weight of the concrete," said Foley Tuesday. "When the second floor went, obviously the third floor went with it."

This development in St. John's collapsed Friday. Photo by Mark Burt/Special to The Telegram

Structural engineers are investigating why a St. John's condo development partially collapsed Friday.

Craig Foley, vice-president of Gibraltar Developments Ltd., exp-ects to know the results of that independent engineering assessment later this week. The theory, so far, is a temporary structure holding up the steel, second-floor joists collapsed in one section of the building near an elevator shaft.

"It was a temporary support that let go, and it caused one of the floor joists to twist and dropped the second floor with the weight of the concrete," said Foley Tuesday. "When the second floor went, obviously the third floor went with it."

Those floors contained three-inch-thick slabs of concrete.

Gibraltar is developing a 24-unit, four-storey building dubbed East Point Condominiums on Logy Bay Road. No workers were on site at the time of the collapse.

"Nobody got hurt - that was our main concern," said Foley.

He said an independent engineering company has been hired to determine what went wrong.

"They want to basically look at the rubble, look at all of the steel floor joists and make sure there wasn't a design flaw in the steel floor joists."

Five engineers from four companies are examining the building, including the company that des-igned it.

"By the end of the week, they'll have their theory in place. By next week, reports should be written up," said Foley.

In the meantime, Gibraltar is permitted to continue to working on the rest of the building.

"Due to this mishap, the building is now being built stronger and way beyond code. The integrity and structure of the rest of the building is perfectly intact," said Foley. "It's only 10 per cent of the building that fell down."

On Tuesday afternoon, the province's occupational health and safety division shut down work on the collapsed portion of the building.

Gibraltar's current safety plan doesn't cover the damaged section.

"The stop-work order is just for the area that was damaged. They need to have a safe work plan for the area that was damaged," said a spokeswoman for the occupational health and safety branch of the Department of Government Ser-vices.

Occupational health and safety investigators visited the site Monday.

"Engineers have already gone into the part that didn't collapse and have determined that it's structurally sound for people to be working there," said the spokeswoman.

Its investigation is continuing.

The City of St. John's is also awaiting the engineering report from Gibraltar on the cause of the condo collapse - identifying what went wrong and how it will be corrected.

"They're required to carry out the assessment and provide a report," David Blackmore, the city's director of building and property management.

He expects the report in a matter of days.

The city does not carry out inspections during the structural engineering phase of construction.

Blackmore said it's common for professional services, such as engineering, mechanical and electrical, to certify the work is done properly and meets regulatory requirements.

"On the structural part itself, the structural designer is required to certify that the work in progress meets the plans and specifications."

City inspectors, for instance, ensure buildings meet fire, life and safety codes.

Since Friday's collapse, Gibraltar has also been busy talking to the owners of its pre-sold condo units.

"We assured them that the integrity of the building is perfectly fine," said Foley. "Nobody's backed out because of this."

He assured buyers they will receive a written explanation of the collapse from the structural engineers.

mbaird@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Gibraltar Developments, Department of Government Ser

Geographic location: Gibraltar, St. John's, Logy Bay Road

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Recent comments

  • arnold
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    Today, everything is built to the very minimum. Anywhere a contractor can literally save a quarter they will. I've seen them choose non-galvanized nails over galvanized nails for exterior applications. Can anyone say dripping lines of RUST ? Please, pass on the few extra dollars for proper materials, just don't BS us by multiplying that cost 100 fold.

  • Dave
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    If I had bought one of the units in this building, no amount of assurance from Mr. Foley and company would be able to convince me to move into it.

  • Jou
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Construction loads are sometimes overlooked or left up to the contractor to take care of. This is really the engineer's job who should also supply an experienced inspector during construction. However owners sometimes do not want to cover these costs...so it is a bit of a Catch 22. Unfortunately, people still get injured or killed, but in this case luck prevailed....hallelujah!

  • drew
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    another example of a company looking to save a buck by building an apartment building with wood versus concrete..... only 10% of the building fell down . Great quote Craig!

  • Bob
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    If I had a down payment on one of these units I would be looking for my money back.
    These units will be nothing but nightmares if and when they are finished.

  • arnold
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    Today, everything is built to the very minimum. Anywhere a contractor can literally save a quarter they will. I've seen them choose non-galvanized nails over galvanized nails for exterior applications. Can anyone say dripping lines of RUST ? Please, pass on the few extra dollars for proper materials, just don't BS us by multiplying that cost 100 fold.

  • Dave
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    If I had bought one of the units in this building, no amount of assurance from Mr. Foley and company would be able to convince me to move into it.

  • Jou
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    Construction loads are sometimes overlooked or left up to the contractor to take care of. This is really the engineer's job who should also supply an experienced inspector during construction. However owners sometimes do not want to cover these costs...so it is a bit of a Catch 22. Unfortunately, people still get injured or killed, but in this case luck prevailed....hallelujah!

  • drew
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    another example of a company looking to save a buck by building an apartment building with wood versus concrete..... only 10% of the building fell down . Great quote Craig!

  • Bob
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    If I had a down payment on one of these units I would be looking for my money back.
    These units will be nothing but nightmares if and when they are finished.