Putting safety first: Averted crisis highlights value of building inspection
When a pre-purchase inspection uncovered significant structural damage in a downtown Minot building last year, the Minot City Inspection Office in North Dakota was called in to help head off a potential collapse that could have led to loss of life. Less than five months into his job as building official for the City of Minot, International Code Council member Luke Tillema received a report from a structural engineer, suggesting the city order evacuation of a building on Main Street due to imminent danger of collapse. The city inspection office does get involved with existing buildings when problems are brought to its attention.
A concrete floor with a vapor barrier had been recently installed in the building’s basement, but for many years the building had only a dirt floor, allowing moisture to enter the structural columns. “That moisture in that basement was just eating away at the concrete and mortar, to the point where it exposed the rebar and was doing the same thing to the rebar,” Tillema said. “I did issue an evacuation of that building. We displaced a business and a few families that lived above the business.”
Working with the city to assess the property, the building owner hired an engineer to design the repair. A local contractor performed the work under the city’s inspection, resolving a crisis that could have impacted neighboring buildings, as well as tenants, had the structure fallen. The incident also highlights the importance of the work of building code inspectors — something many residents often don’t recognize until a tragedy happens somewhere.
“It gives them a sigh of relief to know that we are here, I believe,” Tillema noted. “And we all do a pretty good job, in my mind. We’ve got one of the best staffs in the state for knowledge and experience and understanding the code and applying it correctly in the field. Everybody is a certified inspector through the International Code Council, which is who writes the books, so that’s a pretty big deal.”
Source: The Minot Daily News