Sometimes Structural Inspectors See Things They Didn’t Want To See (39 pics)

Posted in Pictures       7 Aug 2019       3635       2

A hillside deck with some inward leaning posts. I would not want to be that guy up top.


A brick pyramid made by the ancients to hold up this post.


We found some vintage… booklets in the crawlspace of this home. No, we did not take them and sell them to collectors.


This is an old turntable used for cars back in the day. Some also may call this a Lazy Susan! It was used for cars back in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s for easy access and movement. Cars back had a bigger turning radius so they had the turntable to help out.

The build date and fabrication number was stamped into the center of the steel. You can see that the turntable was built on Dec 11th, 1917. This thing was discovered while doing an earthquake inspection for a large industrial building in DTLA.


Image 1: This was a column on a soft-story retrofit project we have in Los Angeles. As you can see, the column has rusted to a point that it has become very brittle and weak. At the time this was discovered, emergency shoring was put into place for additional support. That very same night, the Ridgecrest Earthquake happened. A 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck Ridgecrest, California, some 100 miles away from Los Angeles.

Image 2: Once we came back to the property the very next day, we noticed the entire column had snapped in half due to the movement from the quake! If we hadn’t installed that additional shoring, the unit above may have met the ground…


Izismile Video Collection

We’ve seen a few dolls under homes before, but this one may take the cake on the creepiest one so far.


Sometimes the access points to these crawlspaces can be a bit rough…


This was the skull of some very large animal we found under a crawlspace. It isn’t just a normal rat or opossum skull as it was the size of a basketball.


The absolute definition of a “DIY” project. This entire crawlspace was filled with tree branch posts, many of which were resting upon rocks and logs. I like to think it’s just a person’s bad hiding spot in a game of prop hunt.


Yes, that is a stone acting as a concrete pier for the post. *Insert joke about the post being stoned here*



This was an old 1900’s apartment building that was being held up by some less then effective stud supports. You can see the newer members to the right and left of the original support. They had to trim down the newer ones to compensate for the sagging that was caused by the originals. Scary stuff.


This is the result of the Kool-Aid man failing to break through…

But on a more serious note, this is a brick wall that had no reinforcement on either side. Over time, the weight from above caused the bowing of this wall. The earth below was actually quite sturdy but the rest of the home wasn’t.


Somebody has some serious Jenga skills!


Here we have a classic garden wall with improper footings and tie-ins to the other wall. It could also be the result of a “surcharge.” A surcharge is the result of pressure being built up against a surface, usually caused by the settlement of nearby structures, such as a house. I put that in layman’s terms so don’t yell at me for not being technical.


An older pier that wasn’t even in contact with the post above. This would normally cause some dipping in the floors over time.


Uneven flooring? Here’s your issue. Earth to wood contact. That’s just asking for wood rot and termite infestations.


MDF, or Medium Density Fiber Board, is used in a lot of furniture and aesthetic pieces. This type of material should NOT be used for anything structural. A lot of the time it isn’t treated well for moisture or natural elements. This is what happens when it becomes exposed to water over a short period of time… it will begin to fray out and decay. It looks like mold, but it’s actually the wood fibers being pulled apart due to moisture.


And here we have the entrance to the next level of Super Mario Bros. It doesn’t actually go through the foundation wall, though by the looks of it, that wall could be easily broken apart. The whole foundation needs to be replaced. Very brittle.


This is a post that had been spliced together with another random piece of wood. Why somebody would do this is beyond me.


The post is a bit wonky…


This is the result of a “quick buck” job. The cheapest isn’t always the best option folks.


A nice little girder with no bracing. It’s also just smashing down the existing “post” and pier. You’ll see this sort of thing all over LA.

Instead of putting in a proper post, people will install random pieces of wood under a girder to help support the home. The problem with this is that it’s almost never braced and the wood used is often untreated. They rot much faster than most pieces. I’ll also add that this doesn’t necessarily compromise the structure.


Similar to a BLT sandwich, this is a concoction of random materials used to hold up a girder! Wonderful!


This was a hillside deck that had rotted and been damaged by termites over many years. The result is a decayed, unstable and leaning deck that is ready to slip.


When you gotta go… you gotta go


These are two elements of a home that should not be separated the way the are. Not only is it missing bolts, but it has a gap bigger than the Grand Canyon.


To the untrained eye, this may seem like nothing, but try and take a closer look. The entire house is leaning at a 45 degree angle. Scary stuff being under a home like this. A glass drops above and boom, that puppy drops. (not really but it is scary)


This is a very poorly done cripple wall with DIY shear walls. A cripple wall is simply a wall with “cripples” (or short studs) to help with lateral movement in seismic activity. They act as a cushion for when the house shakes.


While doing this inspection there was a section of the foundation that was undermined by previous contractors. We ended up having to squirm our way under that stem-wall and come up on the other, much tighter section of the crawlspace. For those with claustrophobia, this would have been a nightmare.


Possibly the best earthquake safety/prevention I’ve seen so far. Also looks like the middle bin is a spider and is telling secrets to the other bins in the corner.


If you go around East Los Angeles, you’ll see this sort of crack in retaining walls on almost every single block. These homes in Silver Lake, East LA, Mount Washington, etc. are all on a moving land mass and when mixed with water and quakes, it makes for a good damage sandwich.


Being under a house with a decayed foundation like this isn’t your biggest concern when it’s also littered with mousetraps. This foundation should definitely be replaced as the aggregate is exposed and crumbles on contact.


This is a few generations of post & piers. The one in the foreground is the oldest, to the right of that you have one built a little later on, and the other two are from the past few decades. A supporting family.


This is a concrete foundation that had some pretty bad stress cracking on one side. Somebody had tried to epoxy inject the cracks, but the settlement caused them to simply reopen and expand even further down the wall. The cracking continued for about 10 feet before stopping. There were also some signs of water intrusion.


This was some very bad wood rot caused by years of leaking water and neglect. As you can see, the cantilevered area is starting to bow down due to the weight of the now very damaged and saturated framing. Tis but a minor leak.


This is another property with burrowed holes going under the concrete foundation. This time there were 8 of these… It’s like a maze down there.


This is what we call an undermined footing. It sits below the post & pier for deepened support but is exposed and could fail if the dirt was moved.


This property had very bad drainage and began sinking on one side. At length, this brought the perimeter foundation and exterior concrete pathway to wedge together at the connection point. This caused the concrete pathway to crack and break apart and lift. Gnarly.


Those nails are doing a great job holding nothing together.


jeskris 9 month s ago
#20 Is that a human skull????
Golden 9 month s ago
@jeskris, sure looks like one~!



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