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Builder starting over on storm-damaged condos in Brier Creek

Posted January 13

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— Backhoes were digging Monday afternoon into the collapsed heap of trusses, plywood, nails that were the building materials for a luxury condominium building under construction at Brier Creek.

The building on Bruckhaus Street blew apart Saturday during storms that produced straight-line winds, and cellphone video that documented the destruction was aired on national news outlets.

Toll Brothers, the Pennsylvania-based company that is building the project, known as the Cottages at Brier Creek, said in a statement that the building was not far enough along in its construction to withstand the extreme winds that knocked it down. Windows, metal framing and other structural supports were not yet in place in the building. By contrast, an adjacent building that did have those features is still standing.

“Structures that are in such an early phase of construction...are not capable of withstanding the extreme (80+ mph) winds that were encountered on Saturday,” the company statement said. “Although there were six other units in a different portion of the same building further along in construction which did not sustain a loss, Toll is retaining an engineer to confirm that their structural integrity was not compromised by this recent storm.”

The company said it was grateful no one was hurt.

Jeremy Longmaid lives in a condo down the street and wasn’t home during the storm. He said Monday he was relieved the building blew in the thick of the gale and not later.

“Literally an hour after the storm, I was walking (my dog) by here, and it could have actually collapsed,” he said.

Two longtime City of Raleigh building inspectors said they had not seen anything like this at a construction site before. Deputy Director for Inspections Curt Willis said it appeared crews couldn't get all the bracing and sheeting done in time for the storm.

Willis said he recalls no problems involving past projects from Toll Brothers, which builds luxury homes in 19 states.

The company said it is clearing out the mess and starting the building project from scratch. The company did not disclose how much the setback cost.

 

7 Comments

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  • RaleighMan Jan 14, 5:27 p.m.

    Any framer willing to go 3 stories up, plus a fully sheathed roof, plus all exterior wall sheathing installed, while

    ….structural supports were not yet in place…

    would definitely not be coming back on my jobsite. No excuse for all bracing not to be in place at that stage of construction. You can’t start an upper level until the supporting structure it will bear on is properly plumbed and braced off.

  • dlnorri Jan 14, 3:25 p.m.

    THe engnineer is right, the storm/collapse could have occurred in working hours with much different consequences. The building should have with stood the wind. It appears were saving nails, as the residential code calls for nails every 3" on edge and 6" on center and a few other items that appear missing in the video. Watch the pieces of nearly undamaged OSB falland fly from the building then do an experiment and see if you can nail a piece up properly and get it off without tearing (I only saw two pieces tear -a few broke- watching this dozens fo times. You bet they got there and cleaned up before the inpector or adjustor could look closely at it.......

  • AtALost Jan 14, 3:16 p.m.

    So much for Toll brothers quality. Looks like they're using non-English speaking workers like everyone else. Sad when only one or two people on site can read blueprints or even care about building codes. Even more distressing to live in a nearby building that may have survived the winds only because the windows and doors provided some support. These 'upscale' condos may be worse than trailers when the next cat1 hurricane hits.

  • paultertell Jan 14, 12:35 p.m.

    I read you article on this condo collapse. As an engineer retired from FEMA, I have investigated numerous failure from high winds. It seems like a lot of jumping to conclusions about the cause of this failure. I would note the following.
    The wind speed at the site does not appear to be established--but based on the video showing felt paper on adjacent roofs--the wind speed at this site was probably significantly lower than the highest recorded wind speeds in the area.
    Buildings under construction need to be properly braced and have a load path established for the loads under construction. Again it is not clear how great these loads actually were
    If this failure had occurred during a workday, workers may have been killed or injured
    From your article, it appears that a structural engineer is looking at the "undamaged" buildings--but not at the failure.
    Often a building department will provide direction on how a failure is evaluated.

  • mafiamic Jan 13, 7:04 p.m.

    Thought they were just going to leave it.
    Thanks to the one who filmed it,for like every other attention getter this has gone "Viral"..That is the word that should be put on the most annoying word list and stop being used.

  • scubagirl2 Jan 13, 6:12 p.m.

    I would expect them to say nothing less!

  • scubagirl2 Jan 13, 6:12 p.m.

    probably some truth to what they are saying, but still for it to fall like that I wouldn't expect them to say anything different.....