Friday, March 14, 2008
This just happened. It’s on one of our golf courses. The wall’s failure raises some questions:
1. Whose wall is this? Pulte’s or the community’s? (Whoever owns it pays to fix it.)
2. Was this wall engineered? Are there construction drawings that are signed and sealed by a registered professional engineer? If not, why not?
3. What role did Beaufort County, SC play in approving the design and construction of this wall?
4. How many other community facilities are inadequately designed and/or constructed? Will the community do everything that it can to try to identify them?
I’ll keep you posted.
Friday March 28, 2008
Pulte has "fixed" the wall in a week. It looks like they pulled it back to vertical, fastened the panels together where they came apart, and put fill in behind the wall. But, did they "fix" the problem? Is the wall properly designed and constructed?
The Property and Grounds (P&G) Committee is a volunteer committee here that inspects and monitors all landscaping, utility and mechanical systems as well as buildings located on common areas in the Sun City Community. They are also responsible for the inspection of property and grounds pre-transfer from the Developer, to include a recommendation on the status of applicable assets to the Board and Executive Director of the Community Association.
Here’s what P&G had to say in their February meeting minutes about the retaining wall failure (apparently the failure occurred long before I saw it—they don’t let us play the back nine that often):
"Retaining Wall Tieback at 17th hole/HC. This is golf course property and NOT common area. This is a design flaw and Pulte/LD is currently preparing an engineering study. The question was raised whether or not there was a reserve established for lagoons outside of golf? Action: There are a number of different departments/committees (Golf Maintenance, Common Area Maintenance, P&G, GAC) that need to meet to review lagoon maintenance and future lagoon issues."
Is the retaining wall that failed at HC no. 17 an engineered wall? Were construction drawings, signed and sealed by a professional engineer, submitted and approved before construction? If not, why not? What was Beaufort County’s role in approving the design and construction for this wall? I've asked these questions of Beaufort County, but so far they haven't responded.
The 2006 International Building Code, adopted by South Carolina as the state’s building code, requires retaining walls (not building foundations) that are not laterally supported at the top and retain in excess of 24 inches (610 mm) of unbalanced fill to be “designed” to ensure stability against overturning, sliding, excessive foundation pressure and water uplift. It also requires retaining walls to be designed with a safety factor of 1.5 against lateral sliding and overturning. (The 2006 International Residential Code, Section R404.5)
Regarding the “engineering study” that Pulte is preparing: in the rest of the world (outside SC) it’s illegal to represent an “engineering study”, or even offer an engineering opinion (take note all you non-registered engineer building inspectors and Pulte employees who have been telling residents here that the roof truss connections are "no big deal"), unless it has been prepared and sealed by a registered professional engineer. We, as a community, need to see who prepares Pulte's “engineering study” and if they are an independent, third party, registered professional engineer.
We have a number of timber bridges around SCHH used by golfers (in their carts), bicyclists, and pedestrians. It makes one wonder. Are there signed and sealed engineering drawings for all of them? Who checked the construction? Are they safe?
I'll keep you posted.
Marrch 30, 2008
Some of my neighbors never cease to amaze me! When I found defective roof truss connections here and went to the newspaper AFTER having gone to Pulte, the Community Association Board of Directors, and Beaufort County Office of Building Code Enforcement, and getting no action, some neighbors criticized me for going to the newspaper--on a life and safety issue. Pulte, Beaufort County, and the Community Association just don't seem to believe that they're accountable to their customers and the people who they serve. I do. Odd concept, isn't it?
Now we have another life safety issue. I've asked Beaufort County if they approved the design and construction for the retaining wall and the timber bridges. So far, no answer. (There's no point in even trying to go to Pulte or the Community Association BOD. Their positions on talking to their customers and the people who they serve were made quite clear during the roof truss connection issue.)
So, here we go again! Maybe the newspaper can get answers to my questions. As far as some of my neighbors are concerned, who criticize those of us who go to the newspaper in frustration, what the heck! They just don't get it.
I'll keep you posted.
April 17, 2008
No, I haven't forgotten about you.
Pulte and Beaufort County are anything but transparent. Pulte uses the "until hell freezes over" approach, and they get away with it--they're a private company.
Beaufort County, SC uses the same approach. If you ask, they don't answer. You have to resort to going to the newspaper or filing a Freedom of Information Act request. The process is slow and tedious. It makes you want to break out into a chorus of "this is my country"!
This may take a while, but I'll keep you posted (when something happens).
April 25, 2008Beaufort County's Office of Building Code Enforcement says that retaining walls and timber bridges aren't in their jurisdiction. Then whose jurisdiction are they? In an effort to find out, I posted the following:
April 24, 2008
NAFFA International The Building Code Discussions Group (BCDG) Building Code Discussions Group (BCDG) Building Code Topics Q & A's Bldg. Dept. issues, plan check, legal & building code adoption
In PUDs (Planned Unit Developments, which have become quite popular in recent years) some infrastructure (roads and paths, ponds, golf courses, common areas, etc.) are privately-owned, rather than publicly-owned. During construction the developer owns the private infrastructure. After development the community, i.e., private property owners in the community, assumes ownership. Needless to say, this is a huge responsibility for private property owners.
Typically, local code enforcement offices approve, inspect, and sign off on buildings. What agency typically approves, inspects and signs off on retaining walls and pedestrian timber bridges (used by golf carts and bicyclists too) that are not attached to buildings? In other words, in a State which has adopted a universal building code, what agency typically takes responsibility for approving construction plans, inspecting, and signing off (following construction) on retaining walls and timber bridges that are not attached to buildings?
A collapsed timber bridge with people on it can kill the same as a collapsed building with people in it. Here's an example of one of the many timber bridges here at SCHH:...........................................................................................................................................................
I'll keep you posted.
JULY 22, 2008
STILL NO ANSWERS!
Before you know it, it'll be a year!
This really IS "the SLOW country"!
Septemeber 4, 2009
No, I never did get an answer from Beaufort County to my questions. What government agency assures that retaining walls and timber bridges have been designed correctly? Who assures that construction plans are signed and sealed by a registered engineer? Who monitors the construction? Who “signs off” on the completed construction? (much like an occupancy permit for a new house)
I asked these questions REPEATEDLY of Gary Kubic, Beaufort County, SC Administrator, but got NO answers. Also, Gary Kubic also promised MORE THAN TWO YEARS AGO that the results of a consultant’s study on the Beaufort County Office of Building Code Enforcement would be made public. Has that happened? NO.
The answer for county government that is NOT accountable to its citizens comes in November. We need to vote OUT representatives who don’t hold county staff accountable. We need to elect representatives who KNOW that if county staff isn’t accountable to its citizens, then THEY will be voted out of office also.