Two days before the building collapsed, photos taken in the pool equipment room of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, revealed cracked concrete on the walls and severely damaged rebar beneath the pool.
The man, who requested to remain anonymous in a Miami Herald report published Monday, June 28, went to the condo to put together a quote for cosmetic changes to the pool and equipment updates.
He also saw “standing water all over” the underground parking garage but did not photograph it, the Herald reported. And the biggest puddle of standing water he saw was near parking space 78, which is exactly beneath the section of the pool deck where engineer Frank Morabito indicated there was a “major error” in the spot’s original design in 2018.
“He thought it was waterproofing issues,” the contractor said of a member of the building staff who toured him around. “I thought to myself, ‘That’s not normal.'”
Meanwhile, the contractor discovered another issue in the pool equipment room on the south side of the underground garage: exposed and corroding rebar in the above concrete, according to the Herald.
The building then partially collapsed two days later.
“I wonder if this was going on in other parts of the building and caused this collapse,” the contractor said.
“You can see extensive corrosion of the rebars at the bottom of the beam. That is very serious,” said Mohammad Ehsani, an engineer and concrete restoration expert. “If the condition of the beam in the pool guy’s photo is something that was also happening under the building, that is a really major concern.”
However, Ehsani cautioned against the conclusion that all beams in the doomed structure were damaged to the same extent as those exposed to pool chemicals. But he believed that if the damage had been more widespread, it would have “absolutely” led to the building’s collapse.
“In these buildings that are asymmetrical like this one, there is a possibility that if you have one part of the building that collapses, the building does some turning and twisting,” he added. “In this case, it is possible that a failure any place in this building could cause distortion to the frame of the building and could cause a collapse in any of the areas, not just adjacent [to the failure].”
In an interview with CNN, a man whose mother and grandmother are among the 150 people still missing in the disaster expressed his reaction to the photos.
Pablo Rodriguez told the network that the night before the collapse, his grandma called him to complain about the building’s creaking noises.
“This just confirms the maintenance was not done over the many years,” he told CNN’s Erin Burnett.
“The board collects over a million dollars of maintenance fees from the unit owners every single year. Where was that money going? Because it wasn’t going to maintenance,” he added.
When contacted for comment, Maxwell Marcucci, a representative for the Champlain Towers South condo association, declined to comment on what the pool contractor observed.