Blame For Collapsed Floor or Rental Home

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Old 11-18-04, 11:21 AM
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Blame For Collapsed Floor or Rental Home

2 weeks ago my living room floor collapsed during a party at my house. At the time of the collapse, there 10-15 people in the room, as well as a sofa and heavy TV.

8 beams of 2x 5/8s collapsed. The beams were 16 feet long, and spaced ever 18 to 22 inches. 3 of the beams helped carry the fireplace header, which were not doubled up.

After the collapse my landlord hired a structural engineer came. He wrote a report that said the floor was overloaded by 55 percent overloaded relative to the floors max. Wood appeard to be in good condition with little or no moisture damage or checking. Wood was knoctched at ends with top 4 inches over top of center girder or into foundation of wall.

Repair is estimated at $2200. Tuesday we are going to meet with a lawyer. In the mean time, I'm open for anyones 2 cents as to who a judge would indict. We've had more than 15 people in that room on other dates, but there wasn't any collapse. Is it possible there was gradual damage? for pictures of the damage.
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Old 11-18-04, 11:50 AM
majakdragon's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: N.E. Arkansas
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Trying to figure out what type of measuring device the engineer used to get 4" over the notched end. Unless your camera is off, it looks to be more like 2 or 2-1/2 inches of support.

Last edited by majakdragon; 11-18-04 at 01:21 PM. Reason: unecessary comments
Old 11-18-04, 01:20 PM
Doug Aleshire's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 4,680

Your question should be answered by your Engineer. Our opinion here is one that would not carry any weight as you appear to be inquiring for more direct and positive answers that would be in your favor in a pending legal issue.

Unfortunately, the fact that this did collapse, hope noone was hurt, and that it is an old building means that Building Codes where virtually non existent when this was built. The method of construction is different that what is done today in regards to what would be considered "Built to Code". As one gets older, we all grow weaker and grayer. Wood is no different but there are other methods that can withstand the aging effect. Fact is that you can't compare or expect current Codes to be applicable to a building of this age.

Usually rental inspections are done but this is more on the bases of outright safety hazards versus structural integrity.

Hope you can get this back into shape fast and have a solid floor under your feet.

Good Luck!
Old 11-18-04, 01:57 PM
awesomedell's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: USA
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Consult your lawyer and get your own independent inspection of the damage, as well as at least 2 or 3 estimates as to costs of necessary repairs. From what you told me in your e-mail and what I'm seeing in these pics, looks like the old place is just about worn out. You'll most likely have to let the court settle the dispute, & it would be wise to have all your ducks in a row when you go in front of the judge. Good luck Nate!
Old 11-18-04, 05:01 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 109
I would love to hear your resolution on this one. I hope it is not against you. I'm no lawyer but when it comes to renting and damage I would think there has to be some proven negligence or intent on your part. Like leaving the bath water running and flooding the house, screwing around with the electrical and over loading the service etc... the floor collaspe from having friends over sitting on your couch and watching a TV - thats not negligence.

The engineer guy said the floor was overloaded by 55%. I love to see the calculations to back that up If at the time of the collaspe you had 12 people over, does that mean only 8 people can be in the room at a time to safley load the room ???

Get your own lawyer for sure (bring a copy of your lease), also I would call the local building inspector to see if they can guide you.
Old 11-18-04, 06:35 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 215
Not sure what getting a second engineer would accomplish -- what can he say, that the floor was NOT overstressed?

Granted, that mortise & tenon joinery is no longer used for floor joists (they lose the tensile strength of the portion of the joist beneath the tenon), but the floor lasted this long (what -- 70 years?) so the design can't be faulted.

Which leaves the load. Applied repeatedly, as you state. Fifteen people is the weight of a small car. Would you permit the weight of a car in your living room if you owned it? Several times?

You can get an attorney, but the cost can easily approach the $2200, and you could still lose. Pay for the repairs and hold your parties elsewhere.
Old 11-18-04, 06:44 PM
Doug Aleshire's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 4,680

I agree.

Let's face it, this is a legal issue that cannot be resolved here nor should it be.

Engineer has been called in, lawyer has been called in, Building Dept should be called in but nothing we can say or even should say about this issue. Tragic to see it but we are not lawyers or engineers and in this case, I don't want our comments to be misconstrued as a "resource" in a pending legal issue.

For this reason, it's best to leave this to others outside this Forum and at a local level so smithns can get this resolved as fast as possible.
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