To aid the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works in responding to the Board of Supervisors’ approved motion of July 13, 2021: Assessing the Safety of High-Rise Buildings In Los Angeles County, SEAOSC’s Safer Cities Advisory group distributed a survey to understand the current process used by Structural Engineers to assess existing buildings. Licensed PE and SE members were asked to respond based on recent experiences conducting condition assessments of existing buildings five or more stories in height. The survey included a series of questions with two scenarios: where no structural failure is observed and when a failure occurs. Ninety (90) SEAOSC/SEAOC Members responded, and the majority of respondents practice in Southern California (78%).
A key finding from the survey reported that due diligence for a transaction (real estate, insurance, etc) or a broader evaluation due to a voluntary upgrade or mandatory ordinance-related upgrade are reasons why Condition Assessments are frequently performed. The survey also concluded that Condition Assessments were rarely performed due to specific failure or concerned occupant.
In the scenario where assessments are not due to an observed failure, most of the survey participants noted that they look for deterioration or damage when performing condition assessments. The most common deficiency observed in this scenario is concrete deterioration; however, steel deterioration and design deficiencies were also reported. Furthermore, nearly all respondents reported performing a job walk and review of as-built documentation as part of the condition assessment scope. 92% of respondents also reported prioritizing their findings, with life safety being the overwhelming top priority.
In the scenario where assessments are due to observed failure, the vast majority of respondents reported looking for the cause of damage, checking for conformance with as-build plans, and looking for deterioration when performing condition assessments after a failure. Reported deficiencies from assessments due to observed failure were similar to the previous scenario with concrete deterioration as the most common deficiency observed. However, failure of foundations is reported more frequently in this scenario. In line with the previous scenario, nearly all respondents (96%) reported performing a job walk and review of as-built documentation as part of the condition assessment scope. The majority of respondents prioritized their findings and life safety was again the top priority. Finally, many respondents reported that they will notify the jurisdiction if there are life safety issues or if issues are not addressed in a timely manner.
SEAOSC thanks those who participated in the survey. We value your time and input on this matter.