A pool contractor who visited Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida 36 hours before the collapse found disturbing damage to the basement of the condo building.
The entrepreneur told the Miami Herald that he didn’t see anything to worry about in the pool lobby, which looked clean and well-maintained, but the portrait lurking underground was completely different.
“There was standing water all over the parking lot,” said the contractor, who asked not to be named. He noticed cracks in the concrete and badly corroded rebar under the pool.
He also took photos, which he shared with the Florida daily.
The contractor visited the building to prepare a quote for cosmetic restoration and to price the new equipment.
These updates were part of a massive million-dollar restoration project for the building that is 40 years old this year.
The experienced entrepreneur who claims to have visited “spooky places” said he was struck by the lack of maintenance on the lower levels.
The amount of water at the Champlain Towers seemed so unusual that the contractor told a member of the building staff, José, who was showing him around.
“He thought it was sealing issues,” the contractor said of the staff member. “I was like, ‘this is not normal’.”
According to the employee met on site, the water seeped to the point where the motors of the drainage pumps had to be changed every two years.
The deepest standing puddle, according to the contractor, was located around parking lot 78. This area, according to construction plans, is located directly below the pool deck.
In a 2018 inspection report, engineer Frank Morabito reported a “major error” in the original design that allowed water intrusion and caused severe damage to the structural concrete slabs below.
In the pool equipment room, located on the south side of the underground garage, the contractor observed another problem: exposed and corroded rebar in the concrete slab above the head.
He took a few photos and sent them to his supervisor with a note expressing concern that the job might be a little more complicated than expected, the Miami Herald reports.
He was concerned that they would have to remove the pipes from the pool to allow concrete restoration experts to access the slab repair.
The building collapsed two days later, before they had time to complete their bid.