The Leaning Tower Of San Francisco


Are we property tax payers of the City ultimately going to end up footing the repair bills for this mess???

Again, easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, but the article mentions several items that one has to shake his/her head and ask WHY???

  1. In constructing this building, the developer did not drill piles to bedrock or 200 feet down to essentially cut costs. Another classic case of penny-wise and pound foolish. I get it that it is expensive but why would you build such an “iconic” building like this with a shoddy foundation essentially??? Weren’t you just asking for trouble building this way??? I am certainly not a structural engineer or architect but let’s be quite frank my Sunset SFH is now worth way more than any unit in this building now.

  2. The non use of steel framing (which would have been lighter and presumably better), but using older methods of building more common to residential buildings. Yes, Einsteins, residents will live there but it is essentially a commercial skyscraper!!! Idiots!!! @Elt1, I am sure you are capable to chime in on this. Did the developer really F this one up???

If it is going to be an issue, city may ask the owners to get out to Demolish the tower. The owners will pay the price.

Read this

Without knowing the costs of it, I am shocked they didn’t do the initial drilling to bedrock. 200 ft more may be expensive in terms of a construction expense but the cost of fixing this now is going to be astronomical. I mean, how do you redo the foundation of a skyscraper??? Its the classic pay me now or pay me later…


The one I showed in Cupertino, my friend was one of the owners. They had legal challenges, as a HOA, against city. Finally, city won the case and they all need to vacate the homes. When City/County comes, there no way out.

I’d think that’d be dictated by building code and the permitting process. If the city allowed it, they should be liable. Maybe city codes and inspections aren’t that useful. It’s just an illusion they exist to protect us.

City/County are enforcing authority with some codes and standards. To my knowledge, Whatever I understand, city will not be liable. It all goes to builders warranty that should cover it.

Being enforcing authority, City/County can review / re-review building safety as it may become public issue when building collapses.

elt1 or ptiemann may provide additional details as they are close to such issues.

Obviously, the city or county building department do not provide any warranty or accept any liability, even though they have signed off on the plans and later let it pass the inspections.

Think about it. The permit cost for a SFR house is maybe $25k (excluding school fees etc), but there is a liability of up to a few million Dollars… that’s just not going to work.

Most new houses have some defects that anyone with basic knowledge can see right away, but they did pass the final building inspection.

In a perfect world, the building inspector would be present during the entire construction, and monitor everything.

It’s another issue that plans/ designs were accepted that seem to have failed.

Typically, in the beginning, a soils report is done and the soils engineer prescribes how the soil has to be prepared, what kind of foundation shall be done, etc.

I have done a project where the soils engineer was present during the beginning of the project for about 20 hours a week… he oversaw that everything was done according to his soils report’s prescriptions. I’ve done another project where the soils report was reviewed by the builder, but the engineer never came back to witness construction practices.

What I’m saying is, we don’t know that it was built 100% according to the plans. The city would probably not have verified this.

The article says that the building leans to the North-West, but that underground project appears to be south of the highrise. I’m not a soils engineer, but it appears that… wait… I guess I figured it out.

Before they excavated for the tunnel, they “pumped more than $58 million into an underground buttressing system to shore up the Millennium”…

So they added support on the southern side, but not on the northern side. As a result it’s leaning to the North now??

Well, I’m glad this is not my headache.


Headache is right. But the signs are there that the developer is going to blame the digging of the Transbay tunnel so you know what that means. Lawyers and geologists/soil gurus. Many of them. I mean the building was already settling supposedly before the digging of the tunnel but I still would love to hear how much they actually saved by not doing the 200 feet to bedrock. I can’t imagine it would have been that much more (considering the property value we are talking about).

Here we go…Round 1 (ding)

That’s great cities charge $25k to approve plans and inspect a property. That gives us the illusion everything is good with it. I wonder what it’d cost to have periodic independent inspections done. My guess is it’d be less than $25k and more useful. The government is charging a ton of money for a mediocre service.

Wow, it gets better and better…

Sounds like the concerns are a little overblown…2"" out of plumb is no big deal…I have seen new construction 3" out of plumb in just 3 stories…The settlement is a concern but differential settlement is the main concern…I dont own any condos and worry about concrete buildings over 6 stories. .steel is better for highrise

You are kidding right, @Elt1? This is a 50+ floor skyscraper that was built poorly in an area subject to earthquakes. My office is right near there. This sucker is huge. Every unit in that building just lost a major chunk of its value, just like that. Perception is reality in everything and if your property is thought to be unsafe you won’t be able to give these units away. Why did a neighboring tower go out of its way today to declare that it was built to bedrock, unlike the Milleniumm? Because like cancer, you have to make sure it doesn’t spread to you. And keep in mind most of these owners are very smart people who love their money so I bet you anything that every one of them has already called their lawyer to see what kind of recourse is available to them. They are pissed, and I don’t blame them. I would not be surprised if a class action lawsuit is filed against the developer for shoddy workmanship. Then you have the possible lawsuit between the developer and the Transbay Terminal folks. Believe me, this ain’t going away any time soon…

Dont know the whole story…dont care…SF doesn’t interest me…I went to Lick Wilmerding but have little interest in the City…All I know is the media gets hysterical about everything. .If it is so bad why haven’t they evacuated the building? I see it as a chronic isssue…Maybe it will become iconic like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. .Btw, the Bay Bridge has structural issues, too…I like buying buildings with settlement issues, keeps away the competition. …lol…Lived on a 500 year house in England that was 8" out of level in just the length of my bed…

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Bingo, just as I thought:

High-rises typically do not settle at this rate; the Petronas Towers (1999), by comparison, sank only two inches

Who doesn’t build into bedrock, seriously?!

Neighbors are distancing themselves from the leaning tower.

And the big one…

Taxpayers could end up paying for the repairs.

Building to bedrock is not a requirement. .Driving piles to refusal is standard construction. .

Lets make an offer 10cents on the dollar…could be the deal of the century

I helped build the Airport garage and several buildings in SF we never drove piles to bedrock. .

Yeah, and so is buying insurance. Do you have insurance?

The point is not what is required but the stupidity in not doing the extra which was minimum @Elt1 at best. And now, you have this problem.

Again, please do not equate a 50+ high rise to a parking lot @Elt1. And obviously you can say what you want or did in your line of work but the fact remains that this building has settled much more than anticipated. Oops… And don’t tell me if you were an owner of one of these units you wouldn’t be worried. You are a smart man who has made money. Tell me something, @Elt1, when someone F’s up and F’s with your money, are you upset? Right, thought so.