Tag Archives: California

21 Century Construction Mistakes: Curious Cases in the USA

Construction failures, if not too tragic in their nature, can cause a certain amusement in some quarters. It certainly does seem inexplicable how projects costing millions of dollars can omit a small detail that can potentially ruin everything.

Buildings are usually in the planning process for years and undergo various evaluations and analyses. Many experts are involved in the different elements and stages of design and construction. Then, especially in the cases of buildings with a public service importance, contractors are chosen only after a careful bidding process. The process of planning and constructing a building is also connected with obtaining a range of permits, approvals, evaluations and insurances. These include, among others, that the selected contractors have to get surety bonds with a surety bond agency, guaranteeing the client the execution of their contractual commitment on the project.

And then again, the wonder remains: how a tiny but crucial detail can sometimes be excluded during this elaborate and painstaking planning process? Below are a few idiosyncratic construction mistakes that will make you really ponder this question.


David L. Lawrence Convention Center

With about 1.5-million sq. ft. in area, the Pittsburgh David L. Lawrence Convention Center was planned in the late 1990s and was built between 2000 and 2003. However, from the very onset of construction, there were some mistakes. The most serious failure came in 2002 when a truss on the eastern end of the Center collapsed.

During construction, the plan for how to support the 15 steel trusses was changed and was not adapted into the schemes. Thus, the bolts on the 13th truss were fastened with the wrong kind of nuts – with locking nuts of either ½” or 1” thickness instead of with anchoring nuts that were 2” thick. Even the inspection of the trusses did not discover this fault because it did not check for the suitability of the nuts. Eventually the locking nuts could not hold the structure and the truss collapsed, killing a worker and injuring two more. Such a case really makes one think about the smallest details because they can cause a huge failure!


Palomar Health Center
Truss 13 of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center
Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Tribune – Review

Tropicana Casino Parking Garage

The next construction collapse was also caused by a minor oversight during the building of the ten-storey parking garage in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The building site was the expansion of the Tropicana hotel, deliberately reminiscent of the style of Old Havana in Cuba. The $245 million project started in 2002 and was supposed to be finished in 2004. The construction failure in 2003, however, prevented this. As in the case of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, the initial construction design was changed in the process, leading to the use of more cost-efficient 8’ mats of rebar instead of individual rods of rebar, as well as shallower and bigger beams. This, along with insufficient steel reinforcements in the concrete and appropriate supports during the pouring of concrete, led to the collapse of the building. Four people were found dead and 20 were injured, making it a particularly gruesome accident.


Palomar Health Center
The collapse of the Tropicana Casino Parking Garage Photo courtesy of the D’Amato Law Firm


Walt Disney Concert Hall

The third example is not precisely a construction failure, as nothing collapsed in the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and nobody was injured. Then again, this is probably the most unlikely mistake because it was executed by the famous architect Frank Gehry, renowned for his eccentric and innovative style and… because of the very nature of the fault. When the rather shiny metal external parts of the construction were completed and exposed to summery sun, it turned out that the reflection of light in the shiny surfaces causes some unexpected problems. It was heating up the neighboring buildings, as well as the sidewalk next to the Hall. The $274-million building had to be sandblasted in order to reduce its glare. Luckily, this had to be done only on 4000 sq. ft. and not on the whole 200,000-square-feet surface of the whole Hall.


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Walt Disney Concert Hall
Wikimedia Commons


Even with the Walt Disney Concert Hall bringing certain lightness in this otherwise grim case history of botched constructions, it seems that meticulousness in the planning and execution of every detail in a construction project is a crucial prerequisite towards its accident-free completion.  It certainly evokes stronger compassion towards construction specialists and contractors.

Starting an Auto Dealership Business in California: Easier with this List

Opening a new auto dealership business can be a cumbersome and nerve-wrecking process if you are starting from scratch. However, there are tips that can make the experience easier and smoother. Here is an essential overview of what you need to do if you are based in the state of California and you are planning to start a new auto dealership business.

The most important part of the process, of course, is obtaining all the state-required permissions and licenses, which would ensure you will start your auto dealership on safe ground and would guarantee your compliance with state regulations. You can find an extensive overview of the state application requirements at the website of the California Department of Motor Vehicles. There is even a Vehicle Dealer Handbook, which will be very useful for you in this process – so do note this link for future reference.

auto dealership in CA
Storm Crypt / Travel Photos / CC BY-NC-ND

The Requirements and the Process

The State of California requires that you get a dealer license before you start your operations, either for selling new or old cars, depending on your business focus. A background investigation will be conducted to check whether you have any criminal convictions. If you fail to inform the Department of any convictions you might have, your dealer license is likely to be refused.

You will have to pay different fees as well, including a non-refundable original application fee and an auto-broker fee, among others. They are all listed and explained in the Handbook under the Fee Schedule.

The next step will be to fill in all the necessary forms, which are available at the California Department of Motor Vehicles’ website. These include New or Used Dealer Application Checklist, Application for Original Occupational License, Surety Bond, Certificate of Proposed Franchise, Application for Occupational License Personal History Questionnaire, and a request for Live Scan Clearance, among others. The full list of applications is clearly provided in the Handbook, so the only thing you have to do is to be thorough and meticulous in filling them out.

Surety Bond: What and how?

Most of the application forms and the requirements of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) are rather straightforward. One of the basic requirements, however, is obtaining a surety bond, which needs further clarification, especially if you have not encountered it beforehand. The concept of such a bond can be a bit tricky to grasp initially, as it is a special kind of guarantee for your clients.

what is surety bond
Learn what is a surety bond and why you need it [Video]
Contrary to popular misconception, this is not a safety scheme for you against people taking you to court – it is a safety net for your potential clients and the state, which guarantees that you will follow the state regulations in your business.  You have to obtain such a bond through a surety bond provider by paying a premium for the guarantee provided. The surety bond company acts as a buffer between you and your client. This means that if you fail to abide by the DMV laws and regulations, the surety guarantees to satisfy these obligations in favor of your client and the state. Thus, the surety bond is, in a way, a stamp of approval and is a credit of trust given to your company.

To get an auto dealer bond, you will have to apply with a surety bond agency, which will review your credit and financial situation. It is possible to get a bond even with a bad credit, but only a few surety bond agencies are able to process this. In general, the process for obtaining the surety bonds is made easier through the use of online application forms, which sometimes can even be approved instantaneously. You can also get a quote online, so that you get the exact amount to be paid for the surety bond.

Furthermore, there are different auto dealer bonds that you can obtain, depending on the needs of your auto dealership business. You might need a retail dealer or a wholesale dealer bond. You can find more information on our California retail dealer bond page. Your surety bond agency will provide you with the necessary information on the best option for your business.

Bond Offers New Options for California Contractors

Many contractors that were planning on starting an LLC (Limited Liability Company) in California found that they were legally unable; but a new bill has changed that. Legislators put a new law in to place allowing contractors to operate as an LLC but in order to do so; they must obtain a large surety bond. (more…)

Surety Bonds for California Contractors

Surety bonds are required for virtually all high profile construction projects to begin, yet they remain a mystery to many. Some have never heard of “surety bonds” or “contractors bonds” as they are commonly referred to in the construction industry, so acquiring one can be unclear all in itself. Bonding requirements vary from one area to another; for those looking to start a construction project in California, the following areas can help define local surety bonding principles: (more…)

Counterfeit Surety Bonds Cost Taxpayer's Millions

There are a lot of businesses out there trying to cut corners in order to save money in this tough economy, but unfortunately this often hurts their clients as a result. A construction contractor in California claimed he had bonds to cover multi-million dollar jobs; but it turned out the contractor possessed surety bonds that were completely fraudulent.

California Mortgage Loan Servicer Bond

California mortgage loan servicers have to abide by a new law that was recently passed. The California Department of Corporations implemented a new law enacted under SB 36 and it requires mortgage loan services to obtain a bond that’s equivalent to the bond required of mortgage lenders, which is $50,000. The new law also requires finance lenders and brokers to acquire a minimum $25,000 bond.

The law also allows the Commissioner of Corporations to establish the required bond amount using regulations for residential mortgage lenders, mortgage servicers, finance lenders and finance brokers if the licensee hires one or more mortgage loan originators. The surety bond will be in a quantity calculated by the dollar amount of residential mortgage loans that the licensee and their loan originators accumulate.