Tag Archives: New Jersey

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!


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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.

New Jersey Off-Track Wagering Facility Bond

Wagering Facility Bond
The State of New Jersey has enacted a new law concerning off-track wagering facilities. The new law is named SB 3185 and requires a $1MM surety bond of off-track wagering facilities who become licensed on or after the effective date of this law. The bond guarantees the licensees compliance with laws and regulations. SB 3185 is effective going back to December 31, 2011.

New Jersey School Board Bond

New JerseyNew Jersey State enacted a new bill relating to local school boards. The new bill is named SB 1287 states that local school boards lacking a treasurer of school funds must have its secretary of the board to execute the responsibilities of the treasurer. The new bill requires the secretary to acquire a surety bond in of a quantity that the school board will establish. The present law already requires the secretary of the board to attain a surety bond of at least $2,000, conditioned on the authentic execution of responsibilities of the office. SB 1287 states that if there is no treasurer available, the secretary would not be asked to acquire a supplementary surety bond if they are an officer of the municipality, which constitutes the district, if the surety bond they gave guaranteeing the truthful execution of their municipal responsibilities also covered and guaranteed the dependable performance of their responsibilities as secretary. Additionally, a certificate of coverage with adequate quantities for the municipal and the board position should be certified to the local school board.

New Jersey Mortgage Broker Bond

New JerseyThe state of New Jersey introduced a new law concerning residential mortgage brokers. The new law, which is named AB 3186, requires residential mortgage lenders and brokers to acquire a blanket surety bond in a quantity no less than $25,000 from a surety company permitted to do business within the State. The Commissioner of Banking and Insurance will establish the surety bond amount required through the regulations. The surety bond will cover the broker or lender’s qualified licensees, all mortgage loan originators and the broker or lender’s other staff and individual agents. The surety company has the option to terminate the surety bond with 30 days notification. AB 3186 encloses a net worth stipulation in addition to the surety bond for mortgage lenders, brokers and loan originators.

New Jersey Recreational Vehicle Dealer Bond

New JerseyIn the state of New Jersey, a new law was enacted regarding vehicle sales. The new law, titled SB 521, decreases the required surety bond amount to perform an off-site sale of recreational vehicles (RVs) from $500,000 to $10,000. SB 521 did not alter the bond amount required for an off-site motor vehicle sale, but it would have trimmed down the bond amount to $10,000 for such a sale. The new law states that if the surety bond is cancelled before the conclusion of the off-site sale for both motor vehicles and RVs, the dealer must acquire and file a substitute surety bond without delay with the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission. SB 521 became active upon enactment.

New Jersey Driving School Bond

One of the requirements for obtaining a Driving School License from The New Jersey MVC (Motor Vehicle Commission) is to obtain a $10,000 Surety Bond. The Motor Vehicle Commission handles the issuance of licenses that allow driving schools and their instructors to function within the state of New Jersey. This also allows those specific private driving school owners and particular instructors or agents to procure student learners permits, examination permits, schedule road tests, etc.

As in most cases there are certain requirements for obtaining a license and some of those necessary for the New Jersey Driving School License are: The business is required to have a separate agency location or a home office separated from the living accommodations with a private entrance. The business cannot be located near or outwardly show that is it officially connected with Motor Vehicle Commission. The driving school cannot be operated from a liquor store, bar, grocery store, restaurant, temporary address, etc. The school must have a trained supervising teacher who’s licensed for at least two years and has completed at least 500 hours of behind the wheel training along with a three-credit college course from a state-accredited university or college.

The school requires zoning consent from the town where the business is located, ensuring that the building will meet each of the state and local zoning ordinances which consist of building, fire and health codes and any other applicable ordinances and codes.

All driving schools must make available an explanation of services to be rendered, the fees for the school and description of information on the service agreement.
The driving school must also adhere to all conditions set forth in the sample service agreement. The service agreements must give all information contained in the state-provided sample service agreement.

The driving school students have requirements as well. Each student must meet the following requirements prior to the driving school instructors being able to proceed with the lessons: Each student must be at least 16 years of age; they must pass the vision test providing certification from the school nurse, Motor Vehicle Commission representative, owner of the driving school or eligible supervising instructor.

There are four items that must be present at the location of the business for the scheduled site investigation from the MVC. The state requires a landline telephone, an answering machine for the phone, file cabinet(s) and a safe that have the ability to be locked when unattended and dual controlled vehicle(s) that are owned or leased and registered in the name of the driving school or lessor.

For further or more detailed information please visit New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission website.