After a routine inspection by a structural engineer, the owner of this commercial double story corner store came to us with concerns that the structure was unstable and ready to crumble. The signs of structural stress were evident. Large wall cracks had appeared throughout the building due to placement of three mobile phone masts on the roof and adjoining walls in the early 2000s. Constructed in the 1920s, the corner store was never designed to take this level of weight.
Due to contractual obligations with a major mobile phone carrier, pulling the mobile phone masts down was not an option. This is despite the fact they were the cause of the structure’s wall cracks and instability. In addition to the challenges brought on by the sheer load force of the mobile phone masts was corrosion throughout the entire building. Upon closer analysis with our special cameras we found that the 80-year old cavity wall ties holding together external and internal layers of brick had corroded and snapped. The cavity wall ties had not been replaced since the 1920s and both external and internal walls of the corner store had decoupled, putting both at risk of coming down.
We speedily devised a non-invasive solution to return structural integrity to the corner store building. As the mobile phone masts had put weight distribution of the building out of balance, we implemented structural steel rods throughout the external walls to redistribute weight evenly. To recouple the external and internal wall layers, we strategically drilled 5mm pilot holes throughout the building’s walls and inserted brand new cavity wall ties.
Over a thousand brand new wall ties were installed without removing a single brick. By doing so, we were able to both return structural integrity to the heritage corner store and increase the building’s foundational strength to take on the extra force load from the mobile masts. To preserve the building’s heritage character, the brick façade was also re-pointed and repainted for a beautiful looking finish.
The outcome was positive for everyone involved. The mobile phone masts stayed up allowing the building owner to meet his contractual obligations with the mobile carrier. The building’s walls were strengthened to take more weight and the wall cracks were repaired. The whole corner store structure now stands firm and the owner is no longer at risk of it collapsing.