According to city officials, last winter’s rains struck Gilroy’s tallest building–the 162-unit Alexander Station Apartments–before the ceilings were finished and caused the floors to swell.
Luckily, according to building reports, the concrete foundation is solid with no evidence of settling.
Gilroy Chief Building Inspector Rob Allen said the floor material used at Alexander Station absorbed excessive amounts of moisture during last year’s severe storms and that the problem is relatively common in building projects of its size.
The plywood floorboards that sit on the floor joists absorbed the moisture before the completion of the roof, causing them to swell.
“As the construction moved forward, floor levels were added and then finally the roof was completed, protecting the flooring from further moisture intrusion,” Allen said in an email. “At that point, the flooring started to dry out and return to its normal thickness, but since it was now reacting to loads from the building above, it began to compress, causing the slight settling issues.”
Pacific West Builders, the company that owns Alexander Station Apartments, is working to remove the compressed flooring and will replace it with solid wood blocking. Pacific West Builders anticipates that the repairs will fix the settling, which has caused the center of units to sink 1/2 to 5/8 inch.
“Water was absorbed by all that plywood material and some of the glue that was used, which is designed to withstand some weather, but we had so much rain for so long which caused the plywood to absorb more moisture than they thought,” Allen said.
The Alexander Station Apartments, which has been the subject of widespread speculation throughout Gilroy, represents the largest single residential building projects in the city’s history. To ensure that the project passes all necessary inspections, the city has assigned a full-time inspector to the site.
“The construction permit fees pay for the inspector to be there,” Allen said. “We just want the building done and to have it done properly. We need it to be built correctly for our citizens because this is our legacy. It might be their building, but it’s going to be a reflection of our community. We want it to be done well.”
Another item that failed inspection were 25 anchor bolts, which are fasteners used to attach structures to the concrete. The anchor bolts failed inspection in December 2016. According to Allen, the anchor bolt failure is not a major concern and can be fixed.
“Anchor bolts can fail inspection if they are placed in the wrong location, are the wrong size or if they’re not installed properly,” Allen said. “It doesn’t mean that an engineer can’t go back and fix it. They would drill a hole in the concrete and install new anchor bolts. It happens in construction pretty often.”