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Major concrete repairs can be costly and disruptive, but avoiding repairs can hamper the efficiency of plant operation. Often the plant manager is caught between these two undesirable choices. The manager of the main warehouse for a department store was faced with a problem of bumpy and raveling joints in the concrete floor. Forklift truck drivers had to slow down and be extremely careful to avoid damaging pallets of merchandise and lift trucks. Because of the reduced speed, the manager had to choose between buying additional lift trucks or increasing the overtime for the drivers. The manager was convinced that the floor, which was only a year old, had not been built properly and felt that the contractor ought to pay for the repairs and the disruption in service.

This example is not an isolated case; rather, it is typical of situations that exist in all types of commercial and industrial buildings. Often, costly repairs could have been avoided (or at least minimized) if the job had been done right the first time. What is the problem? Are the designs and detailing faulty? Are the specifications realistic or have they been ignored? Is the work adequately inspected? Are the procedures for care and maintenance followed? More than likely, the problem is a combination of two or more of these.

Poor detailing, together with little or no design, occurs most often in so-called nonstructural elements such as floors on grade, low retaining walls and residential basement walls. Similarly, the locations and types of reinforcement, such as reinforcement around openings in walls, are often inadequately detailed. The owner, architect, or engineer representing the owner should include complete details on the drawings to ensure that the contractor knows what to do. Also, competent inspection not only helps the owner get what he has specified but also helps the contractor to avoid costly mistakes.