Lubbock Building Officials Propose Inspection Changes - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/2/05

Lubbock Building Officials Propose Inspection Changes

Back in December, RTR Engineers of Lubbock evaluated the original architect on the Holiday Inn Express hotel three years after it was built. What they found was alarming...a chance the hotel could collapse if the right amount of pressure was present. But something you may find more alarming, the city's building inspection department approved all the plans before the hotel was constructed.

When anything is built in the city of Lubbock, the city must approve the contractors construction plans. Then a permit is issued and then a final on-site inspection happens. In 2000-2001, that's exactly what happened. "They submitted it for review. Initially, there were problems with the contractor. They changed contractors two or three times before they finally decided on one," said Steve O'Neil, Chief Building Inspector.

O'Neil speaks vaguely about this because he was not the chief during that time. But after looking over original architect plans on the hotel, he noticed there were some red flags. For instance, RTR Engineers completed a report December 6th, 2004 and concluded the hotel architect plans were "poorly executed, poorly detailed, very incomplete, not adequate to build from."

However because the city does not have structural engineers on staff, building inspectors look for the licensed stamp on plans designed by architects and engineers. "We can place a certain level of trust in their abilities," said O'Neil.

"What kind of position does that put you in? If you see red flags and you see a seal, then what do you do?" asked NC11. "Ordinarily, if you see a red flag, whether it's under an engineers seal or not that should cause that reviewer to contact that engineer and request verification," said O'Neil.

NewsChannel 11 has learned the Houston architect who sold his plan to the hotel owner is under investigation by the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners in Austin. According to our source, the architect is suspected of selling inadequate drawings all over the state of Texas.

Meanwhile, O'Neil says he wants to change the review process that would also involve structural engineers. He will have to propose that idea to the Lubbock City Council.

Holiday Inn Express Shuts Down Indefinitely
Holiday Inn Express owners have agreed to shut its doors and bring the hotel up to codes.

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