Knock from Forklift Leaves Bottom Floor of Knox St. Townhome with a Serious Case of the Leans

Townhomes Under Construction at 1301 Knox St. and 5902 Schuler St., Woodcrest, Houston

“Yesterday around 4:30 pm we heard a strange creak, and when we looked across the street, this is what we saw,” reports a Swamplot reader who was at the corner of Knox St. and Schuler in Woodcrest. The unintended lean in the first floor of the westernmost of 2 townhouses under construction on the site was apparently caused by a nudge from a high lift forklift. The 4-story structures at 1305 Knox and 5902 Schuler are under construction by Suca’s Home Builders.

“It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the back of the house has bulged out about a foot as well,” writes reader Matthew, who also reported seeing workers around, in, and on the building today, which he considers “in serious danger” of collapsing.


Townhomes Under Construction at 1301 Knox St. and 5902 Schuler St., Woodcrest, Houston

Townhomes Under Construction at 1301 Knox St. and 5902 Schuler St., Woodcrest, Houston

Townhomes Under Construction at 1301 Knox St. and 5902 Schuler St., Woodcrest, Houston

“Plan A yesterday,” he notes, “was to nudge it back into place. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed.” Earlier this afternoon, he reported seeing “straps connected to various trees, and a chain connected to the offending forklift.” Workers have been at work dismantling the unsheathed structure’s fourth floor.

Townhomes Under Construction at 1301 Knox St. and 5902 Schuler St., Woodcrest, Houston

Photos: Matthew

Don’t Fall for This

16 Comment

  • First of all the workers are idiots. Secondly before everyone here starts screaming that townhomes are built crappy, the structure was hit at a very vulnerable point, before sheathing went on. Sheathing gives the structure shear rigidity and makes the whole thing 1,000 times stronger.

  • they probaby are going to have to tear it down are start over as now they builder has to list this in their disclosures and who’d wanna risk buying the problem property unless it was on the cheap and I’m sure any competitor builders in the area will make sure to let everyone know it was repaired if they don’t knock this down. This is a very sad and unwanted situation for the developer.

  • Bring me that come-along, rapido!, rapido!, rapido!

  • While this may have been at a very vulnerable point, one of the workers did admit to me today that they needed to do more bracing than what they had done.

  • I’m sure everyone on this site will chuckle at this builders mis-fortune.

  • @ Matthew: A worker is not a structural engineer. A worker does not makes plans. A worker does not submit them them through code enforcement for a permit. A worker does not inspect buildings to ensure code compliance. A worker does not understand building life cycle issues. A worker is not a forensic engineer. A worker is the guy that works on the crew that drove a forklift into an unsheathed wood-frame structure. He should not be assumed to be competent at anything other than his everyday vocation.

    Hopefully the builder is well-insured and/or required that their subs are bonded.

  • Anytime you work with someone who’s had experience managing a job site you know because they repeat themselves over and over again in order to “hammer it in”. In this case the owner will call the architect. The architect will call the engineer. The engineer will call the contractor. The contractor will call the foreman. The foreman will call the sub. The sub will call the sub he hired. And if you’re lucky you get a few more subs before you reach Pedro who knows a guy who knows a different guy who knows a guy with a hammer that doesn’t really hammer all that much….. Somewhere in the mix is a code inspector with about as much ego as Fire Marshal Bill from In Living Color and when he shows up nobody knows nothin’ because your foreman knows that he’s about 5 levels deep in shit. He doesn’t know who drove what nail where and who plummed what because the person who actually ended up doing it was a sub of a sub of a sub. Add in any language deficiency and you’ve got yourself a game of “telephone” on such a massive scale that by the time a command of “Start framing floor 2” comes from the top all the end of the chain hears is “Floor one is done”.

  • If you take apart historic houses in Houston, you will see that angle bracing was built into the frame. This is not done anymore because it is slow and requires skill. Instead builders rely on sheathing to stabilize a house. Before it goes on, there are just some 2×4’s nailed temporarily to the outside of the frame, not built into it. Hence the house of cards situation we see here.

  • @ Niche: you’re right. But experienced construction workers sometimes see things that the engineers didn’t. When they do, they are expected to bring it to the GC’s attention. If the GC agrees that there are questions with the design, he will forward the question to the architect, who will work with the engineer to get an answer. It’s outlined in the RFI (Request for Information) process.
    @ Toby: I hope your engineer isn’t calling the Sub Contractors directly. It might seem like an easy way to do things, but coordination can get really out of hand if it happens too much. Generally communications should funnel through the architect on the AE side, and through the General Contractor on the contracting side. Part of why you’ve got such Keystone Cops-esque problems on your projects may be that you don’t have the lines of communication right.

  • Decades ago, I worked summers in a lumber yard and often operated a forklift. I learned how by watching the old guys (when they weren’t drinking behind the wood piles). It was a blast, and there were none of those tiresome hard hats, seat belts, or any training whatsoever. Drove Hysters of several sizes. Those were the days….

  • I think that were a bit more than a bump or a nudge by the forklift operator. No doubt this Shiny Turd will be salvaged and sold to yet another gentrifying numbskull.

    And in my end of the building industry there is a saying about architects… “You can’t shit through a paper asshole.”

  • Wow, just…wow. Whoever was in charge of that is gonna get canned. That whole thing is going to need to be restarted from scratch, without a doubt.

  • Italy has the leaning tower…Houston has the leaning townhome. The tourist marketing writes itself.

  • Clearly that is no Fort Knox. Reminds me of the ones which collapsed on Heights Blvd.

  • It may look different in person, but these photos seem to reflect the biggest un-engineered 1st floor piece of shit I’ve seen in a long time. Spindly, unbraced 2x4s, 16″ OC holding up two floors above it ?

  • Crazy story! I have seen a building frame fall before, the same way.. Great article..