Peer Review Challenges with a Historic Building

In the span of over a decade, a major cell service provider outfitted a historic metro-west Boston building as a cell service tower.  The work included installing an equipment room in the attic space, installing cell signal transmitters in the cupola, and reinforcing attic floor framing and roof truss framing. 

The wood-framed structure was built in 1858 as the village’s townhouse.  It has two floors plus an unfinished attic space, and including the cupola, the structure rises approximately 65 feet from the ground.  CBI was engaged to perform a peer review of design calculations and construction drawings related to the cell service infrastructure installations and structural reinforcing.

Loose bolt on right

CBI discovered a number of inadequacies in the initial design calculations and in the construction drawings.  Most notable were the errors made by the contractor in implementing reinforcing of the existing roof trusses.  These trusses were constructed with heavy timber top and bottom cords and vertical iron rods.  The construction drawings required that new supplemental wood diagonal members be bolted to the existing timber chords.  During a site visit to confirm that the as-built reinforcing agreed with the construction drawings, CBI found loose bolts, missing bolts, and wood diagonals that were split because of bad fastener installation practices.  We advised the owner that the repair of these deficiencies is the responsibility of the contractor that was engaged by the cell service provider.  CBI expects to visit the site again soon with the owner and the cell service provider to discuss the needed remediation to the timber truss reinforcements.