HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – Almost everyone is back home after Thursday’s collapse at a house near Katy. However, two people remained hospitalized as of Friday evening.
At least 50 people were hurt when a floor gave way in a room over the garage. Dozens of people were in that room as part of a religious celebration, when investigators say it was only designed to hold around six people.
Dozens of people scrambled for help, looking for loved ones, wondering what went wrong.
“People were streaming out of the garage area,” said neighbor Christina Ramirez. She watched the chaos unfold from her home next door, with a garage apartment of its own.
“I’d never really thought about it, we have one too but when things like that happen, you wonder how safe they are,” said Ramirez.
Just about every neighborhood has homes that have been remodeled or added onto and there are things you can do to make sure your home is safe.
Jeremy Benefiel owns and runs Red Star Home Inspectors. He’s also a captain with the Houston Fire Department, so when he saw the collapsed garage apartment scene, he knew the risks.
“There were too many people in that home,” said Benefiel.
But it’s hard to say how a homeowner would know that. A room’s weight-bearing limit doesn’t come printed on the wall, especially when it’s not part of the original home.
“When it comes to add-ons like that it’s a wild card, you just don’t know, if they did it right or wrong,” said Benefiel.
He said only a structural engineer can tell you that, and if you’re thinking of converting a new space to live in, bring in a pro to check it out first.
“Is it properly supported from the beginning?” said Benefiel.
He added with the pace of new construction around Houston, corners do get cut, and whether that, or a simple case of overcrowding led to the Katy collapse, it’s a reminder to check out your home’s bones.