Acceptable pitch of modern concrete apartment bldg?


macrumors G3
Original poster
Jul 10, 2007
Any structural engineers here?

We just moved into a 30 story rental condo near McCormick Place in Chicago. The building was was built in 2009. It faces Lake Michigan and there are no buildings between it and the lake, so I guess you could call it lakefront. Near South Side.

There are some train tracks, streets, and parking lots between us and the lake. They basically run directly behind the building. We hear trains and cars, faintly, thanks to double glazed windows.

The building is solid concrete. We barely hear anything from our neighbors above, below, left, or right, except the occasional faint sound of a chair being dragged across a floor above us.

All in all, a solid, quiet modern building.

But we just got some new furniture delivered and we’re noticing odd things. In our king bed, my side of the bed feels oddly lower than my wife’s side. When I roll towards the center of the bed, it feels like I’m rolling uphill.

A dresser we brought from our previous apt is visibly not parallel to to the wall. It never leaned in our old building. And I’m noticing that the drawers creep out if I don’t push them all the way in. Never experienced that in our old apt.

When we walk across the carpeted bedroom, there’s a vague sensation of walking downhill. west to’s a slight sinking feeling, an imbalance.

And most telling, on the hard floors in the living room, if I put a brass cylinder weight onto the floor, it rolls in the direction of; the lower side of the bed, the angle of the tilted dresser, and jibes with the direction of our feeling of walking downhill.

There’s also a crack in our bathroom ceiling, running west to east across much of the ceiling. I don’t know if it goes beyond cracked paint or plaster.

Many vertical surfaces and doorways, and most areas of the floor show a negative 1-2 degree pitch using an iPhone level app. If there’s a 1 degree slope from one end of an iPhone to the other, doesn’t that translate to a pretty significant slope from one end of the apartment to the other?

One of the maintenance guys in the building said the crack in the bathroom ceiling was due to “natural settling”. I find this naturally unsettling.

The guy who delivered our bed said he’s seen concrete floor apartments where the floor in the bedroom isn’t leveled with the same degree of accuracy as the rest of the place if the intention is to carpet the room.

I haven’t seen any obviously visible leaning, aside from my dresser not being parallel with the wall. And I haven’t seen or felt any structural movement or vibration. But this building is probably built on old landfill or sand, being this close to the lake, and it makes me nervous. We moved from NYC where we lived for 25 years in a 6 floor 1908 brick prewar structure that was rock solid and perfectly level.

It makes me wonder how often someone from the city/state comes out to check the integrity of modern buildings? Being that it’s a condo building, I would imagine there would be some very upset owners if there were structural issues in the building.

Is a 1-2 degree pitch acceptable/normal? Is it something that should be reported to authorities? I feel like the management company would try to keep it quiet.

We just moved in. It was hell getting here and getting settled. I’d hate to move again so soon.
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macrumors 6502a
May 30, 2011
If there’s a 1 degree slope from one end of an iPhone to the other, doesn’t that translate to a pretty significant slope from one end of the apartment to the other?
1 degree is 1 degree wether it is measured over 1" or 4000 miles :)

If I was "feeling" a tilt on the 2nd floor of a half-timbered house, I'd shrug it off.

In a modern 30 story house, I'll start packing regardless what the experts might say.


macrumors 603
Jan 24, 2012
The concrete floor you see and walk on ain't the concrete (horizontal) load bearing structure - so that doesn't mean the building is about to collapse.

And I'd say an iPhone isn't the best way to measure long distances. The floor seems to be uneven - whether that's covered within building tolerances or not is a different question and I can't comment on that - but that 'slope' may go into the other direction after a couple of meters or even less just as well.

I'd ask the management anyway.


macrumors G3
Original poster
Jul 10, 2007
Thanks folks. I'm a little nervous about approaching management. Supposing the floor dip is a known issue, this is a multimillion dollar condo building, and I'm a lowly renter. I could envision a scenario where they don't want to risk condo sales because of some whiny renter spotlighting a structural problem.
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