Concrete is the most prevalent building material in existence today, though most people probably don’t notice how widely used the material is until it begins to break up in front of their homes, or falls off of their buildings, roads and bridges. Despite the ubiquity of concrete, the questions of who has the expertise to do repairs on concrete structures and how such repairs should be properly done weren’t being fully addressed even a few decades ago.
To fill that gap in knowledge, and to develop and maintain standards, industry professionals created the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI) in 1988. The group’s mission is to be a leading resource for education and information to improve the quality of repair, restoration and protection of concrete and other structures in accordance with consensus criteria established by industry professionals. A push to build such consensus was another driving force behind the organization's founding.
Off to a Slow Start
The ICRI’s formation began with an industry-wide outcry in February 1988, when attendees at the annual World of Concrete trade seminar voiced great frustration over the lack of industry standards and guidelines for concrete repair.
Attendees were also concerned with growing numbers of unqualified contractors working in the industry who were not properly trained, and who were underbidding qualified contractors, despite not having proper knowledge of surface preparation, equipment, materials and techniques. Clients were dissatisfied—often paying for multiple repairs that weren’t done correctly the first time.
Of even more concern to reputable contractors were systemic problems in the industry that impacted not just some companies' bottom line, but also the overall safety of structures being built and repaired nationwide. Lack of standards and a tide of unqualified contractors put unwitting building residents at risk of being hurt or even killed in a catastrophe—and few were even aware of the danger.