Building Collapse

Published Nov. 11, 2020 by collinsokere

Nigeria has witnessed a continuous increase in the number of Building collapse in recent times especially in Lagos State. According to the Eagle Online report, about 135 cases of building collapse were recorded in Lagos within a period of 7 years and according to the Conversation research , at least 50 of the reported cases happened during the construction phase. This shows why approved standards and procedures must be strictly followed in building construction. 

While there are several reasons for building collapse, top among them are:

1. Poor Foundation

Building a foundation is the most important part of any building construction works. No matter what is done right, if the foundation is poor the building cannot stand. Common foundation types used in construction include strip foundation, raft foundation and pile foundation. The choice of foundation depends largely on the type of structure, building load as well as the soil type/structure of the site.

Strip foundations can be used for most subsoils, but are most suitable for soil which is of relatively good bearing capacity. They are particularly suited to light structural loadings such as those found in many low-rise or medium-rise domestic buildings – where mass concrete strip foundations can be used.

A raft foundation is often used when the soil is weak, as it distributes the weight of the building over the entire area of the building, and not over smaller zones (like individual footings) or at individual points (like pile foundations). This reduces the stress on the soil.

Pile foundations are principally used to transfer the loads from superstructures, through weak, compressible strata or water onto stronger, more compact, less compressible and stiffer soil or rock at depth, increasing the effective size of a foundation and resisting horizontal loads.

No matter how costly the foundation type, Care must be taken not to cut cost at the detriment of the integrity of the foundation because when buildings collapse the amount saved from not doing the right thing cannot be compared to the collateral damage that is experienced in building collapse.

2. Use of substandard building materials

The use of substandard building materials has also contributed largely to the collapse of several buildings. Material quality must be tested in government-approved laboratories and results documented. Any material that does not meet the approved standard must not be used on site.

3. Poor Workmanship

No matter the quality of materials on-site, If the workmanship is not right, the outcome cannot be right. Many employ the services of unskilled or poorly trained professionals to undertake the task of highly trained professionals. Their lack of sufficient skill on the job coupled with the meager amount they are paid will amount to low productivity from them. Lapse in judgement like what step should be taken immediately after an incidence, wastage of building materials which will amount to further loss when not managed properly, poor work output, poor interpersonal skills, and flawed project delivery are part of the downsides of hiring unskilled labour. While this practice may appear cheaper, the resultant effect is disastrous.

4. Building Overload

Every building you see standing was designed to carry an amount of load/weight on it. Whenever the building load exceeds what it was originally designed to carry, building collapse is inevitable. This is why the building design must be adhered to. If a building was originally designed as a bungalow, converting it to a storey building without the involvement of the structural engineer may be the beginning of the end of that structure.

5. Poor maintenance of the building

Periodic maintenance of buildings especially high rise buildings is crucial for them to remain habitable and have a good appearance after a long time. Proper building maintenance does not only help to protect the building from damage but also the occupants. Regular maintenance is always more cost-effective because precaution is easier and more economical than fixing the problem.

There are guidelines and principles that must be followed when building a home. At REFin Homes, we follow global best practices in building safe and habitable homes for you and your loved ones. Schedule a call with a consultant.

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