Causes of Building Collapse and Solutions

The news of a collapsed building is always devastating especially when lives are lost. Over years and recent research have attributed these self-inflicted disasters had been avoidable. In this post, we will examine some major causes of building collapse and also create possible ways to avoid them.

The major causes of building collapse are in various degree. Some can be attributed to regulatory bodies while some of individual irresponsibility, these causes are elucidated below:

  • Ineffective Regulatory Body

There had been a rapid increase in building collapse in third-world nations and developing countries like Nigeria in recent years and it has been largely attributed to the non-functional or non-existent regulatory bodies that govern the affairs of building construction.

  • Construction Without an Approved Building Plan and Engineers

Many people build and live in houses that have no approval plan, and worse, buildings that were not supervised by qualified structural engineers, they build with just artisans. Some skip following due construction processes to save costs but end up losing the property. This is dangerous and has caused the collapse of many buildings.

  • Foundations not designed to specifications

Foundation design is a function of the building to be built and also the soil texture (bearing capacity). You can’t design for a one-story building and build a skyscraper over it. It might cost more to build a proper foundation, but it pays well too because when there’s a collapse, resources that were spent have all been lost. And it is even worse if a life was lost as no amount of money can compensate for the loss of even one life. Besides the foundation of the building, the ground on which the building will stand is equally important. Some buildings with foundations have collapsed because they were built on the swampy or untested ground. Structural Engineer conducts soil tests to ascertain what type of foundation needed for certain building designs.

  • Decadence Due to Age

The lifespan for modern buildings (concrete and glass curtain wall) is 60 years. And 120 years for a conventionally built building (masonry and wood). This is according to a recent colloquium at the Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA, USA. When buildings begin to depreciate towards the end of its year, it is dangerous and irresponsible for individuals to remain in such dilapidated buildings, especially when it has already been marked for vacation and demolition.

  • Low-Quality Building Materials

Building with unfit or substandard building materials for whatever reason is dangerous as this is also one of the major causes of building collapse in third-world nations. It is better not to build until one is adequately prepared financially to avoid the collapse of the building resulting from using low-quality building materials.

  • Accommodating Beyond Capacity

Every building has a capacity which it can hold. This is especially true for story buildings. When buildings are subjected to hold and accommodate people and things that go beyond what they can hold, the buildings themselves will get weak very quickly and can collapse.

Preventing Building Collapse

Building collapse is a man-made disaster that can be avoided. Here are some ways to prevent it:

  1. Follow due process
  2. Build with an approved plan
  3. Build with a trusted construction company/engineer
  4. Build with standard building materials
  5. Build on the tested ground and result interpreted
  6. Don’t overload the building with people or heavy equipment