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STRUCTURAL FACTORS THAT CAUSE BUILDING FAILURES
Background of the Study
The reoccurrence menace of building failure in Lagos State and its environs has been generating a lot of reactions from both the general public and stakeholders in the building construction industry. According to Oloko (2009), hardly will a year end without recording an incident of building failure in Lagos State. When building failure occurs, the State Government reacts that such collapsed structure is forfeited to the government as punitive measure without taking further steps to sanction the professionals who approved such buildings.
Buildings serve as shelters for humans and their belongings. They must be properly planned, designed and erected to obtain desired satisfaction from the environment. The factors to be observed in building construction include durability, adequate stability to prevent its failure or discomfort to the users, resistance to weather, fire outbreak and other forms of accidents. The styles of building construction are constantly changing with the introduction of new materials and techniques of construction. Consequently, the work involved in the design and construction stages of buildings are largely that of selecting materials, components and structures that will meet the expected building standards and aesthetics on economy basis.
Building failure is an unacceptable difference between expected and observed performance in building. Failure can be considered as occurring in a component when that component can no longer be relied upon to fulfill its principal functions. Limited deflection in a floor which causes a certain amount of cracking/distortion in partitions could reasonably be considered as defect but not a failure, whereas excessive deflection resulting in serious damage to partitions, ceilings and floor finishes could be classed as a build failure (Roddis, 1993). Building failure can be described as a deformation or cracks in any structural components of the building which may lead to the collapse of the building. A failure in an older building may be caused by lack of adequate maintenance.
Failure in buildings can broadly be attributed either to defects or deterioration. Richardson (1992) stated that, defects arise due to error or omission, that is, breach of contract or negligence by a designer or contractor, but deterioration is a natural process which may be unavoidable, although minimized by care in design and the selection of materials. However,
where the rate of deterioration is excessive, it may be due to defect, such as the selection and use of unsuitable materials, or to event such as a cracking and distortion of beams.
The defect in a structural and non structural element/component of a building which is attributable to defective design, defective or faulty workmanship or defective materials or any combination of these can be termed as failure in building (Richardson, 1992). Jack (1978) stated that structural components of a building are those elements that bear the load while the non-structural components are those elements that are movable in a building. Structural failure refers to loss of the load-carrying capacity of a component or member within a structure or of the structure itself. Structural failure is initiated when the material is stressed to its strength limit, thus causing fracture or excessive deformations. The ultimate failure strength of the materials, component or system is its maximum load-bearing capacity. When this limit is reached, damage to the material has been done, and its load- bearing capacity is reduced permanently, significantly and quickly. In a well-designed system, a localized failure should not cause immediate or even progressive collapse of the entire structure.
Richardson (1992) stated, that structural failures are the result of over-stressing, that is, the imposition of loads in excess of the capacity of the structural components. Collapse is, of course, the ultimate and most serious result, but over-stressing is also evident at earlier stages through development of distortion and fractures. If a structure is correctly designed and constructed in accordance with the design, over-stressing indicates some other inadequacies such as the use of an unsuitable material. Harold (1980) identified the prominent components of a building, as foundation, columns, beams, slabs, floors, lintels, roofs and walls.
Structural factors are the deformation, distortion, excessive tension and defects encountered by each of the structural components of the building which leads to the collapse of the building. Several structural factors and defects affect each of these components which lead to building failure. Building failure occur due to the inadequate structural design or construction for the required structural loadings of all the structural component in the building, but structural failure can still occur, even with correct design and construction, if materials that are used are unsuitable or subsequently deteriorate.
The incident of building collapse in Lagos State has constituted a serious concern to property owners and the stakeholders in the construction industry (Oloko, 2009). According to Alli (2009), within the last three years, not fewer than 32 persons died in the state as a
result of series of building collapse. The highest figure was recorded in July 18, 2006, when 28 persons died when a four-storey building collapsed in Ebute Meta area of Lagos State (Nigeriaworld, September 28, 2007).
The building that is well designed and constructed is required to satisfy the basic needs, which include the following: resistance to penetration of rainwater, sun, and protection against wind. Buildings are also expected to regulate heat (thermal insulation), insulate sound, and provide resistance to fire outbreak and security to man and materials among others. Ezeji (1984) observed that these are the basic functions of buildings. He explained that, buildings that do not satisfy these functions have not satisfied the objectives of their construction. Non-satisfaction of the objectives could result from lack of technical expertise required and good workmanship of construction activities of such building.
According to the report of the Lagos State Physical Planning and Development authority, 800 buildings located in various Local Government Areas of Lagos State are currently in a precarious state (Nigeriaworld, September 28, 2007). Investigations have been carried out on those structures to further test and determine their structural stability. In most of these buildings, structural defects of various forms have been detected. These defects range from roof leakage, damaged doors and windows, wall cracks, collapsing roof (Richardson, 1991). These defects could have resulted from boycotting of the professionals of building construction activities. Therefore, the likely causes would be traced to human factors like employment of unqualified building construction specialist to be in charge of project design and qualities, lack of up to date skills and experiences of building engineers and technicians, poor estimations, organization; co-ordination and supervision, purchasing of sub-standard materials by the building clients or the non-performance of government agents in charge of the building constructions’ quality control and planning.
According to Ofori (2000), the issue of improved service delivery of building construction and proper awareness of the building clients to the call to use standard and quality materials is very crucial. He observed that as building owners become more aware in their understanding of construction processes, they tend to employ the services of less competent contractors who are not certified by Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB). Therefore, for the achievement of best results and positive changes in the Building construction industry, the awareness of the problems and the possible solutions needed are to be appreciated not by the clients only, but by all who are involved in building construction processes.
Alan (2002) opined that Lagos State have so much prominence today because of its nearness to water. Its closeness to water naturally gave room for shipping ports in these areas, shipping port in turn promotes commercial activities, and commercial activities naturally generates heavy human traffic and human being requires shelter for himself, his goods and services. So buildings spring up in these places and that brings competition for very few available spaces in these areas. Hence to meet demands, designers and building constructors settle for multi-storey buildings because of increasing economic value of these areas.
Statement of the Problem
A standard building should be able to withstand all external forces imposed on it during the lifespan of such building. Building design however, according to merit (2000), is the process of providing all information necessary for construction of a building that will meet its owner’s requirements and also satisfy public health, welfare, and safety requirements. Merrit (2000) further stated some principles and specifications which the buildings must follow; the building should be constructed to serve purposes specified by the client; the building should be capable of withstanding the elements and normal usage for a period of time specified by the client; both inside and outside, the building should be visually pleasing; the building should be constructed to minimize adverse impact on the environment.
Lockley (2008) stated some building failure problems which include, fault in design, an error in this situation is a gross mistake, not a negligible computation error or construction divergence. Most building craftsmen lack of adequate knowledge and skill in building construction. Poor workmanship and non-involvement of the experts and professionals in the building construction is part of the problem facing the building industry which need argent attention. Building fail or do poorly because of detailing errors, wrong construction methods, inferior building materials, lack of necessary tests or proper construction supervision (Roddis, 1993). These are also problems which are hindering the building industry from reducing the rate of building failure. These problems are not limited to human errors in design only but, the inappropriate construction techniques of professionals. Inadequate design for temporary structures and contractor’s failure to build in accordance with drawings and specifications can also be added to the problem building failure. Use of inferior or sub-standard building materials is another probable problem which its effect on building shortly after the construction stage. Another problem is the defective site selection
and site development mistakes, building failure often result from wrong land utilization or site selection choices. The most understandable instances are the sites located in area where mine had been carried out, a coastal region, and a waterlogged area.
Building codes of practice universally accepted are available for the design and construction of buildings and these codes should be followed as a guide for the construction of standard building by the building team. A high level of skill is needed in designing and constructing buildings, competence and craftsmanship from the team, which include the Architects, the Engineers or Contractor (Structural, Mechanical and Electrical). It is important to retain competent engineers for design and supervision, and to accomplish this, the architects should recommended this to the clients and contractors. This fact has necessitated the need to identify the structural factors that cause building failures.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to determine the structural factors that cause building failures in Lagos State. Specifically, the study will determine;
(1) The structural factors that cause foundation failure in building.
(2) The structural factors that cause wall failure in a building.
(3) The structural factors that cause floor failure in a building.
(4) The structural factors that cause failure in columns and beams of a building.
(5) The structural factors that cause roof failure in a building.
Significance of the Study
The findings of this study will be of immense benefit to the general public, building clients, the construction industries, industrial technical educators, and the Local, State and the Federal governments. The entire residents of Lagos State will benefit from the findings of this study because, after some of these structural factors have been identified and the recommendation proffer is strictly adhered to without favoritism, this will reduce building failure.
The general public will benefit from the findings of the study, because the building owners and the occupants are assured and guaranteed of safety of lives and properties in their respective buildings if the buildings are built to normal specifications. There will also be good condition of shelter with reduced risk of hazards, adequate security, and comfort of a well designed and constructed building in the situation where the floor and wall of building has high resistance to fire and moisture.
The draftsmen will be able to appreciate the advantage of training and retraining in order to meet up with the dynamic change in the world technology. The technicians will stand to benefit new skills from new discovery and emerging technologies.
These professionals will through the findings of this study be able to determine the capacity of loads which each of the structural component of the building is carrying with the help of computer aid design and simulation.
The findings of this study will be of benefit to the architects, engineers and builders in the area of load bearing, it will enable them to be aware of the varied forces being imposed on building, and of which the buildings can not withstand. The study will enable the stakeholders to consider the load-bearing capacity of each of the structural component, during construction, and make them to know that loads play a role in how a building is designed, where it is located, what materials and methods are used in its construction, and how it is maintained and used. The engineers will be able to acquit themselves with the modern techniques calculating the load bearing capacity of any building.
The findings of this study will equip the Lagos State Government Physical Planning Authority and the Nigerian Institute of Building to know which of the factors mostly the failure due to the use of sub-standard buildings materials. The findings of the study will help in promoting standards and quality of the building construction industry and reduce the risk of building collapse in Lagos State and its environs. This development will help towards the effective construction of building with less risk of failure.
In other to determine the structural factors that causes building failure in Lagos State, the following research questions were formulated;
(1) What are the structural factors that cause foundation failure in building?
(2) What are the structural factors that cause wall failure in a building?
(3) What are the structural factors that cause floor failure in a building?
(4) What are the structural factors that cause columns and beams failure in a building?
(5) What are the structural factors that cause roof failure in a building?
The study will be guided by the following hypotheses which will be tested at 0.05 level of significance.
(1) There is no significant difference in the mean responses of the Architects, Structural Engineers, Building Technicians on the structural factors that cause the foundation failure.
(2) There is no significant difference in the mean responses of the Architects, Structural Engineers, Building Technicians on the structural factors that cause the wall failure.
(3) There is not significant difference in the mean responses of the Architects, Structural Engineers, Building Technicians on the structural factors that cause the floor failure.
(4) There is no significant difference in the mean responses of the Architects,
Structural Engineers, Building Technicians on the structural factors cause the columns and beams failures.
(5) There is no significant difference in the mean responses of the Architects, Structural Engineers, Building Technicians on the structural factors that cause roof failure.
Delimitation of the Study
This study is delimited to determine the structural factors that are causing building failure in Lagos State. The study covered Lagos State of Nigeria.
The study is delimited to determining the structural factors causing; foundation failure, wall failure, floor failure, failure in columns and beams and failure of roof in buildings around Lagos State. The study did not cover other factors like environmental that can cause building failure.
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