Over the past years, news updates have been filled with stories of buildings collapsing in different parts of Nigeria at an alarming rate. Structures which were once standing tall, have been reduced to rubble and ruins.
These incidents have raised serious concerns over the safety of residents and homeowners. According to the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute in a report by the BBC, 199 people died in four Nigerian collapsed buildings between 2014 and 2016.
We’ll be identifying some significant reasons for the collapse of buildings and solutions to them.
a. Quality of Building Materials
Substandard building materials are not strong enough to keep buildings standing for long. However, many contractors and building personnel, in a bid to save costs or outsmart their clients, often use counterfeit and low-grade building materials, which could eventually fail and lead to collapse.
Moreover, testing facilities aren’t adequate or readily available to determine the quality and strength of materials such as steel reinforcement bars and concretes, which are very vital in building processes.
b. Failure to Conduct Soil Investigation and Tests
Soil tests are a fundamental practice in building construction. Soil tests let the builders determine the soil strata and its bearing capacity. These tests determine the type of foundation to be used in the construction. Failure to conduct soil tests could result in building collapse.
c. Incompetent Building Contractors
Hiring Inexperienced and ill-equipped contractors could be detrimental to the construction of a building. These contractors might defy standard building principles, leading to poor construction and eventual collapse.
Furthermore, it is the duty of building contractors to carry out their operations in line with the specifications and blueprints of architects and engineers, so if they fail to do so, it could spell doom for the construction project.
d. Illegal Alterations to Existing Structures
It’s a common practice to make ‘adjustments’ and ‘additions’ that defy the original structure of buildings in Nigeria. These include adding an extra storey (which could increase the pressure on the foundation). Another example is changing the function of a building. (e.g changing the first floor of a home residence to a business unit or factory, which might involve the use of heavy equipment and machinery, weakening the structure in the process) .
Some alterations require permission and approvals from designated authorities to be regarded as legal.
e. Natural Forces
Natural occurrences such as earthquakes, floods and heavy storms could cause a building to collapse. Many reported cases of collapsed buildings have been caused by natural disasters.
f. Absence of Monitoring, Inspection and Supervision of Construction Works
Construction works are to be properly monitored and inspected by professionals and government officials. In many cases, these officials fail to do so, and such negligence could lead to building collapse.
What Can Be Done to Avoid Building Collapse?
- Building experts must uphold professional ethics and work in accordance with standard industry procedures and policies, always.
- Adequate supervision and monitoring of construction works must be mandated by concerned authorities, to ensure that they are done in accordance with the established regulations.
- Construction industry professionals must deploy the geophysical survey data in their building designs.
- The general public must be adequately informed and sensitized on the importance of engaging trusted professionals and experts in construction works to avoid collapse and ensure safety.
- All necessary tests, such as soil tests and environmental impact assessment must be made compulsory and adhered to, before the commencement of construction works.
Geophase Resources Limited boasts a team of highly-trained experts who uphold all industry values to engage in construction projects that are in accordance with necessary policies.