Building Defects

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Introduction:

Decay and deterioration can happen in a building for any number of reasons. The first being poor repair and maintenance of the building over its life by users or those responsible for its maintenance such as a landlord etc.

It can also mean that there were original problems with the building that impair its ability to function as intended, these may not have been uncovered during the snagging process at the end of the construction stage. These building problems are referred to as defects, depending on the type of contact most contracts have a 12 month defect period, this enables the users (and funders) to live in the building through the different seasons and see if any problems occur. A latent defect is after the 12 month defect period has lapsed and the new building shows signs of problems that are so significant that they can stop its functionality (a latent defect period can last up to 12 years on some contracts).

Please find below some common reasons for defects:
* Design Issues
Design professionals (such as architects or engineers) could perhaps specify material or equipment that cannot perform as intended. For example: a geological survey that does not cover enough areas on a site could mean that the subsoil is not consistent across the site and therefore could eventually cause subsidence in the building. The architect’s motivation for the design may be with the building form, function or aesthetics but the completed design could result as a defect as any cost considerations or value engineering if not well planned, managed and coordinated could result in a defects. The use of inferior building materials can cause problems such as windows that leak or fail to perform and function adequately, even when properly installed. Leaking windows are a common defect and prevention requires good workmanship. * Site supervision during construction period

Poor supervision during the construction period can result in poor quality and sub standard workmanship. For example: this can often manifest in water infiltration through some portion of the building structure (cracks in foundations, floor slabs, walls, dry rotting of wood or other building materials), electrical and mechanical problems, plumbing leaks and back-ups, lack of appropriate sound insulation and fire-resistive construction between adjacent housing units, etc. The above can prevented with a good Quality Assurance process in place that ensures that all trades are well supervised on site, accurate records are kept on workmanship (this can include pictorial evidence) and guidance is given to all staff on the quality expectations that have to be achieved on site. The traditional role of Clerk of Works should also be used to ensure that all measures are met on site level.

* Maintenance
No building lasts forever. Day to day planned maintenance of a building is required to ensure that it prevents any problems in the future. Poor planned maintence can cause defects to occur in buildings that would have performed well had they been cared for properly. For example: a master plan for the buildings mechanical and electrical (M&E) equipment to be replaced (such as Boiler replacements, lighting upgrades, ICT Category cabling upgrades etc.) also phased window or roof replacement schedule to ensure that all that entire building envelope is protected to protect from the elements. If maintenance of buildings are not kept up to date then in some contracts ‘latent defects’ would not be honoured as the users have not maintained the works that were carried out in line with the contract therefore the contractors would not be obligated to rectify any defective works. * Service installation

Some equipment requires regular servicing under the terms of its guarantee. For example: If a boiler that has been installed with a 10 year warranty is not annually serviced then the manufacture can advise that the user did not...
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