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The Role of Professionals in Averting Building Failure

The effect of building failure or collapse of structures is colossal. A building, once properly constructed is expected to be in use for a very long time. Buildings, like all structures, are designed to support certain loads without deforming excessively.

Housing is more than mere shelter; it encompasses all ancillary service and community facilities, which are necessary for human well being. It is generally agreed that the most serious problems in the world today are in the so-called third world countries, which Nigeria is one of. The efforts made by the housing authority has yielded no fruit due to some reasons like poor implementation, party policies, illiteracy, inadequate finance, high cost of building materials, misconception etc.

Building failure ultimately affects the building and the occupants. Generally the effects of building failure, if not attended to through maintenance will automatically lead to building collapse.

Consequently, building collapse leads to loss of lives, loss of money invested in such property, material wastage; virtually all the materials used except the reinforcement cannot be recovered, the prestige of the landlord of such building is also lost in the environment and association he finds himself, the reputation of the contractor involved is tarnished e.t.c.

The recent incessant collapse of buildings in Nigeria is a threat to sustainable physical development. When a building disintegrates gradually, it loses its strength and stability amongst other things and this leads to collapse, which will amount to the loss of huge sums of money invested in its construction. This would cause a great loss not only to the private owner but to the Federal Government too, because it will affect the economy indirectly.

As a result of building collapse, occupants of such buildings are rendered homeless instantly or run the risk of being injured or killed if buildings are not vacated on time.

Remedies for building failure amongst many others, include: Use of standard materials and workmanship; Involvement of professionals in construction; Site investigation and trial holes; Good design; Prompt and adequate mainte¬nance; Good and adequate supervision.

Read also: REVEALED: Why Buildings Collapse In Nigeria
In view of these, there is a need for the professionals and agencies involved to turn adequate searchlights in the areas concerned in averting building failures.
Large scale structural failure is a nightmare that continues to bedevil the construction industry. The financial loss, tainted reputation, and the loss of lives that result from collapsed buildings is worrisome, and that’s putting it rather mildly. Buildings collapse in Nigeria with reckless abandon, which should ordinarily upset the state of mind of all professionals and agencies involved in the building industry; builders, engineers, architects, the governmental agencies and the owner too.

The professionals have a lot of stake in averting building failure in the country. Also, the three tiers of government (Local, State and Federal) and Government regulatory organs, such as the State, Town and Regional Planning Authorities and Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) have duties to perform. While the professionals have the responsibility to practice their profession in accordance with lay down rules and procedures, government and regulatory organs have the task of enforcing certain laws and policies guiding design and construction of buildings and the existence of substandard material in our market today.

Similarly, the professional bodies including the Architects, Builders, Engineers, Town Planners, Estate Surveyors, Quantity Surveyors and Estate Valuers have to meet and liaise periodically to discuss the problems of the industry. Both the government and the professionals owe it as a duty to teach the public how to embrace that which is good.

There are standards in the sector the professionals involved need to adopt that will ensure sanity in the building industry, and enable builders to source for supply of materials from different sources without compromising the outcome of their product.

Building collapse is often preceded by excessive deflection leading to extension crack propagation. Inexperience or lack of technical know-how may not make this sound reasonable to the untrained, who in his quest for capital gains may further aggravate the stress and strains until such building finally collapses.

The public at large should be informed about the fundamental requirements in building construction, so as to be able to prevent them from patronising non-professionals in other to prevent the perpetual fatal collapse of buildings in our society.

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