This is my 6th publication on Lamudi -Nigeria’s largest online property marketplace. We were recently enlisted as one of their columnist and in this post, I talked about 5 Guaranteed Solutions to Building Collapse in Nigeria.
On Sept 12th 2014, a six-storey guest house belonging to the synagogue church of All nations collapsed, killing over 100 people and most of them where foreigners. The reason for the collapse is still under investigation but according to reports, the building was originally a two-storey building said to be less than four years old, which the church decided to expand. It was also reported that the building had no approval from relevant agencies of the government.
This is one of the tens to hundreds of building collapse cases in Nigeria with each of them having its own reason for collapsing. The frequency of collapse building structures in Nigeria in the past few years have become very alarming and worrisome and many lives and properties have been lost.
A visit to the collapsed scenes makes one to wonder why such a building should have been allowed to stand in the first instance and also reveals the extent people can go to cut corners at the expense of property, safety and lives.
5 Guaranteed Solutions to Building Collapses in Nigeria
This is a follow up to the conversation that matter I started on Unite Nigeria on why building collapse in Nigeria where I shared several insights from different perspectives on why buildings collapse in Nigeria, you should read it, the statistics are staggering!
But in this article, I will be sharing 5 guaranteed solutions to building collapses in Nigeria. My goal is to add to the general body of knowledge out there from my own personal 9 years experience in Nigeria’s construction industry as a professional building contractor.
Strict Adherence to Quality Building Materials:
Experts have revealed that one of the major causes of building collapse is the failure and lack lustre effort of building contractors to pay strict adherence to quality building materials.
A research by the Standard Organization of Nigeria indicates that poor quality building materials are major causes of building collapse in Nigeria. The research pointed directly at cement because most cement used in building construction does not hold other particles strongly.
Writing from a professional point of view, there are three cement types presently in use worldwide, which are 32.5mpa, 42.5mpa and 52.5mpa.
- The 32.5mpa can only be used for plastering and block making.
- The 42.5mpa is for multipurpose usage such as block moulding, concreting, slabs and high rise buildings but it can’t be used for plastering.
- The 52.5mpa can be used for high density works such as bridges, embankments, dams and retainer walls.
Therefore to ensure the avoidance of building collapse, builders should always ensure that the right cement specification is used for the appropriate construction types.
The RIGHT Human Resource:
Another major guaranteed solution to building collapse in Nigeria is the employment of the right human resource to any building and construction project. To ensure that the right human resources are engaged in building and construction projects the following steps should be adhered to;
- Engagement of professionals and competent workforce:
Contractors in other to cut the cost of projects, most times engage the services of non–professionals who are not licensed to engage in any building projects. Experts have blamed incompetent artisans and weak supervision of workmen as one of the major reasons of building collapse. It is generally said that the best way to manage a crisis is to avoid it, it is advisable that the best way to manage crisis resulting from building collapse is to prevent it by avoiding the use of quacks and non building professionals in any major building projects.
- Training and retraining of building practitioners:
All relevant building regulating bodies should ensure constant continuous education and professional development of its members that will help them update their skills and knowledge.
The RIGHT Design Structure:
Having the right design structure is a guaranteed solution to building collapse. Building contractors should ensure that their designs are reviewed and approved by appropriate authorities before construction begins. This is so because most designs in Nigeria are copied from other countries without considering the conditions that led to such design.
Bad design does not only mean poor architectural design, but it involves some other professional design inputs. To get the right design structure, it is advisable that the contractor engages the services of a building designer. The areas to look out during design to guarantee reduction of building collapse includes;
- Adequate feasibility study. Designers should ensure adequate feasibility study on the authenticity of the land and nature, soil adequacy, site inventory and analysis.
- Ensure the avoidance of inadequate or poor design details, poor supervision, sub-standard material specification and faulty or lack of maintenance schedule.
Proper Maintenance Culture:
Poor maintenance culture is another factor that can lead to building collapse. The truth is that even the best constructed buildings need constant attention and if the attention is delayed, what can start as being something very minor is liable to turn quickly into an expensive man-made disaster.
No building can exist throughout its lifespan without the need for one form of maintenance or the other. Experts believe that maintenance work commences on the day the contractor lives the site.
The necessity for maintenance work on buildings is noted in the fact that all buildings as well as the materials and components therein, deteriorate or suffer loss in aesthetic, strength and or functional value with exposure to the elements of weather over time.
The following strategies can be used to ensure proper maintenance of a building;
- Corrective maintenance:
This is a maintenance strategy that involves every activity performed to identify, detect and rectify a fault so that the failed structure or building element can be restored to its normal state. This type of maintenance is carried out in other to restore the structure to its original state. If this type of maintenance is to be used, then the element is allowed to be used until it breaks down to a point where it can only be repaired or replaced.
- Preventive maintenance:
This is another type of maintenance that is performed on a building structure to lessen the likelihood of it failing. Just as the name implies, it is performed immediately it is detected to avoid an unexpected collapse.
- Condition based maintenance:
This strategy involves maintenance when the need arises. It involves the use of actual condition of the structure to decide what maintenance needs to be done. This can be done by monitoring the buildings elements such as walls, floors, roof etc to identify which element that requires maintenance before a major failure occurs.
Passing and Signing the National Building Code:
The national building code is the document that is expected to regulate the conduct and operations of professionals and stakeholders in the construction industry. It is some sort of guideline for those who operate in the built environment sector. Experts believes the absence of a National Building Code has been largely responsible for the incessant incidence of collapsed buildings being witnessed across the country and that passing the national building code into law will definitely;
- Regulate and stop the use of non-professionals and quacks in the building and construction industries who are also major contributors of building collapse.
- Ensure the compliance by contractors to stop the use of untested products and materials in all construction projects as a way of preventing structural defects.
- Proper maintenance culture. Just as I stated earlier that poor maintenance culture can lead to building collapse. The national building code will ensure that builders implement good maintenance culture regularly and always.
Apart from some very rare cases of the act of God, most building collapse cases in Nigeria are majorly man-made. By following these 5 solutions, I can guarantee to a very large extent that the numbers of building collapse cases in Nigeria will drastically reduce if not totally eradicated.
Obviously, these are not all the guaranteed solutions to building collapse in Nigeria, as I continue my research and study on this subject matter, be rest assured to get more updates from me!