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Construction Failure in Buildings (Essay Sample)


the task involve writing an essay on construction failures in biuldings. the attached sample has outlined common construction failures that usually result to the collapse of biuldings during the construction stage or later on after construction. it also gives a brief notes on the prevention of Construction Failures.

Construction Failure in Buildings
The history of collapsed building dates back to the Babylonian period when the law of Hammurabi was drafted. However, some there have been some recent catastrophic structural collapses during construction that have generated wide publicity. These include, the Cooling Tower Scaffold Collapse, in Willow Island, West Virginia in April 1978, where premature loading of cast-in-place concrete resulted in loss of life for 51 construction workers and the Rosemont Horizon Arena, Chicago in august 1979, where Glue-laminated timber roof arches spanning 89 metres (290 ft.) collapsed killing five workers and injuring 16. The Harbour Cay Condominium in Cocoa Beach, Florida in March 1981 is another important example. The five-story casting-place reinforced concrete building collapsed due to design and construction deficiencies killing eleven construction workers and injuring 23 others.
Structural failures occur when there is a reduction of the capability of a structural system or component to such a degree that it cannot safely serve its intended purpose (Janney, 1986, pg. 1; Yates, 2007, pg. 68). A construction failure is a failure that occurs during construction and such failures are considered to be either a collapse or distress of a structural system to such a degree that it cannot safely serve its intended purpose.
Causes of Failures in Building Construction
Failures may result from a single error. However, it is more common for a failure to be the result of several interrelated contributing factors. These may involve technical problems and unexpected deficiencies in material performance. Procedural deficiencies may result from human errors in judgement or from human tendencies towards ignorance, incompetence, negligence and greed. The constructed project may be subjected to environmental conditions or loads that are unpredicted by the designer or by accepted standards of practice.
According to Thornton (1985, pg. 14), construction failures may be classified into three categories: safety, functional and ancillary, while the causes of failure fit into five general areas of deficiency, design, construction, material, administrative and maintenance.
Yates (2007, pg. 68) identified two broad causes of construction; technical causes and human causes. Technical causes of construction failures are those that are actual physical proximate causes. For example, improper compaction of soil could lead to excessive settlement of a foundation. Procedural causes are related to human errors and they include things such as communication problems or shortcoming in the design and construction process that cause physical failures to occur on construction projects (Yates, 2007, pg. 68). An example of this would be a constructor placing reinforcing steel lower in a slab than is shown on the plans. Another example is in the case when a testing laboratory makes an error in checking soil compaction.
Failure from human causes are a more constant and common category of failure in building construction. It consists of manmade predicaments, the result of misjudging the behaviour of materials or miscalculating the degree of strain and stress that a building may undergo in the normal course of events. These problems include inadequate foundations, insufficient bracing against wind pressure and unsatisfactory framework for meeting the structural requirements for strength and stability. Failure may result from vibration too (Fitchen, 1999, pg. 31). However, the most common cause of failure in buildings occurs while the building is under construction. This occurs when the formwork is removed prematurely, when the mortar or Crete is still green (Fitchen, 1999, pg. 32).
Feld and Carper (1997, pg. 14) identified the causes of failures and classified into seven broad categories. These being, fundamental errors in concept, site selection and site development errors, programing deficiencies, design errors, construction errors and material deficiencies as well as operational errors.
Fundamental errors in concept involve an attempt to build a unique project that is beyond the available technology at that time. That is, a lack of experience with similar projects before or undertaking a project whose scale may be located in an unusual environment where weather predictions are erratic. An example of such a failure is the US navy "Big Dish" project, there was not enough technological advancement at that time to support its construction, this caused the costs to be exponentially excessive, and the project was at the end disbanded.
Site selection and site development errors are a result of unwise land use or site selection errors. This involves areas of significant seismic activity, flood plains and areas with permafrost or generally areas with no capacity to support a particular project.
Design errors involve miscalculations in punching shear, lack of structural redundancy or simply poorly designed connections. Examples of historical failures in design errors are the Kempler Memorial Arena roof failure in Kansas City, Missouri (June 1979). The collapse involved a connection detail and was due to a lack of structural redundancy. Another example in design error is the collapse of the cast-in-place concrete Condominium Project in March 27, 1981, which happened while the building was under construction. The factors that were the cause for the collapse included a design error, as the designer never performed any calculations to check punching shear.
Construction errors are failures that may involve excavation accidents, construction equipment failure, improper construction sequencing, inadequate temporary support, and excessive construction load, premature removal of shoring or formwork and non-conformance to design intent (Feld, 1997, pg. 20). An example of a construction failure is in the collapse of the four-story concrete John Evans Hotel, Evanston, Illinois in 1925, which was attributed to the premature removal of cellar shores and the Highway structure in Denver, Colorado in 1985 when eight girders were placed on incomplete piers.
Material deficiencies are manufacturing and or fabrication defects that exist in the most reliable structural materials such as standard structural steel sections or centrally mixed concrete. For example, in 1980, over 130 buildings in California San Francisco bay area experienced serious structural defects because of poor quality aggregate that was used inadvertently by four concrete suppliers. Spalling of the concrete was attributed to several tons of expansive brick that was accidentally dumped onto aggregate pile at a cement plant. Improper aggregates are also reason enough for the demolition of a building, as was the case in 1963, when a 28-day cylinder tests of the concrete for a public school in Brooklyn New York, indicated 40 per cent below the 24 MPa specified design strength and the city ordered all of the concrete to be removed.
Operation errors involve predominantly the alterations made to the structure, change in use, operational judgement errors, negligent overloading and inadequate maintenance. The last cause of failure was programing deficiencies.
Prevention of Construction Failures
It is impossible to eliminate structural failures in its entirety, but the safety record of the construction industry can be improved by reducing the overall number of structural failures. Efforts to reduce construction failures by studying their causes have led to a meaningful reduction in their occurrence. Trying to reduce construction failure is a continuous process and government safety organizations throughout the world are dedicated to this goal. In the 2000s, catastrophic failures are occurring throughout the world. For example, a parking garage under construction in Las Vegas, Nevada, collapse because of improper cured concrete in 2005 and a roof failures of an indoor waterslide in Russia and an ice skating rink in the Bavarian Alps killed and injured hundreds of people.
The construction process is inherently dangero...
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