Structural failures are the defects in the load-carrying components of certain materials which contractors use to construct buildings. These properties include the hardness, elasticity, weight, size, shape, and strength of the materials to withstand specific loads. During the construction of the buildings, the materials might come under immense stresses which exceed their strength limits. As a result, the buildings start to show signs of serious deformations, unsightly cracks, ruptures, and fractures. In the worst-case scenarios, a structural failure in the buildings can ultimately lead to their collapse. This can cause substantial monetary losses, serious injuries, and even death of the occupants within the buildings.
Reddy Kancharla is a civil engineer and geotechnical consultant with over 25 years of valuable experience in the fields of civil construction, construction quality control, and geotechnical consultation. Throughout his illustrious career, he has had the privilege of holding senior executive positions in major construction quality assurance/control firms in New York City. These include the posts of President, Vice President, and Chief Engineer. He is the mastermind behind the construction of many prominent commercial and residential buildings in New Jersey and New York. These are the Union Carbide Plant in Franklin Township, Yankee Stadium, Grand Hotels in Cape May, and the terminals of JFK Airport.
According to him, structure failure in the construction of high-rise buildings occur due to the following causes:
- The use of low-quality steel beams susceptible to rusting is used to erect the building’s structure,
- The dependence on salty sand in the making reinforce concrete to encapsulate the steel beams,
- The execution of an improper design, which fails to assess the likely loads the structure has to carry,
- The failure to consider the effects of seismic forces on the buildings’ materials,
- The decision to use sub-standard materials in the buildings’ construction to reduce costs, and
- The failure to employ a geotechnical engineer to survey the ground for soil erosion or shifting.
How to prevent building collapse resulting from structural failure?
He goes on to state civil engineers can’t construct an absolutely risk-free high-rise building. However, they can prevent the catastrophe of building collapse from occurring by implementing industry-recommended thoughtful building design practices. They should also abide by the relevant building codes that regulatory authorities impose when constructing the building. They even need to understand and overcome the load limitations of construction materials contractors use to erect the buildings’ structure. When determining the right construction materials to use, they consider the effect of moisture, heat, humidity, wind, and seismic forces on them. Taking these steps can reduce the likelihood of a building collapse occurring.
Any building collapse due to structural failure causes immense economic loss to the community. Fortunately, civil engineers can avoid such calamity by implementing proper architectural designs which conform to the local authorities’ building codes. They should go a step further and clearly explain the design plans to contractors who will ultimately implement them. Above all, they should be adamant that the contractors use standardized materials in the construction, so there are no unwanted mishaps in the future.