in StemSociallast year (edited)


How are we doing,I want to share with us the cause of building failure and possible solution to it.

Building failure occurs when the building loses its ability to perform its intended (design) function. Hence, building failures can be categorized into two groups Namely physical (structural) failures (which result in the loss of certain characteristics, e.g., strength) and performance failures (which means a reduction in the function below an established acceptable limit) (Douglas and Ransom, 2007).>


Foundation Failure

Foundation failure can cause the building to collapse, foundation is the first element of a building where the construction starts, but when it fails, it can cause many defects in the building including failure or collapse of the building.
Repair of a defect in the foundation is most difficult and very costly, so it is most important to understand the type of foundation failure to avoid them by taking necessary steps before construction starts.


Structural failure corresponds to the exceedance of the ultimate limit state in many of the load-carrying elements, which compromise the structural stability of the building. In practice, this corresponds to extensive damage, and partial or total collapse of the building, resulting in repair costs that are high relative to the replacement value of the building. It is the normal effect on the column(pillar) of the buildings when it can't carry the intended load of the building.

Performance failure can be induced by the failure of structural elements (as per above), nonstructural component (non-load-bearing elements or equipment) failures or combinations...

Causes of Foundation Failure

(i) Soil Type (Expansive clay soil): –
The most common kind of expansive clay can absorb so much water that it can swell by several hundred per cent. The pressure from this degree of swelling can easily lift or “heave” most residential homes, the soil expands with moisture and they contract with then using up and down movements known as differential settlement. To preserve the structural integrity of the building, we have to provide the underpinning for the foundation.

(ii) Poorly Compacted Fill Materials: –

If the fill material on a lot is not sufficiently compacted to support the weight of the structure above it, there will foundation problems. The problem can be from the mix of added fill materials, poorly compacted fill or both. It can also develop a wide crumbling crack in the lowest corner of its foundation.

(iii) Slope Failure / Mass Wasting:

Geologists use the term “mass wasting” to illustrate the movement of the earth downhill. It could be “creep” which is slow, or “landslides” which are sudden slope failures as we use it refers to “creep”.
Underpinnings can act as a barrier to “creep”, but the power of gravity is such that unless the underpinnings were specifically designed to stop slope failure, warranties can’t usually cover this in sites exposed to slope failure.


(iv) Erosion

Erosion may be the most straightforward cause of settlement issues. It can come from poor drainage, uncontrolled water flow or lacgrougroundwater If not identified early, erosion can wear away the soil around foundations, creating a new need for underpinning.


(v) Poor Construction:

Most towns and cities now have building codes that require soil testing and engineer certification before and during the building process, so poor construction is less and also less the cause of foundation failure.


(vi) Transpiration:

We all know what perspiration is, but transpiration is a less commonly known word. It is the world that describes plants removing moisture from the soil. Tress withdrawing moisture from the soil in the summer can accelerate soil shrinkage in hot summer months. It is the expansion and shrinkage or contraction of soil, often invisible from the surface. So we need to keep our eyes open to any signs of foundation weakness.

Structural Failure

This failure is a breakdown in one or more components of the structure system. Such failures include common concrete cracking which may or may not be of any consequence, depending upon the degree of the failure. In addition, structural failures do not always require correction, and, in the context of construction defect claims and litigation, a structural failure without some functional failure or impairment is of limited value.


Furthermore, the failure of a structural steel connection caused by a design defect could be catastrophic and demands immediate attention.
Functional Failure
This is a condition that renders a component unsuitable or unusable for its intended purpose. The functional failure of a mechanical piece of equipment resulting from a manufacturing defect often requires immediate correction.

Causes of structural failures and other

i.It can cause by bad design, faulty construction, foundation failure, extraordinary loads, or natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, cyclones and fires.
ii. Poor communication between the various design professionals involved, e.g. engineers involved in conceptual design and those involved in the supervision of the execution of works.
iii. Poor communication between the fabricators and erectors.
iv. Bad workmanship, which is often the result of failure to communicate the design decisions to the persons, involved in executing them.
v. Compromises in professional ethics and failure to appreciate the responsibility of the profession to the community at large could also result in catastrophic failures.
vi. Lack of appropriate professional design and construction experience, especially when a more structured carrer is needed.
vii. Complexity of codes and specifications leading to misinterpretation and misapplication.
viii. Unwarranted belief in calculations and specified extreme loads and properties.
ix. Inadequate preparation and review of contract and shop drawings.
x. Poor training of field inspections.
xi. Compressed design and construction time.
xii. Overloading the ground: The bearing capacity of the ground can be exceeded by increasing the load that the building applied to it. Ground movement causes cracking of walls, structural failure and ultimately structural collapse.

Causes of Functional Failure

Defects in requirements, design, process, quality control, handling or part application, e underlying causes or sequence of causes that initiate a process (a mechanism) that lead to a failure mode over a certain time. A failure mode may have more causes. For instance, fatigue or corrosion of a structural beam or fretting corrosion in critical contact. The related failure mode is a “Full fracture of structural beam” or “an open electrical contact”. The initial cause might have been “improper application of the corrosion protection layer (paint)” or abnormal vibration input from another possibly failed system”.

Things which can prevent building collapse

The average life expectancy of concrete structures is estimated at around 40 years. But it is a question raised by many whether all constructions survive so long. Since prevention is better than cure, certain things can ensure the long life of the buildings.

Avoid structural modifications:

Many flat owners and Managing Committees make unauthorized changes in building structures like clubbing rooms together by demolishing walls, carving new windows etc, without the necessary approval. Such changes can affect the building’s overall health.

Regular structural maintenance:

Many housing societies are not doing regular structure maintenance as part of cost-cutting, ignorance, carelessness or at times even because of differences of opinion between members. There are many flats where the steel in the RCC columns, slabs and beams are rusted or exposed.

Ensure use of quality products:

Some builders are notorious for using adulterated cement and other materials in the absence of a professional quality control mechanism. This will cause failure to the building in a long run.

Thanks for reading...
Reference in case u want to read more on building failure and possible solutions.





Thanks for your contribution to the STEMsocial community. Feel free to join us on discord to get to know the rest of us!

Please consider delegating to the @stemsocial account (85% of the curation rewards are returned).

You may also include @stemsocial as a beneficiary of the rewards of this post to get a stronger support. 

Thank you, as I will do just that