Why Do Buildings Collapse & How Can One Prevent It?

Blog, Construction

It is a tragedy to hear about a building collapsing. Regardless of the levels or stories of the building, no one wants to see lives and properties lost, which all cause a building to collapse. This has prompted so many individuals to seek out reasons why buildings collapse and how one can prevent it.

Buildings collapse for various reasons, some while they are still being constructed and others after they have been constructed. In this article, I will highlight some of the major reasons why buildings collapse and how one can prevent this from happening in the future. Let’s get started, shall we?

Why do buildings collapse?

The different reasons why buildings fail include the following;

1. Weak foundation

The foundation acts as a support to the building, spreading the weight of the structure across the foundation evenly. In a bid to cut costs, most homeowners and architects erect weak foundations because erecting a strong one tends to be costly, and this is one major reason why buildings fail.

Additionally, many architects neglect to consider the nature of the soil on which they are building. Remember that all soil nature is different, some soft and some strong. Naturally, swampy or soft soil will require a strong foundation, and most architects neglect this when the foundation is being constructed.

2. Fake or substandard building materials

Building materials grow costlier each passing day, and in a bid to cut costs, many home buildings adopt the use of substandard building materials. These materials wear out quicker than they ought to, putting lives and properties on the line.

3. Faulty construction

Another major reason why buildings fail is due to faulty construction or mistakes during construction. Even if the right materials are used, any mistakes or errors made during construction will affect the strength and integrity of the structure as a whole.

4. Limited inspection and maintenance of buildings

Many owners claim that they do not have enough money in their budget for inspection and maintenance, which may bear no fruit. They would rather focus their budget on day-to-day needs, like heating and cooling. However, maintenance and assessment are important, though costly. Ignoring minor issues that may be noticed during inspection can result in something serious and threaten lives.

5. Harsh weather conditions

Sometimes, buildings collapse not because they are not built properly but, in some cases, because of harsh weather conditions. Earthquakes, hurricanes, and flooding are some culprits in the partial and complete collapse of buildings.

6. Poor structural design

It’s not only errors during the build process that can affect the structural integrity of a building. Sometimes, it has to do with poor structural design. Failure to take into account the load the structure will hold, reliance on inaccurate data, erroneous theories, etc, are structural details that the engineer must account for during the design stage.

7. Illegal conversion/alteration/addition to existing structure

Sometimes, buildings collapse because of conversion, alteration, or addition on them. Most homeowners, in a bid to modify their space, take on new projects without consulting a structural engineer. There are cases of homeowners trying to add a basement to a house or add an extra floor to the home by building up. Doing so adds more weight to the structure and may collapse due to overload.

How can you prevent buildings from collapsing?

In order to prevent buildings from falling, the following are practices that can help this course;

1. Proper planning and supervision of construction projects

One of the most important steps in preventing buildings from collapsing is having the right team. The right team consists of core members to help spearhead your project. They will ensure the proper planning and supervision of the building project from start to finish.

2. See something, say something

Residents also play a huge role in preventing building collapse. They must adopt a more vigilant approach to identify and report structural problems. If you see any of the following problems, you should report them to the appropriate person or the city building department.

  • Water intrusion, leaks, and water stains on floors or ceilings
  • Expanding cracks on floors, roof slabs, beams, and walls
  • Rusting or corroded steel beams and columns
  • Rusted wood

3. Carry out regular inspection and maintenance

Just like a car, a build needs occasional inspection and maintenance if needed. Thankfully, some states have enacted ordinances governing periodic inspections of buildings or structures. If this is carried out, the inspector should be able to identify potential signs and advise homeowners accordingly.

4. Go for the best

Building a home can take a toll on your finances for sure. This is the reason why most homeowners try to cut costs by using substandard materials. However, this shouldn’t be your case. It is best to go for the best to ensure all lives and properties are safe under this structure.


Who is liable for a building collapse?

In most cases, the property owner, contractor, and construction company are all held liable if a building collapses.

What are the symptoms of building collapse?

Some common symptoms include cracks on the walls, sinking earth around the structure, uneven and warped walls, damped crawl space, water intrusion, and leaks.

Can water collapse a building?

Yes, it can. Water seeping into the building’s foundation can deteriorate it and can eventually collapse the building.

In summary – Why Do Buildings Collapse?

A building can collapse for a number of reasons: weak foundation, mistakes during construction, and fake or substandard materials. In some cases, it even happens as a result of harsh weather conditions, which include earthquakes, flooding, and hurricanes.

That said, no one wants to see their structure collapse to the ground; this is why being aware of the ways to prevent building collapse is important. This article highlights some of the ways you can prevent building collapse in order to ensure public safety and help prevent future devastations.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article. You may also be interested in this article, which explains why construction companies fail.

Thanks for reading.

About Samkins

Samkins Construction Inc specializes in custom home building, general contracting, design-build, architectural design, construction management, and real estate services.


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