Defects that Lead to Structural Damage
The intention of any professional builder should be to satisfy their clients by delivering quality buildings that meet set standards and specifications at the right time and within budget. This is achieved by employing proper quality control and assurance at every phase of the construction process. However, the construction industry, like others, has been infiltrated by unqualified builders who often construct structures that defile safety and all construction codes. This is the reason why every homeowner should do a thorough research on a contractor before they sign any contract with them. Apart from that, as a client, you should inspect the project both during and after construction in order to make sure that there are no defects which may be detrimental to your safety.
Some major defects may not be easily seen but they are red flags indicating that the construction work is shoddy. Defects lead to structural damage and failure. Hence, you should inspect both the interior and the exterior of your building to ascertain the extent of the damage and swift to action. But how do you identify major defects that need urgent attention? Look out for the following:
Major Cracks in the Wall
A major crack is a sign that your structure cannot bear the load it carries. Cracks are classified into structural or non-structural. The former happens as a result of faulty design or construction, or overload while the latter occurs due to internally induced stress on the materials used in constructing the building. Cracks are caused by thermal agents.
This is also termed ‘spalling’. It is caused by exposure to high moisture and chemicals. When the concrete absorbs salts and chlorides, there is a chemical reaction within it. This results in the growth and expansion of crystals which happen after the bond between the materials is affected. Salts absorbed react with steel reinforcement, causing corrosion of the steel and breaking the bond of the materials.
Infestation of Termites
Termites cause structural damage over time by eating deep into support beams, wall studs, ceiling joists and other parts. Structural damage (cracking in the wall and sagging ceilings) caused by termites is not easily noticed as it can be mistaken for just normal movement. If your house is infested by termites, it can become very difficult to continue to live there if you do not remove the termites on time.
Improper construction causes uneven floor or varying degrees of severity. The level of the severity determines if it requires urgent attention or not. If immediate action is required, you can call a structural expert to assess the seriousness. Uneven floors can also be caused by cracked floor joists, termite damage, and inadequate sub-floor supports.
If a sub-floor lacks sufficient ventilation, it prevents evaporation and causes humidity and accumulation of mould growth. This increase in dampness can lead to rotting floor timbers, which can be identified by surface stains and other signs of deterioration. The obstruction that prevents evaporation should be cleared in order to increase the number of vents for better ventilation or drainage improvements.
Badly Fitting Doors and Windows
When doors or windows that used to close and open freely refuse to close properly or get stuck (windows) in their frames, there is a serious issue in the foundation of the building. It is often caused by shifting of the ground under the foundation. Also, structures, which are built on concrete slabs or clay soil, sometimes suffer from slab heave. This is where the soil below the slab expands due to moisture, thus lifting the slab, causing serious structural issues that need professional assessment.
This can be caused by poorly-installed flashings and faulty installation of roof membrane.
There are defects associated with plumbing. This is caused a myriad of problems from leaking pipes, improper or ineffective slope of drains.
Structural defects can happen as a result of failure of a design to meet the required standard; inability of a contractor to execute the work in accordance with the plans, specifications, and the acceptable standards of workmanship in the construction industry, as well as the use of improper installation of systems, equipment or materials that are of a lesser quality than required by the original plans and specifications. Defects above have direct bearing on the overall performance of a building or structure. So it is better they are discovered early and be corrected before they degenerate into damage or collapse.