Important Questions and Answers on Building Repair Part-2

What is the next step for Building Repairs – Financial Provision?

After you have appointed a reliable Consultant and obtained an estimate, the next step is to collect funds. Generally, repair works are extremely difficult to estimate as the extent of repairs is fully known only when you remove the concrete or other material which covers the defective areas as it is not possible to visually inspect and determine the extent of deterioration.

Hence, there are good chances that the cost may even double the estimated cost. So, one must be prepared for the worst and make enough financial provisions, so that work does not stop due to lack of funds.

Some societies have a substantial collection of sinking funds that can be utilized for carrying out major repairs. Repair loans are available from several housing finance companies and this can help reduce one’s initial burden to a great extent. It is expected that cost of all repairs should be shared by all occupants of the building on a pro-rata basis for the area of their occupancy.

How do we appoint a Contractor?

You can invite quotations or tenders from short-listed agencies whom your consultant or you feel are capable enough to do the repairs.

However, before shortlisting the agencies, you need to visit their earlier repaired works and observe the quality of work done. It is also necessary to gather information from the occupants of those premises which were repaired by these agencies and judge the overall performance. It is also recommended to visit at least one of the sites wherein their work is in progress.

While the consultant is there to advise you on the suitability of the agency, you must also remember that the LOWEST offer need not be the BEST offer. All terms and conditions of the offer letters of the Contractor, you propose to give work to, should be read and understood for their cost implications and their technical merits/demerits.

If you have a known agency and have confidence in their work, then the rates can be negotiated with the help of your consultant after inviting a single bid. It may also be worthwhile to determine the works on hand with the contractor whom you propose to appoint. This will help you to determine whether the contractor if appointed, will be able to pay good attention to your work or not.

Who should Supervise the Work?

It is mandatory to let the Consultant supervise the work either himself or through his assistant/associate. However, since you are spending your hard-earned money on repairs, it is also in your interest to oversee the work from time to time to have better quality and not to obstruct the work or harass the Consultant or the Contractor. It is always advisable that one responsible person should be identified to give instructions to the Consultant and the Contractor. This will avoid misunderstandings and confusion which at times Contractors exploit to their advantage.

What is There to Supervise?

The following aspects must be supervised:

  • Materials selected by Contractor for repairs.
  • Whether the materials are being batched and mixed properly.
  • Whether the steps specified for repairs are correctly followed.
  • Whether the repairs are being done at locations that need repair and not elsewhere where there is no need for repairs.
  • Whether surface preparation for repairs is properly done.
  • Whether the corroded steel is thoroughly cleaned or treated to remove rust scales.
  • Whether badly corroded steel is replaced by equivalent steel and cracks, crevices, and joints are properly treated before repairs.
  • Whether the concrete, mortar, or any other treatment is executed perfectly and to the correct size or thickness.
  • Whether the repaired surface is water cured properly and for an adequate number of days (at least 7 days).

What Checks can be Done on Materials?

You have to check the following:

  • Whether the contractor is using the standard or specified brand and type of material approved/selected by the Consultant.
  • Whether materials like cement, chemical admixtures, polymers, and epoxies are received in sealed containers or bags and whether they are properly stored.
  • Whether the sand used in mortar or concrete is clean and free from silt and clay lumps. A simple test is to put your hand in the heap of sand and rub the sand on your hand. If the hand gets dirty (muddy) sand needs to be thoroughly washed or it should be rejected and not used.
  • Whether cement is fresh and free from hard set lumps.
  • Water used for the preparation of concrete or mortar should be potable water fit for human consumption. Well or bore well water must be tested before use in concrete or mortar. Water should be free from organic impurities and free from harmful inorganic salts.

How do We Ensure That Materials are Properly Batched and Mixed?

Request your consultant to specify proportions for all mortar, concrete, polymer concrete, and epoxy mixes. Proportioning can be by weight or by volume. Observe that the Contractor batches the various materials in correct proportions for all mixes. The addition of water in an arbitrary manner is harmful as the strength and durability of repaired concrete will be low if the Water to Cement ratio (W/C) is higher than those specified for use in mortar and concrete mixes.

The addition of chemical admixture (plasticizer or superplasticizer) can help in reducing the W/C and thereby improve the strength and durability of repair mortar or concrete.

Cement, chemical admixtures, water, and polymers must be accurately batched as per weight/volume specified.

After all the materials are batched in correct proportions the materials are mixed. Hand (manual) mixing should be avoided as far as possible. Machine (mechanical) mixing is always superior. However, the mixer should be good and efficient.

The mix should have a uniform color and texture and the mixed materials should not separate from each other (segregation) while the mix is being transported, placed, and compacted.

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