Important Questions and Answers on Building Repair Part-5

What are the Important Factors to be Considered in Building Repairs?

More than technical consideration there are some factors like honesty, trust, and faith that are the most important. The Consultant, the Contractor, and the person in charge must be honest. The occupants must have trust in them as well as they must trust each other.

The persons in charge have to be firm, committed, and confident to manage the show without unnecessary delays in giving decisions and releasing the areas of work.

Payments to contractors and suppliers must be prompt. At the same time, the Consultant and Contractor must plan their work and work efficiently as a team. Financial commitments must be adhered to by all occupants. Some disputes are bound to occur especially on matters related to cost distribution amongst occupants and on cost increases. These have to be resolved amicably.

Easier said than done. Repairs to buildings are more dependent on human behavior than anything else. It is a tight rope walk for all concerned but your building has to be repaired and must be repaired if tragedies are to be avoided.

There are so many Brands and types of Cement, Admixtures, Polymers, and Epoxies Available in the Market. Which do we Select?

This is generally left to the Consultant to decide. It is recommended to use well-known brands of materials. It is also important that materials are available on time, have consistent and good quality, and are fresh. Cost may also be one of the considerations. One must remember that good-quality materials are never cheap. However, just buying costly materials also does not mean that the results will be good. Materials should be correctly identified and proportioned, properly mixed with other materials, and applied accurately. Building repairs are similar to the hospitalization of a human being. The ailing person has to depend on the recommendations of his Physician and/or Surgeon. As per their recommendations, he has to undergo several costly investigative tests and has no choice in selecting antibiotics that his doctors have recommended. He has to follow all instructions and take all medicines recommended to him. In building repairs many times cheap materials are preferred without realizing that building repairs mean many lives are at stake along with the enormous value of the property.

Why does the Building Structure grow weak and What happens When the Structure is Overloaded?

A building like a human being also grows old and weak as time passes. As a person goes old, he/she is unable to do several activities he/she was doing when young. As a building ages its structural members grow weak due to corrosion (rusting of reinforcement steel due to moisture and chloride attack), carbonation (loss of alkalinity of concrete around the steel reinforcement due to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere), sulfate attack, and various other chemical attacks. Hence, the load-carrying capacity of the structural (RCC/Steel) members gradually reduces.

The human body has to be kept fit and trim. The structure too must be kept fit and trimmed by timely and periodic maintenance. Just as a human body if abused results in the development of ailments and serious health problems, a building structure develops serious problems if abused by overloading or by ruthless modifications to its important structural members.

The structural members generally in the building are slabs, beams, columns, and foundations. Each one of them is designed to take a specific load with a certain factor of safety. Additional loads imposed on each type of member often observed are as follows:


a) Additional or extra thick mortar on the slab for tile bedding.

b) Thick layer/layers of waterproofing. Many times, layer after layer of waterproofing is done on roof slabs resulting in extra load on the slab.

c) Construction of partition wall on the slab directly. Many times, certain professionals permit so-called lightweight partition walls on the slab. The load may be slightly less than normal brick/block masonry but it will certainly increase the load on the slab.

d) Heavy potted plants or flower beds placed or constructed on terrace slabs. This will not only cause additional weight but also cause dampness and moisture ingress which ultimately leads to corrosion of steel and spalling of concrete. Protective waterproofing layers often give way after some months or years and the structure gets damaged.

e) Heavy materials and equipment if directly kept on the slabs can give additional load on the slab.

f) Change of tiling material. Thick natural stone tiles will impose more load than thinner ceramics tiles.

g) Loft tanks.

h) Additional overhead water storage tanks, cooling towers, and other AC equipment.


a) All extra loads from the slabs as stated above get transferred to the beams and overloading of beams can take place.

b) Construction of an additional floor or extension of any portion of the building transfers the load on the existing beams, walls, or columns.


All extra loads from the beams get transferred to the columns and overloading of columns can take place.


All extra loads from the columns get transferred to the foundations. Overloading of foundations can cause differential settlement resulting in the development of cracks which will go on increasing in width and depth gradually till such time the structure stabilizes or collapses.

Result of Additional Load:

Additional loading causes undesirable deflection (sagging), bending, or buckling which results in the formation of cracks. Due to cracks, steel gets vulnerable to moisture and chemical attacks and concrete disintegrate as steel corrodes inside. If the structure is not repaired in time failure can occur. Due to excessive loads, cracks may go on increasing further leading to failure of the part of the entire structure.

What Is your message to the Consultant, Contractor, and Occupant involved in repairs?

The message is clear – Treat the building you are repairing as a hospitalized human being wherein the Consultant plays the role of a Physician; the Contractor plays the role of a surgeon and the occupants play the role of concerned relatives. Everyone must play his part properly and correctly. If the structure you stay in or work in or are hospitalized in, is safe and sound, then you are safe, your family members or employees are safe and above all, you have peace of mind.

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