The unfortunate incident of the collapse of Reigners Bible Church building in Uyo where over 100 lives were reported to have been lost has once again brought about the need for proper checks to be carried out on structures to avoid avoidable loss of innocent lives. City People Magazine spoke with a Building Engineer, Emmanuel Agabi on signs that can show that a building is under distress and is about to collapse. Engineer Emmanuel Agabi is a Building Engineer with ITB Construction Company Limited. He has supervised the construction of many high-rise structures in Lagos over the last two decades, amongst them: Magnum Trust Bank Head Quarters in Idowu Taylor, Airtel Head office in Banana Island, Ocean Parade Towers Parking Lot in Banana Island and presently supervising the construction of Kuramo Beach Residential Towers in Kuramo Beach, Victoria Island.
CHECK FOR FOUNDATION WALL CRACKS AND AS WELL AS CRACKS IN THE MAIN COLUMNS LOCATED IN YOUR FOUNDATION
Foundations can crack because they’re poorly built or made of insufficient materials, or because the house is poorly engineered. Walk around the outside of the house if you can, looking for cracks in the concrete, stone or brick foundation. Look for horizontal cracks, wide cracks (the thickness of your fingernail or greater) or a pattern of cracks starting on one side of a corner and picking up on the other side. This shows the foundation is unable to bear the home’s weight. Note: A few hairline vertical or stair-step cracks in concrete are not significant.
SLOPING FLOORS AND UNEVEN SPACES
Sloping floors are not uncommon in older homes, especially for houses built before the end of the past decade. Look at the house from the street. Is everything — the front entrance, the windows, outside doors, foundation and walls — straight and square?
WEIRD SOUNDS AND CRACKS
If you happen to hear weird sounds and cracks especially during winter storms or strong winds, it’s not a good sign.
Siding provides protection from the elements, moisture and damage. They are located both inside and outside your home walls. Time-tested siding materials are wood, aluminum, vinyl, stone and brick. Make sure that these materials are in good shape.
MOLD AND WATER STAINS ON CEILINGS AND WALLS
The cause of mold and rot is simple: Water got in where it shouldn’t have. The pros call it “moisture penetration.” The longer it’s there, the more damage it creates. Make sure you consult an expert or a specialized engineer in case you notice your building is in a very weak state and that most of these signs are there. Cracks or bulges in a building’s walls are a sign of imminent structural collapse. Walls no longer able to support the weight of the building’s roof or upper floors will start to crack under the pressure. In addition, water or smoke that is able to push through walls that would normally have solid masonry are a sure sign that substantial fatigue has occurred. Better be safe than sorry!