Structural engineer must consider the construction methodology before designing the structure, duly specifying the construction joints, and expansion joints after every 40 to 45 metres, says C.A. PRASAD
Engineering or administrative failures pertaining to buildings and structures could result in grave disasters and dozens of lives lost, as seen through the collapse of City Light Hotel in the city. It is, of course, the responsibility of the civic authorities to demolish old buildings housing commercial establishments like hotels, trades and offices which have served their purpose.
However, soundness of any building, new or old, is the responsibility of the project’s engineer who must incorporate the principles of structural stability right from the design stage. He must ensure that the structure resists the forces of gravity (Dead and Live Loads), and wind and seismic (earthquake) forces.
He must ensure the robustness of the structure duly taking account of the combination of the loads vis-à-vis the functionality of the building. He should coordinate with the architect and MEP ((Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing) consultants to ascertain the loads on the structure, and design it as per the guidelines given in the IS code. In case of apartments or individual villas, the buyer should also know how to check for the structural stability of a building. The developer usually appoints an architect, a structural engineer, and an MEP consultant for the project, and obtains designs from them.
Of them, the Structural Engineer needs to be involved till completion of the structural work. He must consider the construction methodology before designing the structure, duly specifying the construction joints, and expansion joints after every 40 to 45 metres. He should also inspect the reinforcement for every pour of the floor beams, columns and slab and sign off the inspection requests and quality assurance forms to ensure compliance to the design and drawings.
Later on, the Structural Engineer has to sign off the document owning the responsibility for the structure - as per the statutory requirement - and submit it to the municipal authorities.
However, what happens in reality is totally different. Once the developer obtains drawings from the consultants, he would wish to manage the project all by himself by appointing one engineer and supervisors of ITI qualification and standard. This, he does to avoid paying the structural engineer for his site visits. In the absence of supervision by structural engineer for every pour of concrete and prior inspection of reinforcement, the strength of the building becomes questionable and buyer has every reason to doubt its structural stability.
(The writer is an engineer and Secretary, Precast Concrete Engineers Society)