The Role of Forensic Engineering in Identifying the Causes of Construction Failures

23 July 2021

When it comes to constructing a building or structure, a lot of steps and phases must be done to ensure that the result of the project will be durable, long-lasting, and safe. From rigorous inspections and assessments down to the construction itself, all these things must be done carefully to avoid failures.

And so, if a building or structure manifests some issues and problems, all the involved personnel and professionals would have to pinpoint the root causes. Worse, if a building or structure collapses, then something has gone wrong during the vital phases of the construction project. Fortunately, even with a collapsed property, forensic engineering can still accurately trace the root causes of the failure.

The Fundamentals of Forensic Engineering

Forensic engineering delves into the step-by-step identification of events that would lead to the failure of a structure or building. Professionals or experts that practice this type of engineering use a wide variety of engineering principles and methodologies to critically establish the root causes of construction failures. As the root causes are established, the basis of the findings can then be used for litigation purposes.

An investigation that takes place with the help of forensic engineering often has five primary goals.

  1. To identify the cause(s) of failure
  2. To assess the damage to materials, products, structures
  3. To calculate possible repair estimate
  4. To collate statements from witnesses or injured parties
  5. To know whether the construction failure is caused by an illegal or improper activity

For the investigation to proceed, all assembled professionals would have to gather information about the structure or building as well as inspect the site visually. They also have to review the documents available about the project, photograph the incident, analyse data, and research the codes and industry standards that must be present when constructing the structure or building. All gathered data and possibly evidence of illegal or improper activity will then be used to develop opinions and conclusion, prepare culpability worksheets, and provide data to lawyers.

Common Causes of Construction Failures

As more forensic engineering investigations are carried out, the following problems are known to be the causes of construction failures.

  • Weak foundations: One part of a project that must not be compromised is the foundation. The foundation serves as the main element that must hold the building or structure and sustain its load for a very long time. If the foundation is weak, then the constructed structure or building may easily collapse as the load goes beyond the limit.
  • Fragile materials: Construction materials must be durable to sustain the structure of the property. They must likewise withstand elements that may present in the surroundings. Failure to meet the codes and industry standards can easily cause a building or structure to collapse.
  • Human error: One more cause of construction failures is human error. Even with the right materials, workers can still do some mistakes that would eventually cost the structural integrity of the building or structure. Architects and engineers who have designed the construction plan can likewise miscalculate some aspects of the project, which can likewise lead to its failure.

For more information about forensic engineering, you can call us at Fairdinkum Technical Services.

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