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971 Workmanship in domestic buildings

Report ID: 971

Published: Newsletter 60 - October 2020

Report Overview

A steel beam had the web cut away at the support to avoid having to divert some services.

Report Content

A reporter on site discovered that a steel beam had the web cut away at the support to avoid having to divert some services. The cut-out meant that the whole of the loading on the beam would have been supported by just bending in the bottom flange once the temporary props had been removed.

Additionally, the site staff did not have all the structural drawings for the project, so had made up a beam to column connection as a flexible end plate whereas there needed to be a full moment end plate connection.

Comments

Domestic projects may not have the full range of professionals around and are, especially for one-off buildings, constructed by firms with limited resources. This does not exempt the builders, or anyone else involved, from acting responsibly and it is a real concern that sections of a major load-bearing component could simply be cut away for the convenience of a service installer.

That there was an incomplete set of structural drawings on site shows a lack of oversight particularly when the design called for a full moment end plate connection. The theme of ‘failure by unauthorised change’ is commonplace. As in other reports in the Newsletter this exemplifies why a person who is not competent must not make design alterations that could have severe consequences.

Designers, whoever employs them; client, main contractor or sub-contractor, must ensure that the final drawings are distributed to all parties and that they approve the detailed designs and drawings. Contractors, if they are unsure about any structural matters, must consult the designers and not assume design responsibilities by devising their own details.

Some sectors of the industry are allowing incompetence to reign. Large and complex buildings are the focus of current interest with the draft Building Safety Bill but the proposed legislation needs to be in place for smaller buildings too to prevent such dangerous occurrences in future. Thankfully, this one was picked up, but how many are not?

 

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View other CROSS reports published in Newsletter 60


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