Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Owner’s Interest Versus Standard Practice: When To Say ‘NO’ - Engr. Osaz’ ENOBAKHARE

Yes, it is true that the Customer is always King, however kings also live by standards; no sane king would allow his throne to be desecrated with thrash and garbage. In practice, there is often the desire to constantly satisfy the requirements and expectations of a project owner but it is also good to do this with some caution. There are well documented minimum architectural and engineering standards that guide the design and construction of buildings and other associated infrastructure which should be strictly adhered to. They are set at minimum so as to allow for some degree of flexibility in the use of discretion to play above them but definitely not to go below.  However it has been observed that some constructors even in collusion with their Clients deliberately pretend they don’t know it matters; putting the lives and properties of the future users or occupiers of such facilities in danger. Let’s take common case scenarios;

Some project owners are fond of requesting that their designers or architects produce two sets of drawings; one to be submitted for approval while the other set is to be actually built. Most times the later sets of drawings fall below currently acceptable minimum design standard. Some of these buildings do not meet basic access, ventilation and spacing requirements. Once completed, future occupiers of such buildings may have to suffer from poor air circulation even in the midst of plenty air or poor allowance for escape from fire, etc. Owners of such properties may have compelled the designers to deliberately manipulate the later set of building design to satisfy some selfish economic interests at the expense of the health and life of the future occupiers. Some others who are even seen to be working with the approved design still prevail on the constructor during construction to manipulate it against the requirement of the building code inasmuch as it is to their benefit, especially if the building is developed for investment purpose.        

Similarly, some others abuse the quantities or sizes of aggregates and mix ratios. It is established in basic engineering code that the larger the aggregates (or granite) used to produce a concrete the stronger the concrete product, therefore it is completely absurd to use stone dust or quarter-inch granite in the common mix ratio to construct load bearing elements like foundations, suspended floors, columns and beams especially in single and multi-storey buildings. But there are ongoing projects where this sort of awkward activity is done with so much impunity even under the watchful eye of the project owner. Sometimes the excuse is that such aggregates are cheaper and voluminous thereby helping to save overall construction cost but saving cost at the expense of lives is obviously not the way to go.

There are many of such ugly acts which cannot be captured in a single article but the crux of the matter is that contractors should learn to avoid undue influence from their client and insist on doing the right thing especially in critical processes.

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