Defects Analysis

Defects may be considered as failings or shortcoming in the function, performance, statutory or user requirements of a building, and will manifest within the structure, fabric, services or other facilities of the building. KEYS Consulting have huge experience investigating defects and specifying appropriate remedial works.

Fault Finding

The survey and assessment of buildings, which combine the diagnosis of defects in the structure, fabric and services, together with the forecasting of how such problems might develop in the future, requires a detailed understanding of the building. In particular, an appreciation of how the building is constructed, how it is being used, which alterations have been carried out, and how it has been repaired and maintained. Defects are discovered either by an occupant through the manifestation of an obvious fault (such as a leaking roof) or during a planned inspection or survey of the building by a building professional. We recommend that clients with a property portfolio carry out regular surveys to mitigate expensive remedial works associated with defects.

Defects Analysis

Where defects are complex or conflict with other available information, a scientific approach to diagnosis is necessary. Through this, a particular line of reasoning or investigation is tested against known or assumed facts so that it might be proved or rejected in favour of another. Our approach is based on a number of stages:

  • observations – observe and record visible symptom
  • theories – develop a number of theories based on observations
  • questions – define a set of questions to differentiate between theories
  • tests – find answers to questions (e.g. specialised survey, monitoring or chemical testing) 
  • analysis – analyse and interpret results
  • conclusions – match diagnosis to symptoms and results
  • feedback – redefine questions as required to support new information and prognosis
  • action – develop appropriate course of remedial works

Examples of common building defects, their symptoms and possible causes

Common Defects
Possible Causes
Defective concrete, spalling or loose plaster in ceilings
01. Surface with water/rust staining, water leakage
02. Patterned cracking
03. Bulging, loose concrete patches with exposed reinforcement often rusty
Defective concrete as a result of ageing is commonly found in old buildings. Persistent water leakage affect the steel reinforcement.
Water seepage from external wall, window, roof, or from ceiling
01. Water staining
02. Peeling off of paint or wall paper
03. Water dripping
04. Growth of fungus
05. Defective concrete, plaster or tiles
External water seepage could be due to a variety of reasons including cracks on external wall, defective sealant at windows, defective external water and drainage pipes, etc
Structural cracks in walls
01. Cracks that penetrate through finishes into the concrete or bricks
02. Long, continuous cracks across width of wall
03. Diagonal cracks at corners of window or door
Structural cracks may be caused by many factors, e.g. excessive movement of the building structure, ground settlement, serious overloading, or poor design/ construction, etc. Detailed investigation must be carried out to identify the cause(s).

Cost of Remedial Works

The cost of remedial works will be affected by various issues including the nature and extent of the defect; the ease with which the work can be undertaken; standards of materials and workmanship; how the work is to be planned, managed and implemented; and the requirements of the building owner/user and relevant statutory authorities.  Subject to the nature of defect, KEYS Consulting considers the planned maintenance strategy and budget of a client to specify remedial works accordingly.

Case Studies