Understanding Building Failures: 4th Edition (Paperback) book cover

Understanding Building Failures

4th Edition

By James Douglas, Bill Ransom


332 pages | 98 B/W Illus.

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Building defects still continue to plague the construction industry. The lessons learned over the last forty years have not been fully applied. Many new or refurbished buildings still leak or crack. Lack of awareness by designers and installers as to the main mechanisms that trigger such failures remains a problem for the industry.

Investigating and rectifying building failures form a major part of building surveyors’ bread and butter work. This book provides guidance on this work for typical residential, commercial and industrial buildings – with advice on how to diagnose a wide range of defects with an emphasis on evidence based practice throughout. It considers both modern and older construction methods, together with new and traditional materials. The particular problems of alteration and renovation work are also discussed.

The first four chapters provide information and guidance on the methodology for investigating failures – how to prepare for and conduct an investigation into a building defect and subsequently diagnose its cause in a logical manner.

This fourth edition has been updated and expanded to cover the latest diagnostic procedures and research. It also includes Appendices and a new Bibliography, and provides an extensive list of books on building pathology and related topics in the UK and North America. It is essential reading for all students and practitioners interested in building surveying and building conservation.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction to Building Pathology 2. Principles of Building Diagnostics 3. Basic Investigative Methodology 4. Diagnostic Techniques and Tools 5. Deterioration Mechanisms 6. Durability and Service Life Assessment 7. Moisture 8. Foundations 9. Floors, Floor Finishes and DPMs 10. Walls and DPCs 11. Cladding 12. Doors and Windows 13. Roofs 14. Services 15. Failure Patterns and Control

About the Authors

James Douglas retired as a Lecturer and Course Leader in Building Surveying at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, at the end of December 2009. He qualified as a chartered building surveyor in 1986 after over twelve years in the public sector, dealing primarily with the maintenance and adaptation of building. In 1992 the College of Estate Management appointed him as a Visiting Lecturer in Technology, teaching and tutoring building technology and maintenance technology on its Diploma in Surveying course. In December 2012, as this book was nearing completion, he passed away after a long battle with illness.

Bill Ransom was a government research scientist working for the Building Research Establishment (BRE), the Department of the Environment and the Colonial Office travelling widely abroad to help resolve problems in construction technology. He retired in 1981 as head of the Building Integrity Division of the BRE and now lives in Devon.

About the Series

Understanding Construction

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Construction / General
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Drafting & Mechanical Drawing
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Engineering (General)