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Posted: Sat Nov 13, 2004 7:39 am Post subject: Damage & Liabilities
We must be able to debate and define liabilities for different scales of damages. Sefians could be broadly classified into several groups. 1. Those who do out-sourcing projects from USA and other countries. They must be signing some agreement which may define their liabilities. 2. Structural Engineering Consultancy Firms. They must not be signing one-sided contracts with open ended liability. 3. Govt and Public Sector Departments. I do not think they are made liable when damages occur. Some buildings had been damaged while under construction [the dome in one of the NPP], railway and road bridges after they are in use, earthquake damaged sarkari buildings. 4. Engineers who are engaged by Architects. This category is most vulnerable.
SEFI should bring out recommendations on liability for the fourth category. Let us assume that the engineer is honest, does his work according to the codes. Is he protected if he gives the drawings stating all assumptions.
We need be pessimistic for building behaviour under normal vertical loads as Statistics would show microscopic damages to RC Buildings either during construction or later. However, the situation would be entirely different due to natural and man made disasters. There will be damages to buildings subject to future strong earthquakes whether designed according to codes or not. The code envisages some damage before ductile deformations come into play. Will these be accepted by authorities and media or will they call for blood of the engineers. We will have the normal slogans by arm-chair critics " earthquakes do not kill but the buildings do"
WE DEFINITELY NEED TO DEFINE LIABILITIES AND RELATE TO ORDER OF DAMAGES.
Is there something like damage "DUE TO ACT OF GOD" I was involved in an Industrial Project where damages were originally claimed but I could prove that the codes were defective and did not envisage the situation that arose in that particular environment. I suggested that it is due to ignorance [Act of GOD] and my conclusions were accepted and no damages were paid.
BIS revised the codes  in 2002. What is the liability if damage occurs to buildings designed according to earlier versions Microzonation recommendations may make 2002 revision based design as defective.
I am particularly interested in a construction problem - cracking of masonry partition walls in new buildings within one year of construction. Can the builder or the engineer be made liable to pay damages to the owner of the flat. One such builder asked me whether there is a technique to build such masonry walls which will not show any cracks. I do not know the solution. Will appreciate some suggestions from fellow Sefians. Also, please advice advice how to repair such cracks so that it is not an annual exercise.
Let us debate this issue. It is not an academic issue. To some it would be their professional career.
A R Chandrasekaran
PS: I am very much interested in getting advice on cracking of walls.
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