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RE: "Percentage" of building or building component failures attributed to design

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Usually it seems to me, when something goes wrong it is because of a combination of things going wrong. I think most buildings are designed with enough of a safety factor and are forgiving enough that they can handle a single error, whether in construction or design.


For example, the Save-On-Foods roof collapse in Vancouver, BC, about 20 years ago occurred not only because of missing bracing but also because the contractor decided to replace styrofoam insulation with concrete on a roof top parking structure.



-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Polhemus [mailto:bill(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Sunday, October 24, 2004 7:18 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Q: "Percentage" of building or building component failures attributed to design




I’d like some opinions—preferably backed up with facts—as to the percentage of building or building component failures that can be attributed to DESIGN, as opposed to construction flaws.


I suspect—though I don’t know—that the number of failures that can be laid at the feet of the designer is probably quite low—maybe in the five percent range. In contrast, I suspect that the number of failures attributable to constructors not following the plans and specs, using the wrong materials, inadequate attention to detail, etc., is high.


I cannot prove this but it stands to reason. The goal of an engineer and that of a constructor are radically different, and the constructor actually has the hardest task, obviously.


I would like to establish some sort of documented criterion for my belief. Any comments would be most welcome.