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Re: Q: "Percentage" of building or building component failures attributed to design

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On Oct 24, 2004, at 10:17 AM, Bill Polhemus wrote:

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.
The rule for product liability cases is that design flaws exist in every embodiment of a particular design. Manufacturing or construction defects usually exist in only a few particular cases. Over here on the dark side I've had very few instances of true design flaws--maybe 5-10% of the cases I've testified in, either defense or plaintiff. The breakdown gets muddled because of designs where proper fabrication is tricky. My guess is that the 5-10% figure might double or triple if you include those with details made without engineering consideration of fabricability. I've run into plenty of engineers who feel that fabrication isn't their concern or who don't know enough to make those judgments. The breakdown gets muddled further when you consider how many flaws never come to light because the design never sees the anticipated service loading.

As far as buildings are concerned, I daresay that the amount of hand labor and the lesser degree (to judge from all the threads on this list concerning inspection) of engineering supervision makes for a higher percentage of fabrication defects. OTOH, all the recent instances of moisture damage, mold intrusion and air quality problems in buildings are 100% engineering defects. For what that's worth.

Christopher Wright P.E. |"They couldn't hit an elephant at
chrisw(--nospam--at)    | this distance" (last words of Gen.
...................................| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania 1864)

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