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POST-OCCUPANCY DEFECTS IN PUBLIC OFFICE BUILDINGS IN NAIROBI, KENYA: THE CAUSES AND RATINGS. OchiengR.O, Dianga S.O . and Wanyona G. Department of Construction Management, School of Architecture and Building Sciences Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology P.O.Box 62000-00100,Nairobi,Kenya Corresponding e-mail: rochieng06@yahoo.com

ABSTRACT

An insight into the budgets for maintenance programmes for Public Office Buildings in Kenya and many other developing countries reveals budgetary deficits leading to ever increasing defects backlog. The major consequence of this sad situation is the un-checked deteriorated state of the public office buildings stock resulting to disruption of delivery of public services through equipment breakdowns or/and building element or component failures. The aim of this study is therefore to determine and rate causes of common buildings defects with a view of formulating appropriate strategies for managing them. The common buildings defects were established through inspections of sampled public office buildings located in the Nairobi City. A qualitative research strategy was crafted to obtain perceptions of sampled maintenance experts in the public sector on eight possible causes of buildings defects. The ranking of the eight possible causes of common buildings defects. The ranking of the eight possible causes was analysed in a Likert Scale of 1 in 8 through computation of the mean item scores. The findings established that poor supervision, negligence, vandalism and design deficiency are major contributors to common defects. The findings are expected to aid policy makers put in place preventive strategies to minimize the manifestation of common defects with the purpose of drastically reducing maintenance workscope and budgets.

Key Words:

Public Office Buildings, Building Maintenance, Defects Causes, Defects Ratings.

INTRODUCTION

The aging, utilization and exposure of all classes and categories of buildings to the weather culminates to deterioration and reduced performance. The rationale behind building maintenance is to increase service life of buildings by delaying deterioration, decay and failure by extending usage (Idris et al, 2009). It is therefore imperative that factors that instigate and accelerate the manifestation of defects are assessed.

Public office buildings provide infrastructure for the delivery of public services to citizens. The need to have the spaces provided by this facilities in reasonable standards to achieve the desirable functionality requirements is paramount (Maver, 1971 and Ozguner, 1986). This is however not the case in the developing world, thus challenging key policy makers to engage a paradigm shift from contemporary maintenance systems bedeviled with in-efficiency and low budgetary provision.

A desirable maintenance system would incorporate an effective/efficient building maintenance framework that would meet maintenance targets within optimal budgets. In-adequate budgetary allocation for maintenance programmes of public facilities in Malaysia has consequently made it difficult to meet maintenance targets (Lateef 2009 and Ishak et al, 2009). This is the situation in Kenya that has led to un-checked deterioration of the public office building stock (Republic of Kenya, 2011). With the ever increasing public office buildings stock coupled with no commensurate budgetary backup, it is only necessary that appropriate strategies are put in place to bring down maintenance workscope, key of which to manage impacts of causes of common defects.

The study therefore attempts to investigate causes of common defects with a view of crafting appropriate preventive maintenance strategies to effectively manage their impacts with the long term goal of minimizing maintenance workscope. The resultant reduced maintenance workscope would lower maintenance budgets, a scenario that is appropriate for Kenya and other third world countries where budgets for public building maintenance programmes are constrained.

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BUILDING DEFECTS, CAUSES AND RATINGS

Several definations of a building defect have been coined by various experts in the building maintenance fraternity. Diyana (2009) defines a defect as non-conformity with a specified standard or characteristic. www.buildingdefect.com.au,2009 however defines a building defect as non-compliance with the building code for newly constructed buildings and non-compliance with maintenance standards for old buildings. A defect is therefore a material, component or finish which does not meet its expected performance criteria.

The existing situation in the third world reveals that despite government’s commitments

toward building maintenance, Public buildings have not been effectively maintained. For instance, Ahmad et al (2006) claims that public buildings in Malaysia lack adequate attention even though the government has allocated enormous resources to finance maintenance activities. In Kenya, the situation is worse as maintenance targets cannot be met culminating to serious defects backlog rendering most public buildings in deplorable conditions. (Republic of Kenya, 2011). This state of events calls for a review, re-evaluation and re-assessment of the current maintenance systems to mitigate on its shortcomings. One of the key areas in maintenance considered for investigation in this study to partly achieve the objective is to determine and rate causes of building defects so as to be able to reduce maintenance workscope through appropriate preventive maintenance strategies.

Chartered Institute of Buildings (1990) propagates that the key rationale behind maintenance is to keep, restore and improve facility of building and its services to set standards through appropriate management of defects. The determination and rating of causes of common building defects therefore provides an insight on the preventive maintenance mechanisms required to minimize their impacts.

Thorough and accurate defects analysis is key to successful maintenance as this is a sure way of diagnosing their root causes (Chohan et al, 2011). This will therefore certainly provide the appropriate prescriptions for managing the defects rather than treating the symptoms.

In general, there are several building defects spread in various building elements or component. Akasha et al (2007) states that maintenance activity covers the whole building envelope which

include structural systems, roofing, exteriors/interiors, walls. In addition, electrical/mechanical services and the surround of buildings are also key components of a building envelope. A comprehensive building maintenance strategy must therefore target defects in all components.

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Past studies reveal the existence of various classes of defects in the post-occupancy stage of buildings attributed to various reasons. Chohan et al (2011), Desai (2008), Kamal et al (2007), Diyana (2009), Ahmad (2004), Teo et al (2006), Chong et al (2006),Lounis et al (2000) and www.resource4constructiondefects.com/topics/causesofdefecs.html conducted studies on defects on various building types from residential properties to office buildings including historical ones, the most prevalent of which include:-

Crazing/Cracklines

Delamination

Algae growth

 

Hairy and structural cracks

 

Spalling

Corrosion

of

exposed

reinforcement

bars

Sinking

or

deflection

of

structural

members

Efflorescence

Fallen/loose plaster

Façade deterioration

Leakage as a result of roof envelope failure

Honey combing

Defective electrical fittings

General vandalism

Termite infestation on timber.

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Chalking

Paint peeling

Dampness/Water seapage

 

Falling of concrete cover

Deflection

or

sagging

of

structural

elements

Salty deposits/stains on surface

 

Holes in walls

 

Disintegration of mortar joints

 

Defective rain water goods

 

Leaking plumbing/drainage fittings

Defective joinery fittings

 

Fallen off/broken glass panes

 

Warped/rotten timber

 

Blocked storm water/sewer drains

 

Unustable foundation

 

These defects are therefore common and appear from building to building calling for need to strategise on how to manage their manifestation in order that maintenance workscope and costs are controlled.

Establishing and managing the root causes of building defects is significant in minimizing building maintenance cost, a strategy that could do well in the developing world where financing of maintenance of public buildings is a major challenge. This fact is confirmed by Lee (1987), Al-Khatam (2003), Ahmad (2004) and Kamal et al (2007) who argue that building defects should not just be managed through treatment of symptoms but through accurate diagnosis of their root causes for either elimination or minimization. Chong and Low (2006) however indicates that eliminating building defects altogether can be an uphill task. Timely and accurate diagnosis of defects is therefore a fundamental strategy towards effective management of maintenance of public office buildings.

While www.buildingdefects.com.au,2009 cites substandard workmanship, lack of expertise, non-compliance with standards, lack of adequate maintenance, aging, lack of professional supervision and insect infestation are major catalysts for defects manifestation. The National Building Agency (1985) attributes causes of defects primarily as design deficiency and poor supervision. Kamal et al (2007) refers to five main factors that include designs not being sensitive to climatic and geological conditions, subjecting the buildings to the functions and loads for which they were not designed for, inadequate maintenance to check further deterioration of building elements and gross neglect arising out of failure to regularly inspect/carry out maintenance. According to www. resourceconstructiondefects. com the major causes of common defects include improper soil analysis, adoption of defective building materials, negligent construction and construction deficiencies. Studies by Al-Khatam (2003) reveal that most building defects arise out of faulty designs, poor workmanship and poor management attributed to designers, maintenance experts and contractors expertise; experience and non compliance with specifications, a scenario that is also projected by Ramly et al (2007) and Chohan et al (2010). Olubodem and Mole (1999) also argues in favour of design criteria but however includes ageing as a major contributor to general wear and tear in public buildings. Olubodun (2001) however cites vandalism and improper use of property as major instigators of defects in public buildings, an aspect that has resulted to the dilapidated condition of public office buildings in Kenya. An investigation done by Diyana (2009) concludes that poor workmanship as a result of in- effective supervision during the construction stage is a major contributor to defects manifestation confirming the fact that buildings whose construction do not allow for appropriate quality control measures have major defects at post-occupancy stage. In-

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adequate funding of maintenance programmes leads to defects backlogs and can in essence trigger more severe and costly defects that could even cause total structural failure (Bowles et al (1997), Chanter and Swallow (2007), Adenuga et al (2007).

That the maintenance funding allocations for public buildings is never adequate is also experienced in Kenya and has significantly contributed to the dilapidated state of Public buildings (Republic of Kenya, 2011). This has been compounded by the other factors discussed above that instigate defects in various ratings. The factors that cause defects in public office buildings can therefore be summarized as normal tear/wear through aging, vandalism, design deficiency, negligence, natural phenomena, termite infestation, management problems and poor supervision. The study aims to rate these factors in order of severity to determine those with significant impacts for prioritization for management which in the long run will minimize maintenance costs of public office buildings in Kenya .

RESEARCH METHDOLOGY

A qualitative strategy with a cross section survey design was adopted for the study. Ninety (90) experts were identified through a simple random sampling technique from a target population of one hundred and twenty (120) maintenance experts across the public sector based in the Nairobi City. The common buildings defects were established through an inspection of thirty nine (39) public office buildings sampled from a target population of fifty two (52) builidngs by means of a stratified random sampling technique. Structured questionnaires were administered to the sampled maintenance experts to obtain their perceptions on the ratings of the common possible factors identified. The respondents ranked these factors on a 1in 8 Likert- scale. The data was then analysed qualitatively using SPSS software to arrive at mean item scores.

FINDINGS/DISCUSSIONS

An inspection of the sampled buildings revealed defects of more or less similar characteristics from one building to another that include leakages, broken glass panes , defective joinery/plumbing/electrical fittings, discoloured surfaces, worn out floors, cracks, blocked drains and vandalized fittings.

Maintenance experts from the public service were asked to state and rank causes of these common defects. A list of possible causes of common defects was included in the questionnaire which acted as a basis for ranking. The list included normal wear and tear,

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vandalism, design deficiency, negligence, natural phenomena, infestation by termites, management problems and poor supervision.

The ranking was done in order to establish causes of defects with the highest impact to be targeted for management in maintenance cost minimization. The mean item scores for the factors was then computed. The results are displayed in Table 1 and graphically represented in Figure 1.

Table 4.3: Rating of Causes of Common Building Defects

Source: Field Data

 

Normal tear

 

Design

 

Natural

Termite

Mgt.

Poor

& wear

Vandalism

deficiency

Negligence

Phenomena

infestation

problems

supervision

Mean

               

Item

Score

0.49

0.59

0.57

0.63

0.40

0.38

0.53

0.63

vandalism, design deficiency, negligence, natural phenomena, infestation by termites, management problems and poor supervision. The ranking

Figure 1: Graphical Representation of Rating of Causes of Common Buildings Defects

Source: Field Data

99% of the sampled maintenance experts responded and ranked the various causes of common building maintenance defects in a Likert Scale of 1 in 8 at different ratings. The ratings were computed in the form of mean item scores placing poor supervision and negligence on top as the most significant contributors to common buildings defects at 0.63 with natural phenomena lying last at 0.40. Rating for other causes include vandalism at 0.59, design deficiency at 0.57, management problems at 0.53, in addition to normal wear and tear at 0.49. The rating of the

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causes of defects was necessary to prioritize the causes with most impact for management so as to minimize maintenance costs in the long run.

The high rating for poor supervision agrees well with the findings from Al-Khatam (2003), Diyana (2009), National Building Agency (1985) and www.buildingdefect.com.au, 2009. In addition, negligence which tied with poor supervision in first ranking confirms findings from Kamal et al (2007) and Olubodun. (2001). Photographs 1 and 2 below captures defects attributed to poor supervision and negligence respectively as observed during an inspection of the sampled public office buildings.

causes of defects was necessary to prioritize the causes with most impact for management so aswww.buildingdefect.com.au , 2009. In addition, negligence which tied with poor supervision in first ranking confirms findings from Kamal et al (2007) and Olubodun. (2001). Photographs 1 and 2 below captures defects attributed to poor supervision and negligence respectively as observed during an inspection of the sampled public office buildings. Photograph 1: Peeled off PVC Floor Finish at Treasury Attributed to Poor Supervision During Construction. Photograph 2: Loose Electrical Power socket at Works House Attributed to Negligent Movement of Furniture or Goods This requires negligible effort to repair The extent of vandalism in public office buildings as instigator of defects is demonstrated by this study which mirrors the findings of Olubodun (2001). Photographs 3 and 4 depicts defects generated through vandalism. 8 " id="pdf-obj-7-9" src="pdf-obj-7-9.jpg">
causes of defects was necessary to prioritize the causes with most impact for management so aswww.buildingdefect.com.au , 2009. In addition, negligence which tied with poor supervision in first ranking confirms findings from Kamal et al (2007) and Olubodun. (2001). Photographs 1 and 2 below captures defects attributed to poor supervision and negligence respectively as observed during an inspection of the sampled public office buildings. Photograph 1: Peeled off PVC Floor Finish at Treasury Attributed to Poor Supervision During Construction. Photograph 2: Loose Electrical Power socket at Works House Attributed to Negligent Movement of Furniture or Goods This requires negligible effort to repair The extent of vandalism in public office buildings as instigator of defects is demonstrated by this study which mirrors the findings of Olubodun (2001). Photographs 3 and 4 depicts defects generated through vandalism. 8 " id="pdf-obj-7-11" src="pdf-obj-7-11.jpg">

Photograph 1: Peeled off PVC Floor Finish at Treasury Attributed to Poor Supervision During Construction.

Photograph 2: Loose Electrical Power socket at Works House Attributed to Negligent Movement of Furniture or Goods This requires negligible effort to repair

The extent of vandalism in public office buildings as instigator of defects is demonstrated by this study which mirrors the findings of Olubodun (2001). Photographs 3 and 4 depicts defects generated through vandalism.

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Photograph 3: Missing Firefighting Hosereel Equipment at Jogoo House A Attributed to Vandalism. Photograph 4: Missing
Photograph 3: Missing Firefighting Hosereel Equipment at Jogoo House A Attributed to Vandalism. Photograph 4: Missing

Photograph 3: Missing Firefighting Hosereel Equipment at Jogoo House A Attributed to Vandalism.

Photograph 4: Missing Manhole Cover at NSSF Building Attributed to Vandalism

Although the study findings rank the design deficiency factor lowly at fourth position, this does not agree with past findings from Oluboden and Mole (1999), Ramly et al (2007) and Chohan et al (2010) who emphasizes on design deficiency as a major contributor to defects. The main reason for this discrepancy could be as a result of the difference in scope of the studies. This study focused in public office buildings where design quality is guaranteed as opposed to the three past studies referred to above. Photographs 5 and 6 below highlights design related defects captured during an inspection of sampled public office buildings.

Photograph 3: Missing Firefighting Hosereel Equipment at Jogoo House A Attributed to Vandalism. Photograph 4: Missing
Photograph 3: Missing Firefighting Hosereel Equipment at Jogoo House A Attributed to Vandalism. Photograph 4: Missing

Photograph 5: Defective Ceramic Floor Finish at Sheria House Attributed to In-appropriate Specification/Design.

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Photograph 6: Damaged Kitchenette Timber Work Top and Peeling Paint Due to Dampness at Jogoo House A Attribured to Deficient Design.

CONCLUSION/RECOMMENDATIONS

The aim of this study was to identify public office building defects and causes. It further included rating of factors that cause defects to enable maintenance managers prioritize those with the most impact for management. Appropriate strategy for managing these defects contributing factors is inevitable where there is greater need to minimize maintenance costs either for low budgetary provision or some other constraints.

The defects identified are majorly on masonry, concrete, carpentry/joinery, finishes and electrical/mechanical services. This include cracks, plant growth, corrosion, façade deterioration, structural failure, leakages/dampness, peeling plaster/paint, cracked/fallen glass panes, defective fittings, warped/rotten timber, termite infested timber and vandalized fittings. The major causes of defects in order of ranking with the most rated first include poor supervision, negligence, vandalism, design deficiency, management problems, normal tea/wear, natural phenomena and termite infestation.

The implication of these findings is that poor supervision, negligence, vandalism and design deficiency which has the most impact in instigating defects should be prioritized for management in order that building maintenance costs are drastically reduced in the long run. It is therefore recommended that further studies are directed to investigate appropriate strategies that would minimize the impacts of the defectscausing factors.

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