What is building pathology?

What is Building Pathology? 

What is building pathology? It’s a method of studying and analysing buildings to examine any defects they havethat could affect their performance and future maintenance.   

Studying the pathology of a building can give a clear and informed picture to contractors such as building control inspectors and structural surveyors as to how a property should be looked after to ensure it stays safe and structurally sound.  

If you think about pathology in terms of its medical context, it is the studying of diseases and illness to understand how they affect the human body, and how they can be treated. Building pathology, in turn involves complex and methodical study of buildings, how they are put together and the environment they are in, in order to understand any failures that occur.  

Building pathology takes an interdisciplinary, holistic approach which recognizes that buildings do not exist in isolation and that they interact with occupants and their surroundings. Failure to adopt such an approach, can lead to misdiagnosis and further faults and defects occurring.  

Understanding Building Pathology 

Building pathology takes into account three different factors. These are: 

  1. Identifying, investigating and determining what has caused the building defect 
  2. Recommending how this defect can be fixed. 
  3. Carrying out, supervising and monitoring remedial work.  

Investigations into building defects begin with a detailed survey of the property and a study which looks into the history and background of the building.  

All buildings are unique and need to be considered in terms of their context, when they were designed and built, and any changes that have occurred, through to the function the building currently has.  

Each part of a building has its own characteristics and requirements, all of which can lead to different kinds of failure. These must be investigated and considered carefully in order to make a correct diagnosis of a problem and to develop a sound remedial strategy for its repair.  

Building pathology can be used to  

  1. Give a potential buyer or tenant confidence in a property 
  2. Work out who is responsible for repairs. 
  3. Find out how stable a building is and how likely or unlikely it is to experience major failure. 
  4. Find and diagnose defects when the symptoms arise.  
  5. Understand why a building is in the condition it is in 
  6. Make sure it is legally compliant 
  7. Give advice on repairs 
  8. Give an assessment on damage after an incident.  

Issues that may require assessment are as follows: 

  1. Damp and mould 
  2. Building movement or cracking 
  3. Ait tightness and the temperature of the building 
  4. Environmental interaction 
  5. Issues with drainage  
  6. The health of the people who live there or occupy the building for work 
  7. Problems with noise/sound 

Understanding building defects 

A defect in a building can arise because the building was not built in accordance with the contract that was originally set out, or because there are certain components or areas of the design that have failed.  

Defects can be categorised in two ways, either as ‘latent’ or ‘patent’.  

  • Latent defects 

These are defects which cannot be found by means of a reasonable inspection or that are not immediately apparent. For example, issues with the foundations of a building.  

  • Patent defects 

These are issues which can be found by means of a reasonable inspection, so perhaps underlying issues with plastering, woodwork or exposed bricks.  

Reasons why Defects might Occur 

There are many reasons why defects to building might occur, that require the services of a property damage or building restoration London service. These can include: 

  • Design issues 

If there were issues with the initial design plans for the building that were not addressed before building took place, then this can lead to defects further down the line.  

  • Material Deficiencies 

Sometimes there can be problems that arise with the manufacturing of materials that were used to construct the building, that were not picked up on at an initial inspection. These can then cause problems with the building once it is built and in use.  

  • Problems with Workmanship 

In addition to this, problems with workmanship can also cause defects to buildings. Poorly laid brickwork or badly constructed joinery may result in longer term maintenance issues that need to be rectified.  

  • General Deterioration and Improper Care 

General day to day wear and tear on buildings from every day use can cause defects, especially if proper maintenance is not carried out on a regular basis to ensure safety and compliance.  

  • Environmental Factors 

External factors such as general weathering of a building, or even the effects of extreme weather events can take their toll and if problems arise, that are then ignored or not properly attended to at the time they occur, they can cause building defects.  

Building Defects can be: 

  • Fundamental 

Tis can mean that the building is in such a state that it has become unsafe and needs to be demolished. It can also mean that it is in breach of a permission.  

  • Functional 

If a building defect is functional it can affect the occupancy of the building.  

  • Cosmetic 

If a building defect is purely cosmetic it might not affect the occupancy of the building but will mean that repairs will still need to be carried out.  

Once a defect has been noted, work, carried out by a professional property damage company may be necessary to correct them. This is not always a straightforward procedure as it is not always immediately clear what constitutes a defect and also what has caused the defect in the first place.  

It could be a design fault with the building, or issues with the workmanship during construction. There may be structural issues that have not been detected. Further, it is not always clear cut as to where the fault lies, whether it is with one, or more party.  

Repair works to correct building defects can be complex and costly if not detected by proper building structure analysis and carried out by a professional property maintenance company.  

Why Choose Property Damage UK? 

We have a full team of building surveyors and pathologists who can help. Our team consists of fully qualified IICRC Water Damage Restoration Technicians, Applied Structural Drying Technicians, Fire Damage Restoration Technicians and FLIR Thermal Imaging Engineers.  

We also work with qualified and experienced builders, roofers, building surveyors, structural engineers, party wall surveyors, and chartered surveyors to cover all aspects of building pathology work.  

If you’re looking for experienced contractors who can help you resolve any potential building defects you have concerns about then please click on the following link for more help and advice https://propertydamageuk.com/our-services/building-pathology-london/