Luxury amenities like a splash swimming pool, a Jacuzzi, a grand look and other such attractive facilities allure us but we tend to forget in the glamour, the basic safety of a building. It is often noticed that after a calamity like the earthquake that happened in Nepal people become concerned about natural disasters and the safety of buildings. The severity of the casualties that happened in Nepal awfully revealed the incompetence of the builders in building safe structures. Thousands were killed and few thousands were injured and met fatalities. This is of course not wanted. It is often said, safety is the first consideration. That should be the buzzword in the construction world.
Just after the earthquake we see that many builders started claiming that their buildings are earthquake resistant. But the expert opines that the reality is unfortunately not so. They are just built according to the National Building Codes and they provide the structural safety. If a building or a structure is earthquake resistant then the structure would be certified by a civil engineer that it is Seismic Design Compliant which is not the case with many of the buildings proclaiming as earthquake resistant. Thus many of these buildings are proclaimed so because of marketing hype.
It is also true that the structures that meet the basic structural safety measures and standards can be earthquake resistant to a certain extent. But at the same time there is no building that is 100 percent earthquake resistant. The best of the earthquake proof buildings can resist the worst of earthquakes but there is no guarantee till man conquers nature to the full.
But in this backdrop when we see that most of the Indian cities are in the seismic zone IV and V and the market is overusing the term of earthquake resistance what should a lay man do. We went to the experts and few of the top structural engineers have given us tips to check the few safety measures that we mention below.
- The buildings should be constructed on hard strata of the soil and on strong pile foundation.
- A proper soil test should be conducted to ensure that the land surface is safe enough to hold the intended building. If not suitable measures for ground improvement should be undertaken to bring it up to the required safety standards.
- The materials of the construction should be of top quality and quality checks should be conducted to see that structural safety is according to the plan.
- Earthquake resistant steel known as TMT steel can resist earthquakes and natural calamities to a great extent owing to its ductility. The binding bars and their chemical and mechanical properties go a long way in providing safety measures.
- Slope stabilizing measures should be adopted in hill areas to resist damage.
- In high earthquake prone areas, low rise structures are safe and usage of light-weight materials can be helpful.
- Embedded metal strips can protect the buildings to a great extent. Such measures as the modern design science prescribes should be implemented to minimize the risk and optimize the costs as well.