Across Indian cities, there are millions of old buildings that are in a dilapidated condition. In Mumbai alone, there are 14,375 dilapidated structures across the city and another 10,500 in the suburbs. Such structures pose an immense risk to people’s lives and to their belongings.
Buildings that are nearing their serviceable life and displaying signs of breakdown, require technical intervention for increasing their lifespan and avoiding any accidental failure due to a seismic event or other structural reason.
Repair and rehabilitation of buildings requires expertise since it not only involves giving a facelift to the structures, but also safeguarding the occupants’ belongings and their associated memories and sentiments.
Categorisation of Building Failures
Building failure can be categorised into the two broad groups: Physical failure and Performance failure. Experts believe that most of the buildings collapse in India due to the use of substandard materials, lack of know-how about materials, and inadequate supervision in constructing multi-storey structures.
Exposure to extreme heat and water can extract its toll on a structure and lead to damage. Infact, a major natural cause for a building collapse is rainfall, so buildings should be constructed bearing in mind the climatic conditions of the region. The gradual decay of buildings is most commonly due to lack of periodic maintenance, especially when the building falls under the Rent Control Act.
Detection & Remedial Measures
Unfortunately, detection of most damages happens during the renovation phase or when the leakage becomes unbearable for the occupants. However, most of these issues can be resolved by waterproofing. During repair and rehabilitation, special attention needs to be paid to areas such as the foundation, basement, bathrooms, balconies, and roof, all of which are highly prone to water damage.
Economic Viability of Repairs
Repairs and rehabilitation should be undertaken if it remains the only economically viable option vis-à-vis replacement of the structure. It is also important that repairs are undertaken keeping in mind the total life-cycle cost, rather than only the initial capital expenditure.
Repairs undertaken today may cost less, but spending more on replacement for a permanent remedy may considerably reduce the total cost of the structure over its lifespan. Hence, when deciding on alternatives, one must consider the long-term cost of ownership.
When to Act
Although, most cracks are not detrimental to a building’s integrity, they may require treatment due to cosmetic reasons or to take proactive steps to prevent the cracks from becoming bigger over time and eventually damaging the structure. One must remember that tiny fractures can also lead to other, more severe challenges, if ignored. Hence, home owners should take immediate necessary action to eliminate even the small harmless cracks as soon as they appear.
Importance of Waterproofing
When one considers repair and rehabilitation, the most challenging aspect is waterproofing. Inadequate waterproofing can lead to cracks, leakages, falling parapets and wet walls. Unfortunately, there is little awareness about technologies and products that aid leak and crack-proof construction. If waterproofing is not executed properly and under the guidance of experts, it can lead to corrosion, and structurally weaken the building, thereby reducing its lifespan.
In India, where both the monsoon and summer are extremely severe, waterproofing is a crucial necessity in every home, and more so in rehabilitation projects. Basically, water- proofing is a procedure in which a thin layer of water resistant material is applied on the building to prevent the entry of water.
There are innovative water- proofing solutions available that not only offer the benefits of painting, but also keep the building safe from possible leakage, and also provide respite from the heat in the summer months. What makes coating a preferred option is the toughness it offers as compared to just painting of the walls. Coating provides complete protection to the building from natural elements for a prolonged period. Film forming coatings create a protective film on the surface of the walls to protect it from moisture, and preventing the ingress of water, while giving it a decorative finish. Then there is the Penetrative Prime, which is the first coat that seals pores in the plaster/concrete, and suppresses the alkalinity of the surface, making it efflorescence-resistant.
Innovative Products for waterproofing
- Dr. Fixit Roofseal is a revolutionary waterproofing product that provides a comprehensive solution for leaking roofs and terraces. For proper and correct application of the product, Pidilite has trained applicators across India.
- Dr. Fixit Newcoat Ezee is a two-coat waterproofing product for terraces. This hassle-free, economical and reliable waterproofing system can be applied over the traditional brickbat coba and mud fuska. The best practice (used internationally) is to coat the terrace with an elastomeric coating. Pidilite provides the same method.
- Dr. Fixit Blueseal is a unique Spray Applied Polyurethne Waterproofing System with no joints. It enables 2½ times better insulation and the manpower required is just 1/10th as compared to brickbat coba. The end result is a fool-proof waterproofing that is leak-free, and guarantees a superior performance in comparison to brickbat coba. Blueseal has bagged the prestigious Design Wall Award 2014 for its extraordinary innovation.
- Dr.Fixit LW+ is an integral liquid waterproofing compound that reduces water-permeability of concrete. Typically, the process is done in various layers and stages to create multiple barriers so that water does not seep into the structure. These layers form the ‘Building Envelope’ that waterproofs the structure. It is a specially formulated cement additive that increases the life of the building as it prevents formation of cracks, rust or leakage. Moreover, it makes concrete cohesive and prevents segregation. It improves the integral waterproofing properties of cement, concrete and plaster after curing, resulting in longer life of the building.