Top 5 Construction Defects in Civil and MEP Works

Defects bring down the value of construction projects and thus Third Party Consultants help identify problems and find solutions to deliver snag-free premises.

A persistent problem afflicting the construction industry in the country is the lack of the scientific knowledge even in skilled labor. There is a gap between the theory and the actual work done and that is where defects in buildings creep in. Empanelment of Third Party Consultants goes a long way in bridging this gap and helping clients deliver snag-free premises.


1. Cracks in Plaster

  • Any form of plaster, whether internal or external is a finished surface that covers the previous civil works done. It should be fool proof and crack free so that the overall structure covered by the plaster cannot be affected by weather or other conditions.
  • Improper materials, poor workmanship and improper practices are the primary causes of plaster cracks.
  • Deep cracks in plaster makes way for air passages that reach the internal structures like walls and concrete members, thus exposing them to external elements and damage.  
  • Delving deeper, there are many aspects of materials that cause plaster damage. For example, the material itself may not be suitable for plastering. Improper materials or workmanship can result in cracks and the entire plaster getting damaged.

2. Failure of Concrete

  • This is probably the severest of the defects in civil work and is a critical issue considering the high-rise structures that being constructed across cities.
  • Ready to pour concrete mix for any project is designed and approved by the project’s structural consultant as per the constituent material properties and it is mandatory that the mix design is adhered to. This is manufactured at Ready mix batching plants and the onus is on the plant to maintain the approved proportions of mix design throughout the duration of the project.
  • Sub standard materials, poor workmanship quality and overall sub standard practices; compromise in any of these aspects or all three can lead to the failure of concrete.

3. Hollowness in Installed Tiles

  • Hollowness in tiles is a major customer centric defect as it is the most apparent to end users.
  • Despite site engineers taking required precautions, poor workmanship and processes employed at site can cause defects in tile laying.
  • The material here is not an issue as tile quality is tested and approved by the tile manufacturers, and third party labs. Hence employing experienced workers with proper guidance during execution is important.

4. Waterproofing Failure

  • This is a very critical failure caused due to lack of awareness of the process to be followed during the initial stages of the project and poor workmanship.
  • Also a common cause for this failure is the wrong use of a particular system of waterproofing for a specific type of function. Waterproofing of a water tank requires a specialized process different from that used for flower beds, and that for toilets is different from terrace waterproofing. If the process is not for the intended use, the system may fail leading to further structural damage.
  • There is no training awareness imparted to engineers to review and approve a system of waterproofing. It is largely driven by waterproofing product companies that give presentations and convince clients to buy their products.

5. Door Warping

  • This is another customer centric issue. Doors and door frames are generally wooden in regular housing projects, and, stone frames, that do not warp, are usually installed in high end housing.
  • If not seasoned well, the wood of the door or frames can crack or warp and affect the overall quality and operation of the door.
  • So, material procurement and overall quality governance should be checked at the initial project stage and then approved to keep this defect at bay.


1. Electrical Conduiting Workmanship

  • Electrical conduiting is done during the casting of structural members.
  • Earlier columns and slabs were cast separately when the formwork was wooden. But the prevalent practice now is Aluminum Formwork (Aluform) Technology where columns, beams and slabs are cast together making it a composite structure. Hence the electrical boxes have to be fixed in the casting and conduiting has to be done while casting of the slab.
  • The conduiting is laid onsite as per the electrical drawings but during the casting process, due to the flow of concrete it can either change the location of the conduiting or choke it. So identifying chocked points and making them operational or devising a bypass method is very critical to all this new Aluform technology that it used.

2. Electrical Earthing Not Provided

  • This is customer centric defect as the effects are directly perceived by the end user.
  • Earthing means the transfer of electrical charges directly to the ground or the earth for safety purposes in an electrical system.  If proper Earthing is not provided in a construction project then there are chances of short circuits or fuses.
  • This gives rise to dangerous situations like current leakage leading to electrical shocks, damage of electrical appliances or even fires. Hence this is an important aspect that MEP engineers need to focus on.

3. Knocking in Pipes

  • In highrise buildings, the water pipelines to individual flats or premises from the overhead tanks need to be designed as per the water pressure. If the plumbing system is not worked out or executed correctly then a knocking sound is observed when the taps on the lower floors are opened.
  • The surge of pressure in the plumbing system when valves or taps are turned on cause vibrations in pipes that make the knocking sound. The knocking also depends on the height of the water pipes apart from the pressure of the flowing water.
  • The sound can be a major irritant for users and requires intervention by MEP engineers and consultants.

4. Improper Waste Water Outflow

  • The outflow of waste water, if not done properly, results in poor hygienic conditions for the end user. A good drainage system is the result of an effective plumbing design.
  • Drainage from kitchens, balconies, terraces and bathrooms as well as sewage from toilets should be designed such that waste flows out smoothly from the premises.

5. Not Following Color Coding For Electrical Wiring

  • Wiring in construction projects is done as per set color codes in the electrical design, for example black is for neutral and red or green for the different electrical phases.

If the wiring is not done as per the prescribed design and color codes then there are chances that neutral would be connected to phase resulting in short circuits or shock situations. So it is important that color coding is followed and MEP engineers must pay attention to this aspect.

CQRA will identify problems and find solutions to deliver snag-free premises.

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