Study Of Causes Of Foundation Failures

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Project and Seminar Material for Building Technology BT

Project and Seminar Material for Building Technology BT


This project report is dedicated to my department, building technology – federal polytechnic Nekede Owerri.


My unreserved gratitude goes to my supervisor BLDR EBIRIM A. L for assisting me in producing their project report through corrections and prompt attentions to problems relating to the report writing.

I am also grateful to the Head of Department BLDR UKA for his care over this great department.

I also clearly recognize the special contributions of Miss Nancy Amarachi, Igwe that funded part of the project production.

Finally, I am grateful to Almighty God for the love of my parents Mr and Mrs JAMES NWACHUKWU.


The research focuses on the causes and possible solution to common foundation failures to building in Nigeria. The occurrence of foundation failures and collapse of building has become a major issue of concern in the development on this nation as the magnitudes of this incident are becoming very alarming.

This paper therefore examines the incident of foundation failure and collapse in swampy/expansive areas in Nigeria. By focusing on some states from each of the five geopolitical region of the country as case study.

The paper examined the contributory role of the informal sector to this decadence. The study indicated that the failure and collapse of foundation in building stem principally from hasty construction, low quality workmanship, poor supervision, inexperience (use of incompetent hands), ignorance non-compliance with building regulations.

Questionnaires were administered to few selected, architects, town planners, civil engineers and clients within reach also filed trips made to Lagos to ascertain common failures. Secondary data were obtained from the websites of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB). The research outcome revealed that all parties in the building industry, clients, architects, design engineers, local authority (town planners) and contractors are contributing immensely to foundation building failure in various dimensions.

This study has revealed that more than 70% of the reported cases of foundation collapse and failure in Nigeria stemmed from the informal sector. It further showed that 70-0%, 23-3% and 6.7% of the reported cases occurred in private, public and corporate organization respectively. Common failures with proper assurance of competent professionals and strict enforcement of ethical standards by the Nigeria society of engineers, the NIOB and the NIA would reduce the problems identified to the minimum.

Table Of Contents

  • Title page
  • Approval page
  • Certification
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abstract
  • Table of contents

Chapter One

  • 1.0 Introduction
  • 1.1 Background of study
  • 1.2 Statement of the problems
  • 1.3 Purpose of the study
  • 1.4 Justifications
  • 1.5 Research questions
  • 1.6 Scope and delimitation
  • 1.7 Limitations

Chapter Two

  • 2.0 Literature Review
  • 2.1 Causes of foundation failures
  • 2.2 Design of foundations
  • 2.3 Field exploration
  • 2.4 Laboratory
  • 2.5 Recognition of problem areas
  • 2.6 Minimization of foundation movement
  • 2.7 Remedial procedures

Chapter Three

  • 3.0 Methodology research
  • 3.1 Research plan
  • 3.2 Method of data collection

Chapter Four

  • 4.0 Data Presentation, analysis and discussion
  • 4.1 Discussion of findings
  • Questionnaires

Chapter Five

  • 5.0 Conclusion and Recommendation-
  • 5.1 Summary of findings
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • 5.3 Recommendations
  • References
  • Appendixes

Chapter One

1.1 Background Of Study

Failure is an unaccepted difference between expected and observed performance. A failure can be considered as occurring in a component when that component can no longer be relied upon to fulfill its principal functions. Limited deflection and settlement in a foundation which caused a certain amount of cracking and distortion of partitions could reasonably be considered as a deflect but not failure, where an excessive settlement and deflection resulting in serious damage to partitions, ceiling and flour finishes could be caused as a failure (Roddies, 1993).

Frequently, consultants in the office, when they visit sites, see the mistakes being made time and time again. Many of these are indicators of lack of knowledge on the part of the people undertaking the construction.

The type of foundation failure commonly encountered in soft ground and in construction field as a whole can be classified into the following categories;

  1. Inadequate protection resulted in weakening of foundation soil leading in instability and failure of the foundation. Two (2) earth slopes on Aghaji crescent, GRA, Enugu failed during a prolonged rainfall period in August 10th 2009 and affected the safety of two (2) residential building situated on top of failed slopes. According to the results of the study both slope failures are found to be attributed to the effect of soil saturation and buildup of pure water pressure in the slop, which in turn became threat to the foundation of the buildings.
  2. Failure due to incompetent bearing stratum resulted in collapse or excessive deformation of foundation soil under the imposed loads. An example is seen in the reported cases of collapsed building in Victoria Island Lagos in July 18, 1985 when a residential building claimed the life of 13 people all of the same family.
  3. Failure due to improper sequence and method of construction. This was encountered in a mult-storey building under construction located at Mokola, Ibadan Oyo state in October 1974. one was founded on footing foundation embedded at deep depth in ground consisting of residual soil and the other one was supported by RC driven pile embedded in soft ground close to a river. The piles and pile caps were constructed by the pilling contractor but without the construction of ground beams. Serious offset of column stump positions were founded in both projects after the completion of soil back filling surround the footing and pile caps. Pit exploration was carried out at the disturbed foundation locations found that shear failure of ground/ beams/ stumps of footing bending failure of RC piles occurred at the offset stump locations. The results of investigation showed that the caused of failures were likely due to improper backfilling and surcharge effects of heavy machine resulting in additional stress and soil movement in vicinity of the footings.
  4. Design consideration and preventive measures. It is noted that many foundation failures could be avoided if the design does not take into consideration of the most critical condition and adequate protection to ensure integrity of design in long term.
  5. The foundation shall be designed to withstand the most critical combination of load which the foundation may be subjected to during its services, period. Addition forces included by down drag effects, of subsiding ground on piles, rising of groundwater tables (swampy grounds) on retaining well and effect of wetting band on slope stability shall also be considered.
  6. The characteristics of foundation soil including its mode of failure shall be well delineated for ensuring the most representative approach of analysis and valid assumption in the design be analyzed and checked for both drained and undrained cases to determine its safe bearing capacity. When compressible materials exist within influence zone of foundation, settlement of the foundation should also be assessed to ensure that no excessive settlement will be induced under the design foundation pressure.
  7. Suitable types of filed and laboratory test shall be assigned based on the soil types, exiting and failure stress conditions to determine the representative soil parameters.
  8. Fore design of foundation located on slopes the effect of ground profile on the bearing capacity of foundation should be properly analyzed to determine the possible reduction of soil bearing capacity. Earth slopes supporting foundations of structures should be adequately designed in terms of effective stresses taken into consideration of the most critical peizometric profile which may be included by the critical rain storm, flood and the worst loading condition during service period. Adequate surface and sub soil drains shall be provided to prevent surface erosion and soil disturbance due to infiltration of rainfall.

1.2 Statement Of The Problems

Many foundations failures are known to be attributed to inadequate protection of foundation soil, lack of consideration in the engineering characteristics of soils under different stress and loading conditions, improper construction sequence and inadequacy of design against possible worst condition in long terms. This failures are caused by the types of soil the foundation are found. Some other effects on foundation which leads to failure and continuous movement and cracking includes.

A. Improper Ground Preparation:

In most cases, site preparation includes properly removing inadequate soil from the site, usually the top several inches. This allows the house to be built on original undistributed ground. However, Sometimes the site requires fill dirt to be placed to level the building foundation. If this material is not properly compacted, it can settle. This settlement causes foundation failures and interior home cracks.

B. Evaporation:

Due to the fluctions in day to day weather conditions, the soil can experience expansion and contraction especially in swampy ground due to changes in moisture levels. As the moisture evaporates from the soil, it contracts and the foundation settles. When the moisture is returned through rainfall and percolation, the soil swells again. This type of foundation problem is cyclic, meaning the building will experience settlement then upliftment depending on the current soil conditions.

C. Water Table Level:

Unlike evaporation charges in the water table happen less quickly under normal circumstances. Typically due to seasonal changes or more gradual short term climate shifts in the area, swampy and riverline areas. These foundation issues are more difficult to diagnose due to their slow progressive.

D. Transformation:

Tree, large plants, or large amounts of vegetation require large amount of water. Through not frequent in swampy areas. But if planted too closely to foundation, water will be removed from the soil and cause foundation settlement. Root of trees can also be a problem in foundation of building around or close to them. Root can break drains leading to more water and saturation of the surrounding soil and possible soil heave or weakening the soil.

E. Improper Drainage And Plumbing Leaks:

Drainage is a key concern of most properties water shed should be accomplished in most cases through adequate grade near the building. Another common issue is gutter down sputs draining near the foundation.
This adds excessive amount of water near the foundation that will cause foundation movements among other problems. Leaking pipes depending on the severity of the leak and if left untreated causes more progress to foundation failures.

F. Inadequate Foundation Construction:

Foundation construction techniques vary widely depending on the age, location and type of building.
This introduces problem that require the analysis of a licensed professional to determine the adequacy of the foundation. Investigation should be made to determine the size and material of the foundation.
Typical problems of poor foundation construction are

  1. Incorrect mixing of concrete
  2. Use of contaminated aggregates or old cement
  3. Inadequate cleaning trenches before concrete is poured
  4. Concreting in freezing weather
  5. Avoiding excess water to help the concrete flow round the trench

G. Poor Soil Conditions:

Soil condition vary based on general location of the building. However, the soil conditions can drastically differ from one property to the next. Underlying issues within the soil can also play a role in overall stability of the soil. Sometimes hidden layers of inadequate soil is located below support layers of acceptable materials.

H. Differential Movement:

Similar problems of cracking can occur if houses foundations of uneven depth and an example of this is housed with partial basement.
There is a danger that the shallow foundation may settle at a greater rate that the seep foundation and this differential movement will cause cracking. Similarly when extending houses, it is wise to ensure that the foundations to the new extension are at the same depth as the original property to prevent future problems of differential settlement. The porch extension added to several original constructions in building leads to quick failure especially one with quite shallow foundations.

1. Chemical Attack:

Some soils, particularly clays containing a high proportion of sulfate can attack the foundation concrete. In wet condition the sulfates combine with a by-product of the cement to produce a material called tricalcium sulfoaluminate. The crystals of this compound expands as they form and gradually cause pieces of concrete to break away. It can be prevented by the use of sulfate resisting cement and by protecting the external faces of the concrete with a bituminous compound.

J. Building On Existing Sites:

If old foundations are not removed they can cause problems of differential settlement. This should of course be spotted at the site investigation stage. Some existing sites may be contaminated by toxic substances the ground can be “capped off” with an inert layer such as clean earth or stone to isolate these substances if it is impractical to excavate and remove the contaminated ground.

K. Signs Of Foundation Failure

Misaligned doors and windows cracks in the sheetrock sloping of the floor cracks in the floor or title cracks on walls cracking of the foundation etc.

1.3 Purpose Of The Study

While it is certain that buildings are prone to deterioration and many not be possible to generally aver failure, it is also expedient that the rate of collapse and the associated loss shield be greatly reduced. Based on the results obtained by Folagbade (2001), 75% of the reported foundation collapse in building as of 1980 in 1999 were private buildings, then activities of the informal sector need to be investigated.

This project report therefore takes agential look at the incessant causes of foundation building failure and collapse especially swampy grounds by identifying the likely causes and also investigate the activities of the informal sector in this context. The main objectives are to identify the likely causes of building collapses and foundation failure of Nigeria.

The Oxford Advances Learner’s Dictionary defined informal sector as a released and friendly sector, not following strict rules of how to behave or do. In the same vein Uwakweh (2000) describes the informed sector as “that segment of firms or industrial that engage in construction or other activities without obtaining the necessary design, planning and construction documents”. This project report aim to see how this informal sectors help and in other hand attribute to this failure.

I bet you, the complete material is fully loaded. This is just an excerpt. The Material is in MS-Word Format which you can easily edit and is comprehensive for a complete research work for this topic

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How to nail it on the head during your project defence

You are through with writing that project. Now what?

You have found yourself at that point where you have to defend what you have written. Of course you have to stand in front of your supervisor and other literary personalities to prove that you know what you wrote in your project paper. Unfortunately, the more you think about it, the more it looks like you are about to face a legion. It is not a war. But the emotion of dread welling up inside of you makes it look like one. So now you are asking yourself questions.

  • How am I going to start?
  • I hope I will do well enough to get an A.

You really want to nail it, but you need to come to terms with exactly how to get everything in perfect control. Especially your emotions of fear that seem to make a wreck of you every time you think about public speaking.
So here is the deal. I want to help you avoid that feeling that would ruin your precious moment if you dare to let it. And we are going to do it together.

I am going to highlight some very important tips to help you get in control for you to be comfortable enough to move from that feeling of DREAD to CONFIDENT; and making an awesome Impression for that great rating your supervisors should be giving to you so freely.

Consider these tips as you prepare for your defence. We will be taking them one after the other so here we go.

Watch Your Body Language And Keep It Confident:

Can you tell that a person is falling apart if they look confident? … If I can second guess you rightly, am sure you answered no to that question. Remind yourself that you need to come out that way. Now this might seem like a huge big deal when you are dealing with the foreboding. Maintaining a poise of confidence is very important. So find your most comfortable position, sitting or standing and draw up your body. You must exude confidence. It is something you need to do for yourself. People can only see what you allow your body language to show. So you must endeavour to put that out. Remember the story of David and Goliath? … At the end of your defence day, you want to be David.

Dress In Your Most Comfortable And Impressive:

Am sure this one is a no brainer. However I must highlight that you choose comfortable pieces. You don’t want to look so good and yet look like you were forced to wear something that does not belong to you. It’s great to ensure that as impressive as your clothes are on you, that they are also very comfortable.

Speak With Authority:

Going hand to hand with that aura of confidence is your most powerful asset:your words. If you look that confident, your words must not come out like whimpers. To be able to pull this off, you definitely need to speak as deliberately as possible in expressing yourself. Let them also hear what they see.

Use, Your Gestures:

I have often found this to come to my rescue in dealing with shyness and conveying my confidence. Usually it gives you an edge to also drive home your point. You must, however, ensure that you do not over use it. It doesn’t mean that your hands should be flying all over the place. That would be absolutely unnecessary. If you do this well, after a while you will realize that you are not as self-conscious as you used to be at the very start. For most situations, it would have completely disappeared altogether; leaving a really confident you talking.

Have A Good Opening And Closing Line:

Make sure you have perfected a good opening line. You should also be armed with a good closing line too. Try and rehearse it to a friend. If for the first time you presented it, your friend does not say “wow, that’s beautiful” or something like that; just know you need to keep refining it until you get the perfect line. Both opening and closing lines will go a long way in how impressed your panel gets to rate you high.

Make Sure You Know Your Work:

Certainly you should understand how important it is to know your own work from start to finish. Not having in-depth knowledge of your own work is tantamount to a suicide mission. Why should you kill yourself?
When all is said and done, this is what you came to defend in the first place. You should know your work from A to Z.

Prepare For The Questions:

Now this part is truly essential. You must be sure you do not floor all the good work you did on your presentation by not answering correctly. You must pay attention to the questions you are asked to be sure you will give the right answer. Many people get it wrong at this stage and spoil their good presentation. When you do not understand any question do endeavour to ask the person to expatiate what they mean before you answer.

These tips are by no means exhaustive, but applying these tips will give you some necessary advantage you need for a great outcome. Of course that outcome would mean that you eventually earn all your points on this project.

The structure of a good project work

Undergraduate projects in Nigeria is a prerequisite for graduation amongst Nigerian tertiary students who will which to obtain bachelors degree in their respective courses of study such as accounting, banking and finance, business administration and a host of others. Writing an undergraduate project in Nigeria for final year students entails a lot both financially and otherwise. Being able to develop any final year project depends on getting a researchable topic whether it is Accounting Undergraduate project topics, Banking and Finance research topics or banking and finance project topics and materials and it all requires diligent hard work of students who are willing to develop best undergraduate projects in Nigeria and graduate in flying colors.

A typical Undergraduate project in Nigerian tertiary institutions can be said to be divided into five or six chapters depending on the format of the school and course of study which are

1. Introduction

The introduction of an undergraduate project states the main research problem and research argument. What precisely the study is all about and why it is important. It looks at the originality of the research work and how it will fill the gap in other studies. Justification for a research undergraduate topic should not be lengthy before it has been explicitly stated.

Below are the contents in chapter one of an undergraduate research project which includes;

  • Background of the study,
  • Statement of the problem,
  • Objectives or aims of the study,
  • The research questions,
  • Research hypothesis,
  • Significance of the study,
  • Scope of the study,
  • Limitations of the study and
  • Operational definition of terms.

2. Literature review

Literature review of any undergraduate research work, be it business administration project topics or Economics project topics just to mention a few is very critical to securing a high grade in one’s project work. The literature review of a research process uncovers what other writers have written about the student’s topic. A student’s undergraduate research work should include a discussion or review of what is known about the subject and how that knowledge was acquired. The review could conclude with a brief summary of the literature and its implications. The contents of the literature review are the theoretical review, conceptual framework, empirical review and summary of literature review.

3. Research Methodology

This section includes a description of the research methods used in the undergraduate research work such as the sample size, data collection methods, measurement instruments, research data analysis procedures and the population from which the sample was selected.  This section also describes the method used in selecting the sample or samples, validation and reliability of the instruments used in the research work. There are different research statistical techniques used in undergraduate research work such as SPSS, e-views etc.

4. Results & Discussion

This section presents and discusses the data analysis results used in an undergraduate research work, the results of each analysis is being summarized, tabulated, and then discussed for each research question.  Then for each research hypothesis, the statistical test of significance selected and applied to the data is briefly described, followed by a statement indicating whether the hypothesis was supported or not supported.  In presenting the result analyses/summary in an undergraduate project tables and figures and or graph are used to add clarity to the presentation.

5. Summary, Conclusions And Recommendations

This section summarizes the findings of the study in an easy to understand manner.  It also explains the practical implications of those findings, and points to recommended directions for future research in that area.


This is where every source cited in the undergraduate research work is being included. Every undergraduate research work must be properly referenced for its authenticity.



Samuel Obiora Blessed is the CEO and founder of Samphina Academy ( a.k.a Nigeria Students Media, the youngest engineering graduate of Federal Polytechnic Nekede in 2017 and the engine brain behind this great platform. He is the man behind the scene, filled with many potentials, a musician as well as a pro developer with the interest of Nigerian students at heart.

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