Causes of Foundation Failures
Construction failures are the undesirable differences between observed and expected
performance. Therefore, construction failures occur to properties or infrastructures at the time of
construction. Similarly, construction failures include the assets that have collapsed after the
construction of a building, especially before the end of its design life (Chen 160). In most
instances, soil types at the construction sites are responsible for foundation problems; hence,
engineers must understand the various soil formations or soil types to address such complexities.
Research indicates that shrink-wells or expansive soils are widely associated with various
foundation problems across the world. Depending on the moisture content in the ground,
expansive soils always experience vicissitudes in the volume of more than 30 percent (Chen
174). Furthermore, foundation soils with shrink-well or expansive characteristics will heave and
cause the lifting of structures or buildings during times of high moisture. Equally, when the soil
moisture deteriorates, expansive soils may lead to structural settlement. Whichever way, the
damage caused by expansive soils is always extensive (Chen 167). Furthermore, expansive soils
can exert pressure on a foundation’s vertical face, thereby causing lateral movements. According
to Chen, shrink-well soils can expand because of high moisture in the ground, which cause the
soil to lose its capacity or strength. When the soil loses its strength, it can cause different forms
of slope failures as well as foundation problems (Chen 189). Subsequently, the moisture content
of foundation soils must be stabilized to avert any foundation disasters such as the collapse of the
Highland Towers in Malaysia.
The Collapse of the Highland Towers in Malaysia
The Highland Towers collapsed on December 11, 1993, in Selangor, Taman Hill view, Malaysia
(Gutenberg par. 1). Specifically, only the first block of the buildings collapsed, leading to the
death of more than 48 people. Due to the accident, individuals residing in the other two blocks of
the building were evacuated to ensure their safety. Research suggests that the building collapsed
as a result of elevated water content in its surrounding soils (Gutenberg par. 2). The soil became
viscous and eventually became muddy because of the saturated water. In addition to the muddy
soils, a landslide of approximately 100 square meters smashed into the building’s foundation
(Gutenberg par. 3). Subsequently, the water exerted constant pressure on the building’s
foundations and weakened it.
The collapse twelve stories building
Cause of the Collapse
The towers were widely built near a creek that flowed across the construction site. Later, the
creek was diverted using different pipes to bypass the location where the towers were situated.
Another project started in 1991 on the hill near the towers and it led to the clearing of all land-
covering plants and trees, thereby exposing the soil to erosion (Gutenberg par. 8). Moreover, the
contractors built retaining walls to hold the soil, but the soil was too exposed and saturated.
When it rained heavily, the soil could not hold the foundation; therefore, the twelve stories
collapsed (Gutenberg par. 11).
Building collapse as a consequence of poor foundation has resulted in numerous deaths across
the world. However, engineers can minimize foundation failures by learning from past mistakes
to enable them build stronger buildings. Additionally, engineers need to conduct soil tests to
establish the particular soil types that can withstand earthquakes and landslides as well as the
ones that cannot. Additionally, the number of floors in a building should be determined based on
the soil type.
In sum, foundation failures are common in various regions across the globe. Some of the factors
that cause foundation failures include poor maintenance, bomb explosion, and failure to adhere
to construction guidelines. However, foundations should be solid to withstand the day-to-day
forces of nature. In most instances, expansive soils must always be analyzed whenever there are
substantial foundational movements. Besides, it is significant for engineers to realize that
variations in the moisture contents in foundation soils can lead to structural challenges.
Chen, Fan. Foundations on Expansive Soils. Amsterdam: Elsevier Scientific Pub. Co, 1975.
Gutenberg. Highland Towers Collapse. Web. Sept 1, 2015.