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  • Writer's pictureArvind Dang

Designing of Building Structure: Activities that can adversely impact business

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

Designing of building structure for any building includes designing columns, foundations, stilt floors, beams, slabs, retaining walls, levels, column schedules, staircases, terraces, Sewage Treatment Plants, harvesting pits, façade areas of any type of building

Characteristics of a Robust building structure are:

  • Withstand earthquake vibrations and prevent displacement, deformation,

  • Free from cracks

  • Construction to be in plumb (i.e., perfectly vertical columns & other vertical structures & walls, perfectly horizontal beams & floors)

  • Not buckle due to loads

  • Perfectly aligned parts

  • Corrosion-free

  • Aesthetically appealing

Inputs that contribute to making a good structure design include the following:

1 Proposing the right choice of strong materials in terms of specifications while optimizing costs:

2 Incorporating, in structure-related design & drawings, good practices for construction or & installation of the following as per applicable Quality standards:


i)Sub-structure

· Excavating

· Dewatering

· Earthmoving

· Preparing PCC

· Preparing RMC

· Bending & preparing TMT bars

· Constructing & laying the standard foundation

· Laying the piled foundation

· Waterproofing,

· Concreting & masonry work in foundations

ii) Superstructure

· Scaffolding

· Shuttering

· Constructing frameworks for all columns, beams, etc

· Constructing upper floor

· Constructing roof structure

· Constructing stairs/ramps

· Constructing external walls

· Constructing external windows &external doors

· Internal walls & partitions

· Internal doors

· And so on

iii)Providing inputs to the building architects, Interior designers, and MEP-package designers for integration of all designs across the project

3 Essential technical steps/activities to facilitate building quality in the designing process for structure include:

· Drawing grids

· Defining materials

· Defining section properties

· Drawing objects in the structural engineering models

· Developing plans and elevations

· Defining & Selecting loads

· Soil-Structurer Interaction

· Structural Dynamics

· Earthquake analysis

· Wind and seismic loads as per National standards

· Value engineering

And so on

Software like ETAB can facilitate carrying out such activities accurately & efficiently

Validation of design

Validation of developed design by carrying out structural analysis by an independent proof consultant is desirable, and the scope usually includes:

· Linear Static and Dynamic Analysis of RCC Structures, Design and Detailing of RCC Beams, Columns, Slabs, and Foundations, Composite deck and Parametric Modelling, Modal Frequency of a Structure, Wind Loads on RCC structure, FEM Analysis, and Design

and so on

Software like STADD or a similar one can be considered for carrying out structural analysis and developing an error-free, comprehensive design




Seven stages for developing the design of the Structure

Design activities vary considerably from company to company but generally, there are 7 stages to designing the structure for buildings as below. Whatever designing processes and software are used, designing must result in developing Robust designs by accomplishing the following:

· Build designs that are comprehensive, accurate

· Contributes to building quality in construction by incorporating national and international quality standards in BOQ/material specifications and construction processes

· Integrates statutory and safety requirements in the designs and drawings

· Optimise project costs

· Enables efficient delivery of designs & drawings

· Incorporates maker-checker step in each design stage through the implementation of segregation of duties concept

Details can be found in my book available at Amazon as per following links.

Amazon link for Indian readers

Amazon link for International readers

The 7 stages are:

1. Developing Concept Design

2. Vetting of design

3. Developing GFC and specifications

4. Tender development

5. Obtaining a Structural stability certificate

6. Making Cost estimates for the entire structure

7. Issuing “As-built drawings”

These are not being narrated in detail as design activities can vary from organisation to organisation. Therefore, only activities that can adversely impact business are captured here.


In the activities listed below , those marked ‘*’ reflect those which can have adverse statutory implications.


Stage 1 activities that can adversely impact business

· Not obtaining and not incorporating inputs (like Purpose of building, Features of structure, Structural safety requirements vis-à-vis zone in which building is to be constructed, Overall dimensions and FAR, overall building Plan and elevation, etc.)

from other interfacing functions like selling, architects, and construction into the Structure design

· Not assigning competent designers*

· Using unlicensed software while developing a concept design for Structure *

· Making compromises while vetting structure design, by skipping or compromising on structure designs and drawings aspects such as below.

· Tolerance on specifications of materials and workmanship

· Statutory code-related requirements for Structure *

· National and international standards for quality

· Raw Material (TMT bars, Cement, or RMC) sizes and specifications,

the lower factor of safety*

· Proposing low-cost/low-strength raw materials

· Bribing mandatory Agencies that approve the structure design calculations relevant for issuing structural stability certificates*

Stage 2 activities that can adversely impact business

· Colluding the principal architect and proof consultant to accept the consultancy design work with incorrect design calculations (e.g., TMT bars sizes and Grades like Fe415, Fe 550, RMC (M20, M30, M40, etc, Cement-OPC 43, OPC 53, PPC, etc ) in return for some favours.

· Assigning the same designer to validate the design, who initially developed it thus not implementing the segregation of duties concept*


Stage 3 activities that can adversely impact business

· Making GFC drawings that are not aligned to design calculations

· Architect Insisting on specific brands of TMT bars and Cement or RMC in collaboration with vendors of brands and getting financial favours. *

· Compromising specifications for developing samples in collaboration with vendor/contractor.

· Releasing of design and drawings and issuing these to structure contractor at a site without any control

· Not shredding or deleting waste designs/drawings and misuse of this


Stage 4 activities that can adversely impact business

· Making tenders that are not comprehensive vis-à-vis technical specifications or are deliberately stated vaguely for subsequent manipulations amongst the architect and contractor with ulterior motives.

· In the tender, the Structural Engineer/architect includes names and brands of specific materials only for pre-identified /preferred vendors of the Structural Engineer/Architect in return for commission/kickback from such vendors. *

· Architect recommending only a single source for many BOQ materials and thus leaving very few options with the project materials team to negotiate prices aggressively in return for commission /kickback to an architect from such vendors. *

· Inspection requirements concerning inputs such as TMT bars, cement, and RMC are not comprehensive

· Tender drawings not incorporating applicable quality standards for all works and applicable Statutory requirements, particularly w.r.t safety. *


Stage 5 activities that can adversely impact business

· Bribing the certifying officials to get a Structural Stability Certificate in due course. *


Stage 6 activities that can adversely impact business

· Computing costs based on thumb rules rather than the first principal basis vis a vis costs of TMT bars, Cost of Cement, Cost of RMC, and other structural elements relevant as also costs of shuttering, cost of scaffolding, costs of joinery, etc. and cost of labour/fabrication for each part of the structure, floor wise, and each building.


Stage 7 activities that can adversely impact business

· Preparing “As-built drawings” shown as aligned to Structure Stability certificate, but actual physical construction of the built-up structure is in deviation to the “as-built drawings” regarding TMT Bar sizes, RMC, safety factor and construction materials used, etc.





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