Why Your Building Won’t Last for 30 Years?

There is always much more to a building than meets the eye. A wide gamut of factors determines the lifespan of a property. It might be interesting to know that buildings are also just like any electronic device or your mobile phone. The way every part of your mobile phone (battery, display, visual display, RAM, etc.) has a different lifespan, the same concept applies to the buildings too. Strong structures and design lay the strong foundation of a building. All the key “organs” of the building like – kitchens, appliances, floor covering, bathroom, and paintwork usually last between 10-15 years. Windows, roofs, and pipes can last for a maximum of 30 years.

The structure of the building is a key factor in determining the lifespan of the building. Many people think that with the advent of technologies, the life of the building has been improved. However, that’s not true. Modern skyscrapers are made of materials such as insulation products that have far lesser expectancy than stone & wood. Furthermore, constructing a building also involves the usage of lots of adhesives & chemical compounds being used, and still, there is a dilemma on their expectancy.  

An Integral Role of Maintenance: 

Timely maintenance and upgrades act as a booster in increasing the life expectancy of the building. Several building experts suggest that the building owner must invest 1% of the building’s value each on its renovation. The ideal way to make the best use of these funds is to hire a professional property management firm that ensures buildings remain updated and its cost of operations remains minimal by introducing leading property technologies or PropTech.

To know more about the best practices of  maintaining and operating a skyscraper or a building, go through our informative whitepaper – “The Economics of Operating a Skyscraper

Factors Impacting the Life-span of the Building:

Here are the top factors that impact the life-span of the building –

  1. Lack of Effective Management:

Poor or ineffective management is a serious threat to the triumph of the project, the reputation of the developer, and above all the safety of the employees & the residents. It also has a profound impact on the life span of the building, revenues of the developer as well as on its market perception to attract more business.  

As they say, ‘better safe than sorry, it is crucial to eliminate ineffective construction management practices which increase the risk to the building, irrespective of the amount of money & time invested in making it happen. Some of the biggest threats that have adverse impacts on the life span of a building include – usage of low-cost material during the construction to save money which often leads to hefty lawsuits, poor supervision of activities, delays in completing the tasks or not meeting the deadlines, not hiring an experienced contractor and consultant during the construction, etc.

  1. Lack of Comprehensive Risk Assessment:

The risk assessment engineers work under very rigid timelines. This often impacts their capacity to evaluate and analyze the risks which are typical of a specific project and those which are unique to the situation. Lack of comprehensive risk management can create construction defects that have an adverse impact on the quality and life of the building.

  1. Homogeneity:

Homogeneity of either structural or load-bearing elements is the most crucial feature of the building, which deals with the capability of the building to survive against load without failure.  The load-carrying capacity of the building components is reduced due to a series of factors such as – wear & tear, environment, and aging. These factors can drastically impact both the homogeneity and the integrity of the building components and reduce its life span. 

  1. Flaws in Design:

The impeccable structural and architectural design is the foundation of the sound building performance. Defects in the design of a building not only reduce its lifespan but also can lead to its high operational & maintenance cost. Lack of effective design decisions often results in a decline in the quality of the construction. Several developers across the world have been found guilty of violating codal provisions to curtail the cost and ensure economical design. However, these practices might save 10-20% of the cost in the beginning but in the long run; they are an invitation to faulty designs which often result in expensive repairs and a damaging impact on the life of the building. Some of the most common errors made in the building’s design include – drawing with a printing mistake, incorrect line, not marking the dimensions in the drawing, frequent revisions made to the design.

To know more about how Property Managers can assist real estate developers in overcoming the challenges that arise during the design and construction phase, visit our informative article Why are developers not consulting Property Managers during design and construction?” by our Director – Mr. George Malakos 

  1. Using Substandard Construction Materials to Cut Cost:

At times, developers authorize the usage of substandard construction materials to minimize the cost of the construction. Substandard construction material here refers to those which lack in size, weight, density, or any other physical property. The usage of substandard construction materials minimizes the load-bearing capacity which has a detrimental impact on the strength of the building as well as on its life span.

  1. Environmental Factors:

Environmental factors such as – heat can have a serious impact on the lifespan of a building. In Dubai, where temperatures reach up to 45-49 degrees celsius, it is a key factor that impacts the building. Higher temperatures also increase the risk of building collapse which can put the lives of the residents and everyone at risk. 

The risk of heat is much higher for those buildings that do not meet the building code’s safety requirements and will take a serious toll on their lifespan.

  1. Lack of Timely Maintenance & Repair:

Corrosion of concrete or structural components hampers the stability of the building and reduces its strength and lifespan. The lack of timely maintenance and repairs results in water leakages, cracks, loose plaster, spalling of concrete, etc. Repair and renovation work conducted on a timely basis can significantly minimize the risk of corrosion of metal items or carbonation of concrete. 

  1. Excavation:

In the last decade, there has been an exponential surge in excavation activities. At times, excavation for the foundation in a property adjoining your building can result in its movement of the foundation due to sliding of the soil below the foundation of adjoining property which results in the sink of the footing of the existing building. This weakens the foundation of the building and also minimizes its life span.

  1. Gaps in Construction Process:

The placement of heavy building machinery, materials, and other additional loads during the time of the construction process weakens its base. Buildings are usually designed for pre-designed loads prominently due to construction materials, furniture & loads that may arise due to earthquakes or any other natural disaster, and also due to loads of the occupants. Furthermore, to make a building a profitable deal, several developers build additional stories without properly assessing the strength and the capacity of the existing building. Any sort of horizontal & vertical expansion is not properly evaluated in the original design and leads to overloading which negatively impacts the life span of a building.

  1. Mistakes in Structural Configuration:

At times, developers or design architects make a list of changes in the structural configurations such as – basic horizontal or vertical load path which often results in the deviation of load path from shortest load path. This drastic change in the load path mostly increases the stress in the component and weakens the building. 

Furthermore, during the time of natural disasters like earthquakes, these forces produced at various floor levels are not transferred to the ground by the shortest load path due to the unsymmetrical configuration of the building which often leads to a lack of stability of the building with a drastic impact on its life span. A large number of developers are using expansion joints to overcome unsymmetrical configuration to offer more stability and life to the building.

  1.   If You Consider Hiring ‘Property Management’ Firm as Cost:

Hiring a property management firm can act as the oxygen to the lifespan of your building. Property management firms can play a key role in performing timely repair and maintenance of the building which acts as a panacea in boosting its life span. A property management firm also provides their unparalleled expertise during the design and the construction phase of the building to build robust designs that increase the life span of the building. Property management firms perform a comprehensive risk assessment to eliminate all possible risks that can deter the building’s performance. They also guide developers on the type of construction material to be used for better stability and longer life of the building. To know more about the factors to be considered while shortlisting a property management firm, read our article – Key Factors to Consider When Choosing Property Management Firm

Founded in 2006, KAIZEN Asset Management Services is amongst the top tech-enabled property management firms in Dubai. Being the first ISO 9001:2015 certified provider, KAIZEN AMS offers end-to-end solutions in Property Management, Owners Association Management, Community Management, Lease Management, Handover Services, and Investment Advisory. KAIZEN AMS has an asset management portfolio valued at over AED 15 billion across 12,000+ units and is also a proud corporate member of the U.S. Green Building Council. 


Here is the recap of the top reasons your building won’t last for 30 years are as follows:

  • Poor or ineffective management of the building
  • Lack of Comprehensive Risk Assessment
  • The decline in the load-carrying capacity of the building components due to wear & tear environment, and aging
  • Defects in the design of a building leading to its high OPEX & maintenance cost, and lower life span
  • Usage of substandard construction materials
  • Environmental factors such as – heat
  • Negligence shown while performing timely Maintenance & Repair of the building
  • Excavation in a property adjoining your building
  • Flaws in the Construction Process like the placement of heavy building machinery, materials, and other additional loads during the time of the construction process weakens its base
  • Mistakes committed in Structural Configuration and above all
  • Not hiring the right property management firm

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