Group seeks correct use of storey building

WRONG description of structure of buildings in Nigeria by a wide spectrum of people is becoming a source of concern among the construction industry professionals, hence, the need to educate and enlighten the public has become imperative, Building Collapse Preventive Guilds in Nigeria has said.

  The non-governmental organisation, BCPG, said the step became needful following controversy that trails the description of collapse of a guesthouse within the precincts of Synagogue Church of All Nations last year.

  It was observed that the misrepresentation has again brought to the fore the age-long issue around the use of the terminology “storey” in Nigeria. 

 The building that collapsed has been severally referred to as a 6-storey building. However, the photograph of the building before its collapse, as revealed at the Coroner’s Inquest, showed a 7-storey building. This misnomer has serious implications on the post mortem structural analysis of the loading exerted on the foundation of the building. 

 Speaking on the issue last week, National President, Building Collapse Preventive Guilds in Nigeria, Mr. Kunle Awobodu, argued that there is a significant difference in the sizes of the isolated and combined pad foundations expected to carry a 6-storey building and those of 7-storey building and with varying degree of soil bearing capacity.

   According to Awobodu, the need to correct the constant wrong use of ‘storey’ in Nigeria becomes imperative. “The meaning of storey is the same all over the world. Storey is defined as the floor or level in a building, including rooms on that floor. In that case, a storey extends from the floor to the ceiling or suspended slab. It is used for horizontal division of buildings. 

“Hence, a bungalow which is a house that has only ground floor is a storey building. An upstairs house that has a ground floor and one upper floor is a two-storey building”.

  He noted that the etymology of storey traces the early use of the word to the period from 1175 to 1225 in Europe when artistic display of events on stained glass windows and walls of different floors were used to promote history. Hence, storey originated from the Latin word, historia, which reflected in the Anglo-French word estorie.

   “There is no ambiguity in the global use of storey. Ambiguity only exists in the counting or numbering of floors in different parts of the world. There are two major floor numbering methods in the world: The English or European method that counts ground floor as zero and the American method that prefers to label the ground floor as the first level. In that case, first floor in European method means second floor (level) in American method. Most countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa adopt either of these two methods of floor numbering”.

 However, the difference in the two systems is unified in the use of storey. A building with ground, first and second floors in European system is a three-storey building. The building numbered first, second and third floors in the American system also remains a three-storey building. A subterranean room, a cellar or basement is a storey below the ground floor in European method or a storey below the first floor in the American method.

   From the foregoing, it is important to overcome this Nigerian error, the distortion of storey that has long been confusing even the Nigerian construction practitioners, said Awobodu, who noted that dictionaries and building control regulations have a consensus on this. 

 He concluded that the use of storey would serve as a more concise and appropriate word to distinguish different heights of buildings for effective communication of building height specifications. 

Meanwhile, the election held during the annual general meeting (AGM) of BCPG, Lagos chapter, at the Secretariat of Nigerian Institution of Surveyors (NIS), Alausa, Ikeja last week, produced new officials.

They are   Messrs Wunmi Agbaje, Chairman, Kayode Ogunji, Vice Chairman, (Mrs.) Catherine George, Ex-Officio (Immediate Past Chairperson of BCPG Lagos State Chapter) and Yemi Ashaolu-Fowowe, General Secretary.

Others are Mrs. Adekemi Okusaga (QS), Treasurer Mr. Rotimi Ikugbayigbe, Publicity Secretary, Lucky Isename, Financial Secretary and Mr. Adesina Adeleke, Welfare Officer.

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