In the aftermath of recent buildings collapse in Lagos State, we write this article to intimate the general public on the need to adhere to laid down rules and regulations in property development. It is common practice that after buying a land, the next step for most people is to commence construction of building on it without obtaining relevant government approvals. Construction of buildings is more than just contracting your everyday artisans for construction. Certain established rule and principle have to be followed to ensure that the construction of such building is of good standard and safe for people living in and around it.
It is no longer news that there have been several buildings collapsing all over Nigeria in recent times: the most recent ones being the three-storey building on Massey Street, Ita-Faaji, Lagos Island on March 13 where about 20 persons lost their lives; and another three-storey building on Kakawa Street, Lagos Island on March 25, but no casualty was recorded.
It is assumed that a building that has been appropriately constructed is expected to be in use for an extensive duration of time. Collapse of buildings is not a strange occurrence in the world and like every country of the world, Nigeria is not an exception. This is however a big issue in Nigeria and one that has caused uneasiness for government officials and concerned authorities. While Building experts and professionals faults building collapses on the use of low quality building materials, employment of incompetent artisans and non-supervision of workmen on building site. The government however blames building collapse on non-compliance with the required specifications and standards.
The Nigerian Government has put in place the National Building Code of Nigeria which was promulgated in 2006. This law contains specific rules and regulations required to maintain a sense of safety of buildings to prevent disastrous occurrences. It is a set of rules that specify the minimum standards for constructed objects such as buildings and non-building structures. The foremost drive of the building code is to protect safety and general welfare as well as to protect public health. Building codes are generally intended to be applied by architects, engineers, constructors and regulators but are also used for various purposes by safety inspectors, environmental scientists, real estate developers, subcontractors, manufacturers of building products and materials, insurance companies, facility managers, tenants, and others.
In addition, accordingly, the need to evolve a National Building Code arose from the following existing conditions of our cities and environment which are: The absence of planning of our towns and cities; Incessant collapse of buildings, fire infernos, built environment abuse and other disasters; Lack of referenced design standards for professionals; Use of non-professionals and quacks; Use of untested products and materials; and Lack of maintenance culture.
In view of the above, the National Council on Housing and Urban Development deemed it necessary and initiated the process of evolving a National Building Code to put a stop to the unpleasant developments in the Building Industry.
The aim of the Code is to set minimum standards on Building Pre-design, designs, construction and post-construction stages with a view to ensuring quality, safety and proficiency in the building Industry. It is to ensure that players and referees in the building construction industry abide by certain accepted standards of moral conduct and good behaviour.
The causes of building failure and collapse according to research and study is shown to be improper design, incompetent contractor, faulty construction methodology, poor Town Planning approval, poor development monitoring process, non-compliance with the national building code by developers and contractors, use of substandard materials and equipment, economic pressures, change of use of buildings, aged buildings and poor maintenance.
All buildings in the Nigerian Building code have been classified. According to section 4(2), “Every building or structure whether existing or hereafter erected shall be as classified in this Code according to its use or character of its occupancy into one of the Use Groups listed below:
- Use group A — Assembly
- Use group B — Business and Professional
- Use group C — Education
- Use group D — Factory and Industries
- Use group E — High Hazard
- Use group F — Institutional
- Use group G — Mercantile
- Group H — Residential
- Use group I — Storag
- Use group J — Mixed Use and Occupancy
- Use group K — Doubtful Use Classification
- Use group L — Utility and Miscellaneous
Furthermore, Section 6 of the National Building Code provides the environmental and general building requirements. According to the Code, the code shall govern the means of light, ventilation and sound transmission control required in all buildings intended for human occupancy. Every building and structure hereafter erected and every building, room or space which use has been changed shall be constructed, arranged and equipped to conform to the requirements of this Section. Where more than one building is hereafter placed on a plot, or where a building is placed on the same plot with existing buildings, for the purpose of this Chapter, the uncovered plot area should constitute adequate sources of light and ventilation for all buildings intended for human occupancy.
Plans for all buildings and structures other than buildings of Use Group H-2, H3, and F1 which are designed for human occupancy and for which means of artificial lighting and ventilation are required, the application shall include sufficient details and description of the mechanical system to be installed as herein required or as specified in the mechanical code listed in the Schedule.
A building shall not hereafter be altered or rearranged so as to reduce either the size of a room, or the fresh air supply, or the amount of available natural light to less than that required for buildings hereafter erected; or to create an additional room unless made to conform to the requirements of The Code Enforcement Division/Section/Unit shall permit new rooms to be of the same height as existing rooms in the same storey unless in the Code Enforcement Division/Section/Unit’s opinion greater provision of artificial light and ventilation is deemed necessary to insure healthful living conditions.
A building shall not be hereafter enlarged, nor shall the plot on which it is located be diminished, so as to decrease the required courts or yards to less than that prescribed in this Part for the lighting and ventilation of new buildings.
Section 6 of the Code also provides a general limit to a building. It states that the Code shall control the height and area of all buildings hereafter erected, and extensions to existing buildings hereafter altered or enlarged as a function of the type of construction, use group, exterior exposure and accessibility of buildings and structures for firefighting purposes.
It further stated that a part of any building hereafter erected and additions to an existing building shall not project beyond the plot line or beyond the building line when such line is established by the zoning law or any other statute controlling building construction. Furthermore, any permit granted or permission expressed or implied in the provisions of this code to construct a building so as to project beyond the street plot line or building line shall be revocable by the jurisdiction at will.
It is important to know that this code is to be followed and adhered to for the construction of a proper building in the eyes of the law. Don’t just construct a building, follow the laid down principle by the law.
For further assistance, explanation, or consultation on this subject matter or any other land/property related issues, do not hesitate to contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or Call 08034869295. You can also email me on whatever question you have on land/property law and anything relating to it.