Latent building defects: Causes and design strategies to prevent them

Wai Kiong Chong, Sui Pheng Low

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


Building designers' decisions affect long term quality and life cycle cost of buildings. Designers' decisions are usually latent in nature and hard to detect at the early stage of construction. This research looks at failure mechanisms that caused design-related latent defects and the design parameters that could prevent these defects. A 9-month building survey on 74 buildings found that the three most important design-related failure causes were weather impact, impacts from occupants, and loads and moisture from the wet areas. Insufficient considerations for these failures causes were found to be the key in preventing these defects. The design strategies that could successfully prevent triggering these defects include aligning material performance against adverse weather conditions, preventing impacts from occupants and loads, preventing water leakage, improving specifications and improving design clarity, details, and layout. There are huge amount of standards and codes available internationally, however, each is designed specifically to overcome regional problems. This research confirms the need for designers to (1) consolidate regional standards and codes; (2) develop in-house database using existing standards and codes, and lesson-learned from defects gathered by property managers; and (3) to apply this knowledge to eliminate latent defects from future design. This research also confirms that such knowledge can be developed using existing records of property managers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-221
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Performance of Constructed Facilities
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Building design
  • Defects
  • Failures
  • Life cycles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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