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Dubai's Top Building Defects

Date Posted: 06/09/2012

Dubai is a city that has been rapidly developed. It's skyline is impressive and has record breaking buildings including the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa being the most famous. Dubai is a relatively new city in terms of high rise construction and has used many of the leading international building codes for the production of their building stock. It is however the implementation of these codes and the regulation of them that has lead to many buildings in Dubai falling short of international standards and has lead to major defects occurring. While many of the buildings in Dubai are a marvel of modern day engineering many of them are also suffering from serious defects often unbeknown to the owners and occupants of them.

During Realpoint's early years of monitoring construction on behalf of RERA and more recently through the carrying out of Building Completion and Handover Audits for individual buildings Realpoint have found major defects in many of Dubai's building stock. The reasons for these defects being present differ for each building but the major reasons being poor workmanship, poor quality materials, poor onsite management and finally poor maintenance of the building after completion.

The most common defects apparent in Dubai's buildings are as follows:

Fire Stopping:

This is a common issue in many of the buildings that Realpoint have audited. Fire stopping is found to be missing around service penetrations through fire rated walls and enclosures.
This is a serious Health & Safety issue as the risk of fire spread through the building is greatly increased. Fire stopping should be installed round all service penetrations to restrict the spread of fire.


Due to the hot climate that Dubai experiences throughout the year it is vital for all buildings to have cooling. Primarily cooling for a building is facilitate through the provision of Air Conditioning, a component of the system is chilled water pipe work and it is this pipe work that experiences a build up condensation on the insulation. The cause of the condensation is a result of poor quality insulation, poor specification of the insulation's thickness and/or high humidity levels experienced within the building. The resulting condensation build up causes damp staining to the building fabric such as ceilings and walls, it also can affect nearby service installations such as wiring and fire alarms. The dampness can also lead to the build up of mould growth, which is a serious Health hazard to those occupying the building.

Fire Alarms:

The wiring installations for the smoke detection and fire alarm systems should be installed with the greatest of care and attention with the strictest adherence to the relevant standards and regulations.
However, the typical issues that are found time and again are incomplete wiring installations, loose bare wiring, un-terminated wiring, incorrectly joined wires using tape, wiring and conduits unsupported in the ceiling void and incorrect use of containment and materials.

Emergency Exit Signage:

The emergency exit signage is vital in any building to guide the occupants to safety in the event of an emergency such as a fire.

Emergency exit signage however is not properly designed, installed or maintained. This leads to signage not being illuminated, signage pointing in the wrong direction or to locked doors and signage in some cases missing altogether. Emergency exit signage form part of the life safety systems of the building and as such should be adequately designed, properly installed and maintained.

Fire Fighting Systems:

In many of the buildings in Dubai the primary system for fire fighting is the sprinkler system, with portable fire fighting equipment supplied in many common areas. The system however in many cases is poorly installed and maintained.

Issues include the system being turned off due to false alarms, parts of the system not being operational, loose connections, faulty equipment, power disconnected, fuel tanks empty and spare parts and operations & maintenance manuals missing.

Access Provision:

In many buildings in Dubai little or no thought is given to access provision. Buildings are often poorly designed with no safe access available and access being restricted in many areas such as the roof and plant spaces. Issues include access ladders with no enclosure, uneven work platforms, restricted space to access equipment, access equipment not operational, safety harnesses not installed, edge protection missing, warning signage not provided and detailed method statements not available.

Wiring Installations:

Low voltage wiring installations within the buildings of Dubai are very often poorly carried out. Wiring installations for systems such as lighting, alarms, meters, signage and air conditioning should be installed according to the manufacturers recommendations and the prevailing statutory regulations in Dubai.
However wiring installations are often found to be poorly installed with loose, unconnected and unsupported wiring in the ceiling voids; wiring connection carried out using tape; wiring not installed within containment; wiring trapped between other service installations; wires not labeled and wires poorly terminated.

Generally speaking the building quality in Dubai is poor compared to international markets such as the Europe and America, however with some work most buildings can be brought up to a good international standard. The first step to this is in carrying out a Building Completion and Handover Audit on the building. Owners Associations or Developers wanting to understand the issues present in their buildings and seeking to resolve those issues are advised to appoint a competent 3rd party approved by RERA to carry out an Audit.

Realpoint is one such company; Realpoint has developed with RERA the requirements for completing a Technical Building Audit, which include a Building Inspection, Quality Review and Building Documentation Review. The purpose of the audit is to facilitate the handover of the building from the Developer to the Owners Association, identifying any major defects or missing information and allocation of responsibility for the rectification of those defects or replacing the missing information. Upon completion of the Audit, rectification is carried out and assuming these have been done to the satisfaction of the consultant final sign off will be issued. The final sign off will indicate that the building is ready for handover and the Owners Association can assume full responsibility for managing the common areas of the building subject to meeting other RERA requirements.

Realpoint is experienced in carrying out inspections of this type, with many currently undergoing the rectification process and others already successfully completed the handover from the Developer to the Owners Association.

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