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Collapse caution: flawed blocks possibly used in brand new buildings

COMMENT PRINT ARTICLE
PHOTO: Erik Prozes

Several buildings under construction or just completed are under suspicion of being dangerous – Technical Regulatory Authority is checking out claims that substandard building blocks have been used in load bearing structures.

During routine quality control by main contractor Nordecon, a large amount of defective blocks were discovered in construction of Järveküla School in Rae Parish, Harju County and an apartment house at Pikksilma St, Kadriorg, Tallinn.

At the moment, Nordecon is doing the calculations to find out whether the walls already erected need to be demolished due to defective products by Rae Kivitehas, or whether added reinforcements – such as filling the hollow blocks with concrete – will do.

Last week, another complaint was filed to the Authority by construction company Rand ja Tuulberg, regarding blocks by the same plant.

«The agency will perform a thorough inspection, especially with view that the blocks are for use in load bearing structures and thus directly linked with safety of the buildings,» said Ahto Tuuling of the Technical Regulatory Authority’s building department.

Separately, they are looking into whether use of said stones would render the entire buildings unusable.

The results are due in three weeks.

By Nordecon, the faulty batch of blocks was sent for testing to the laboratory of Teede Tehnokeskus, a company providing engineering technical consultation services.

Of six blocks from both school and apartment building, only three of each corresponded to the strength cited in documents.

Also: while the variation coefficient may not exceed 25 percent, the batches inspected read 37.4 percent and 35 percent.

«The drastic decline in quality of construction materials is bigger than seen in the given instance,» said Nordecon CEO Jaano Vink. «By the public procurement system only preferring cheaper prices, quality of materials is being constantly suppressed and construction material producers go along with the trend.»

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COMMENTS

Meelis Einstein, CEO of Association of Construction Material Producers of Estonia

Definitely, at times something goes wrong for construction material producers. At that, the trend of declining quality is definitely not about materials produced in Estonia but firstly the imported products. With proper compliance requirements missing, products from places like Poland may come with nice stories attached which are untrue. Here in Estonia, we are keeping all EU requirements but when imported products do not comply, we have nowhere to complain.

Via Latvia, we have cement coming in produced in Russia which does not correspond to our norms. As in Russia the production is cheaper, it is quietly breaking in.

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Indrek Peterson, CEO of Estonian Association of Construction Entrepreneurs

Thus far we have not had a thorough discussion about decline in building materials quality but we have indeed talked about certain companies playing with quality.

For instance, they might buy a load of goods that comply for an object requiring the certificate, but the rest will be brought from any old producer and will be used while waving the papers secured by the quality batch.

According to papers, the building comes with quality guaranteed. In reality, it only lasts till warranty expires.

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