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Identification of what needs to be inspected, when and how It is not possible to inspect economically all parts of a building or civil engineering structure. The rear face of a basement wall against which backfill has been placed or the condition of the embedded length of concrete or steel piles are examples of items which are extremely expensive to inspect. They have therefore to be detailed appropriately. Any structure should be classified into areas or items which cannot be inspected regularly, those which may be inspected regularly, and those which definitely need to be inspected frequently. This classification should be carried out at the design concept stage: it is the responsibility of the design team.
There are probably relatively few cases where a client and designer embark on a project with an explicit statement of working life, and in the absence of reliable data on the service life and maintenance costs of various forms of construction, a client may take the easy option of accepting contemporary norms of quality, which may imply no more than the minimum to comply with statutes and national standards.
When considering the life to be expected from a structure before any major repairs are needed, it is important to remember that most structures are likely to require some maintenance during their service lives. This is especially true where structures are exposed to the demanding conditions of the natural environment as well as having to cope with often onerous ‘manmade’ loading. A structure could in particular circumstances be designed with a very limited life in view and with no provision for maintenance, but such structures are the exception rather than the rule.