Structural engineers have said extreme weather systems have put stress on old buildings in Northern Ireland following a building collapse in North Belfast
An entire gable wall of a Chinese takeaway collapsed and fell at the junction between Limestone and Antrim Road on Thursday, causing widespread delays and traffic jams.
The road remained closed until Friday until emergency services cleared the rubble. No one was injured in the incident.
According to a structural expert, homeowners should regularly inspect their properties to prevent future incidents like this.
John Hutchinson, is the current chairman of the Northern Ireland regional group of the Institution of Structural Engineers and said that typically old buildings built over 100 years ago are not built to the same standards as new ones buildings and in accordance with the regulations in force.
“Gradual wear and tear over the years will mean that the masonry will weaken,” he said.
“However, weather conditions can also pose a number of problems for these types of buildings, particularly ‘wind loading’ where in a storm you get these high winds that put extreme pressure on these walls.
“It could happen in particularly tall buildings that are not related to the rest of the building.”
Mr Hutchinson added that the increase in extreme weather systems and storms in recent years has unknowingly contributed to the decay of buildings, old and new.
“Foundation colonies are another reason why walls crumble and buildings can start to sink, due to soil conditioning in some soils,” he said.
“Heavy rain can soften the clay and contribute to it.
“These old buildings are under increasing strain and a telltale sign is always the cracks first; the walls rarely collapse without cracks appearing first.
The expert said anyone worried about the condition of the walls in their building or home should seek advice from a structural engineer or architect as soon as possible.
“You shouldn’t just seal the cracks without having them checked out first, as you may need to have it professionally reinforced,” he explained.
“Some buildings may, on the other hand, be built 100 years ago and will be suitable for another future 100, there are pros and cons to both, but it’s always best to have them checked before the worse happens; one stitch in time saves nine as they say.