Friends, Romans, Countrymen! Lend me your ears


Building Defects have been around longer than Shakespeare or the Romans.

It was actually Hammurabi who was the sixth king of Babylon (modern day Iraq) from 1728 BC – 1686 BC who established the set of laws called Hammurabi’s Code, one of the first written codes of law in recorded history. These laws were inscribed on stone tablets standing over eight feet tall (2.4 meters). Two of my favourites from the Code are set out below:

229.     If a builder builds a house for a man and does not make its construction firm, and the house which he has built collapses and causes the death of the owner of the house, that builder shall be put to death.

230.     If it causes the death of a son of the owner of the house, they shall put to death a son of that builder.

Following in Hammurabi’s footsteps, the Roman Emperor Nero used the devastation of the great fire of Rome in 64AD to change much of Rome and institute new building codes throughout the city.

After the Great London Fire of 1666AD, the English Parliament laboured for 2 years over the writing of the “London Building Act”. However, in the two years after the fire, much of London was rebuilt using the same poor practices.

So the question is, if man has not been able to get building codes right in the last 4,000 years, is  it likely he is going to get them right today?

One thought on “Friends, Romans, Countrymen! Lend me your ears

  1. Yes, agree.
    I think a large part of our current problems (being built-in, as it happens) arise from the rush towards speed of construction and innovative techniques like “rapid walling” systems and the like. Innovation = risk, but that does not seem to get through to the planning-construction team, nor are the possible consequences explained (nor would they be understood, perhaps) to the consumer.

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