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Monday, April 2, 2012


The wall on the left side of this photo has a mini concrete pillar up the middle of it. This is what is called a "stiffener". This wall is tall (4.2m) and quite wide (4.5m). A stiffener was required to stabilise the wall. Of course, a whole wall of bricks is unlikely to collapse during the year of post-construction warranty. It might not collapse for even 5 years or so. Nonetheless, it is not a strong wall without the stiffener. BCA building requirements stipulate mandatory stiffeners for every wall that is larger than a certain size.

Do check with BCA what these regulations are.

Next, it is up to the owner to double confirm that these stiffeners are in before the wall is plastered over and painted. Once the plaster is on, there is no way you can tell whether the stiffener is there. Contractors are not perfect. They can forget. Architects are on site once a week only. They might miss this too. BCA, of course, has other things to do than to come every day to make sure that every wall in your house that needs a stiffener has it.... they'll come when the house is done. By that time, you can't see the stiffeners anymore because of plaster, paint and tiles.

I developed the habit of photographing my house twice a day. Once in the morning and once in late afternoon. In the case of this wall, I used my photos to insist that the wall had no stiffener but plastering work had already started. This explains the light grey column down the middle of the wall. You can actually see my stiffener after plastering was done, when actually one should normally see an even tone of plaster. My contractor had somehow forgotten to put in the stiffener before plastering the wall. Even then, contractors, like every other expert can disagree with BCA experts. Some might even insist that BCA is kiasu and these stiffeners are unnecessary.

As far as I am concerned, if BCA stipulates them, then I want them... kiasu or not.

In general, I was very UN-ambitious about my cosmetic furnishings. I didn't use marble. I didn't have expensive wood finishings, parquet, stainless steel, glass... But I was very particular about strength of walls and pillars. I wanted to know that the steel bars were as thick as specified. That every stiffener that needed to be there, was there. The unseen insides of the house needed to be strong.


Malar said...

I didn't know about stiffeners at all! You have given a lot of information on house construction before.
You're such an informative person!

Anonymous said...

excellent Petunia...sounds like an very good rule to make sure the home is built well and is very sound!