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Contractors at fault as roofs collapse

TT/The Local · 8 Mar 2010, 16:42

Published: 08 Mar 2010 16:42 GMT+01:00

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The minister pledged the imminent introduction of amendments to Sweden's construction and planning laws following a meeting on Thursday with a range of government agencies.

Snow levels recorded this winter in no way exceeded the projections that form the basis for accepted construction norms, said Carlgren.

"It's not acceptable that the roofs have collapsed on buildings that are supposed to be able to house the general public," he said, following a winter that has seen roofs cave in on everything from vast supermarkets to a range of sports halls.

The SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, a company wholly owned by the Swedish state, assured the minister that snow was not the real villain of the piece. Instead, the extreme weather conditions have exposed major shortcomings in construction and maintenance procedures across the country.

"Constructions are hard to judge; very rigorous checks are necessary," said SP divisional manager Carl-Johan Johansson, who added that roofs tend to collapse with great alacrity once the chain of events has been set in motion.

Mats Björs, head of trader organisation the Swedish Construction Clients Forum (Byggherrarna), said he would welcome any legislative changes, though he also believed the majority of contractors took proper responsibility for checking up on their work.

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"But there are probably lots of contractors who don't even know they have this responsibility, so it could be good to turn on the pressure," he said.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:47 March 8, 2010 by Keith #5083
If it is found that a contractor has NOT fulfilled the required Ritnings specifications (prepared by a licensed Building Consultant/architect and passed by the localKommune as meeting Bygningkontrol requirements) then such a contractor should:

1. Be fined heavily

2. be open to compensation claims from the public for any injury;physical,emotional,psychological with minimum payments specified IN LAW

3. Be banned for LIFE from working in the construction industry in any form.

HARSH? You betcha!

What cost 1 innocent child's life???
18:32 March 8, 2010 by rba
Before moving to Sweden I always had the idea that buildings here had slanted roofs in order to make snow fall automatically.

Finding out this was wrong was one of the biggest surprises I've had here.
18:39 March 8, 2010 by soultraveler3
This is yet another thing I just don't understand here. Sweden is a country that has traditionally had rough, long, winters with a lot of snowfall.

Why are there so many buildings here from houses to stores to hospitals with no slant or almost no slant in the roofs? It just doesn't make sense.

I'm also surprised that Sweden seems pretty lax in their building codes, they're usually pretty good about dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's.
19:16 March 8, 2010 by billyb362
Someone is responsible for monitoring and maintenance of those roofs that caved in under the weight of all that snow.

Did it occur to them that there was so much friggin' SNOW on the roof that it could possibly collapse?! At one point, the trunk of my car was so heavy with snow that I could hardly lift it up.

Ok, time for a new common-sense law: Once the snow on your roof reaches appr. 10 inches or so you MUST shovel it OFF. Otherwise, don't blame the contractors who could not foresee your stupidity and neglect.
21:45 March 8, 2010 by comfortably_numb
What is the point of building codes if they are not enforced or breaches penalized?

The roofs should be designed to withstand a certain amount of weight, if there is a design flaw, or lack of maintenance, then the gov't should go after those responsible. This is public safety and should not be taken lightly.
22:40 March 8, 2010 by Steggles
I've been visiting Sweden for the past five years and one thing that puzzles me is the roofing!

For a country with huge snowfalls i'm very surprised with the number of flat or very little slanted type roofs!

I would've thought that at times like this current winter that the roofs would be cleared on a regular basis.....and not wait for the build up of snow!
05:48 March 9, 2010 by engagebrain
In the UK there are building inspectors, employed by local government to examine buildings and thereby enforce standards.

In Sweden a company buys the services of a private inspector who signs that the work has been completed. Given the nature of commercial life it is inevitable that private inspectors sign off dodgy work ... which goes unnoticed until the roof falls down.

Even weirder a builder can register as their own quality assessor - I certify that I have completed the work to the minimum standard.
09:13 March 9, 2010 by planethero
The UK demands tolerance of 80cm of snow, if not prison sentence. Lol at these building not coping with snow. Pathetic.
09:16 March 9, 2010 by Kronaboy
With due respect have you seen have you seen the state of modern roof construction methods in the UK, yeah they may be OK for the next 15-20 years come and talk to me after then when those bits of kindling supporting the ton of tiles on your roof starts giving way. As for those so inspectors of yours I wouldn't trust them to tie my shoe laces.
11:25 March 9, 2010 by Dazzler
4 months ago a brand new Woody in Karlstad was built right up the road from me. Tin roof on a steel A-frame construction. 2 weeks ago it had its first cave in, big enough to drive my saab kombi through. A week later in a completely different area, the roof buckled. How does that happen on a brand new building!?
13:58 March 9, 2010 by EtoileBrilliant
The Swedish "Black Labour/White Labour" doesn't work. It is nothing more than a closed shop designed to keep out non-union labour.

Our association went the "white" way and the the work was shoddy and ended up cosíng us more than SEK 5 million. Yes, we can sue the company. But what does the company do but put itself voluntary administration. Being a limited company we can't go after the owner. And guess what, he's back in business after 3 months in another company

The system stinks to high heaven!
14:52 March 9, 2010 by Kronaboy
You named it your self, an A-Frame construction, they are held together with bits aluminium and each section rely on the whole frame for its strength, you want a good sturdy roof buy your self a house that's built in the 1950 or earlier with good oak beams supporting the structure.
23:48 March 9, 2010 by wxman
In most cases, contractor construction is based on the average weather conditions likely to be encountered over, what, fifty years? This was an unusually snowy year across the entire northern hemisphere. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt until (and if) we can determine out-and-out negligence during construction. Then go after them, if necessary.
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