You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.
Present a written argument to an educated reader with no specialist knowledge of the following topic:
Safety standards are important when building people’s homes. Who should be responsible for enforcing strict building codes – the government or the people who build the homes?
Use your own knowledge and experience and support your arguments with examples and relevant evidence.
You should write at least 250 words.
Model Answer 1:
(Viewpoint: People and owners should be responsible for enforcing strict building codes)
The population of the world is increasing and so does the needs for more houses, commercial buildings and other constructions are escalating as well. The high rising buildings constructions, wood-house constructions etc. require more safety & standard issues while this is being violated often and accidents related to building constructions are increasing. Some people opine that Government is solely responsible to ensuring the safety and codes while others believe that house owners are the persons who should be responsible. In my opinion, a government has a role in setting the rules and following it but it the owners and authority of the building owners who should ensure the standard and safety while constructing the houses and commercial buildings.
First of all, it is out of the scope for the government to appoint necessary manpower and monitoring system in every place where the construction works would occur. Before building any house, people must take the permission from the authority and build the house accordingly. But any accident occurs due to the lack of safety procedure; improper use of tools and materials, unskilled labour, unnecessary rush would be because of the owner’s failure to comply the codes.
The workers, who work for contractions; including the architect, engineer and labour, should know the safety rules and codes and also should protest when they believe that a rule might have been violated and ignored. The labours should never assent to work in a position which is harmful and risky for them, the engineers should maintain the strict rules instead of blindly following the construction owners order and the local authority should time to time monitor the constructions to avoid the hazards.
In conclusion, the Government does not have the necessary scope to monitor each & every construction in a country and the house owners must know the safety procedures, standards and rules to make sure the safety.
Model Answer 2:
(Viewpoint: Government should be responsible for enforcing strict building codes)
People or commercial constructors build homes for private dwelling or for commercial uses and the number is increasing rapidly as the demand for new buildings is increasing. In all cases of building a new construction safety of dwelling is important. It is home maker’s or contractors responsibility to build houses complying with standard engineering requirements and building codes set by the respective governments. I believe that the government should always be there to strictly enforce building codes, and in the case of non-compliance authorities should take punitive measures. Enforcement of the law is government’s responsibility. Since non-compliance can not only cause hazards to the homeowners, but also to tenants and if in a cooperative or apartment, many co-owners may suffer.
The building codes are regulatory requirements concerning safety and quality of the construction, use of space and others. For example, in an earthquake-prone area, the buildings should not be very high and the design and structure must have higher earthquake resistance. Big houses and long buildings (i.e. academic departments, hotels and hostels) require dilatation every 15-20 meters so that in a heavy earthquake, only part of a building collapses, not the whole. Moreover, the quality of the materials used in construction and electric wiring, and the gas connection should pass minimum safety standards. Adequate entry & exit facilities and emergency exist, fire extinguishers are also very important is establishments like factories, hall rooms, discos, party centres.
In cases of a wooden house, wood must be coated with fire-resistant paint. In large apartments, office buildings, hall rooms and lobbies of hotels, fire-barriers made of rubber and steel are used to prevent the spreading of fire. Similarly, in areas of frequent hailstorms, skylights must not be used, and if so, must be protected by steel shutters.
Many constructors often tend to ignore the minimum safety requirements to minimise costs which jeopardise people’s life. Many private homemakers do not know details of these standards and precautions. It is the responsibility of the government to disseminate such essential knowledge and monitor the compliance of builders, developers and makers of houses. However, the builders cannot avoid their responsibility anyway.
In conclusion, in this modern world, the government is ultimately responsible for its entire citizen’s safety and good life. It is also the government’s responsibility to enforce strict building code. If the negligence of any government agency jeopardises people’s life, the government will be held responsible.
(Approximately 390 words)
(This model answer has been prepared by the site developer. However, please note that this is just one example out of many possible answers.)
Model Answer 3:
(Viewpoint: Both Government & People should be careful and responsible)
People aspire to build their homes to suit their tastes as well as that of their family. While several houses are constructed on a regular basis, there have been questions on the safety standards adopted in such constructions, thus endangering not only the lives of homeowners but also of those in the neighbourhood and the society at large. While some people opine that the responsibility of ensuring a quality construction lies with the owners, there are others who believe that the onus lies with the government. This essay will discuss both points of view.
To begin, houses that are being constructed by those in the lower income groups do look at the most cost effective option. In the process, they invariably explore cheaper options that include a compromise on material and construction quality. This ultimately leads to a house construction that is inferior and might not comply with even the basic safety standards. For example, there are several instances where even a moderate amount of rainfall has led to the houses getting washed away. There are also cases where minor tremors have led to the collapse of the entire building. Further, compromising on the quality of electrical wiring can lead to short circuit and hence a fire, that can affect not just the house owner, but can lead to severe loss of lives and property in the entire neighbourhood.
In my opinion, the solution to the problem lies with having a regulatory body to monitor the quality of building constructions. The regulatory body should be under the Government. The safety standards and the minimum specification of materials that can be used in any house constructions need to be clearly defined. This should include essential parameters such as foundation strength, structure strength, electrical wiring specification, water resistant material etc.
Further, at various stages of construction, the owner needs to approach the authority for approval. Upon such requests, the authority needs to carry random audits before approval. This would not only put a system in place but also serves as a deterrent to house owners who intend to compromise on construction quality.
In conclusion, while the quality of house constructions at present pose a grave danger to the society, there is certainly an opportunity in this challenge, to put forth a system that would be robust and go a long way in ensuring that building constructions of the future adhere to the specified standards and are completely safe to both the owners as well as the society at large.
(Approximately 418 words)
Model Answer 4:
(Viewpoint: Both Government & People should be careful and responsible)
Home is essential for every living organism. Human build their own houses with highly innovative and much more expensively. Home is to protect us from bad weather, for relaxation, for privacy and to fulfil their personal needs.
Nowadays, people are building their own homes with or without consulting proper technicians and responsible bodies. Maintaining safety standards while building homes is an issue for which both government and people should be responsible about. For an example: a person could buy a piece of land in Sri Lanka and whether this land is suitable to construct a house should be certified by the relevant authority such as National Building Research Organization. Their experiment only knows whether there is a stream going underneath of the ground, and the steepness is enough to build a house or soil properties are better to build big houses. This consultation should be given by the Government bodies, at the same time people need to seek relevant government organisation prior to constructing their own buildings. These all need to be done at the time of planning and not at the time of constructing.
Enforcing people to obey the rules of the building construction is to be announced by the government. But, when the people do not follow these rules, they should be punished by the government. But under the same government bodies, there are some government officials who escape the rules for bribes. This should be strictly and immediately stopped.
Even though government brought strict codes to construct homes, people who build, need to follow these rules. This is the responsibility of the people and not the government. Only a few people consult government organisation for selecting the land, planning, and constructing the homes. Others do not do this. An example of that can be cited as getting Divisional Secretariat’s approval prior to the construct of the buildings is a must and people should maintain that keeping their own safety in mind. There is a limitation for constructing a house from the edge of the water stream or railway road and that’s something both parties should maintain. If that person consults relevant government body only they will inform about the conditions. Without consulting many have constructed near the water stream in plantation sector of Nuwara Eliya District. But they all flooded in the year 2013 due to the heavy rain. Many have replaced their houses and even locations after that.
Therefore, safety measures should be given by the government and at the same time, this should be followed by the people who build their own homes, due to their own safety.
(Approximately 425 words)
Model Answer 5:
Having a roof to cover yourself is one of the basic human needs and being safe and secure is the feeling that drives the urge to get a home. So people who are getting a home built are concerned about the safety though they might not be aware of all the standards which keep a check on this aspect of building homes. Now the question arises, is it the people or the government who has the sole responsibility ensuring the standards being followed. As far as my point of view goes, it’s the responsibility of all the persons by any means related to this activity; be it the authorities approving plans, the builder or the owner itself. Everyone should act as a checkpoint and should perform his duty with due diligence.
The government has a very critical role to play here. The whole setup was defined by the government and they have the responsibility to incorporate the best possible standards for safety. For this, they can take inspiration from the western countries that put a high stake on quality being promised and delivered when it comes to safety standards for building safe homes. And these rules needs need to consistent across PAN India and there should be scope for customization depending upon the region. For instance in areas such Bhopal which are prone to earthquakes more than any other region in India, you can have specific rules defined to ensure stronger base to resist against any such calamity. And not only its development but spreading awareness and stringent checks needed to be employed to ensure the standards being followed.
Apart from the government, the onus also lies onto the builder to whom a trust being placed by the owner of the house to deliver what was promised. Generally, the person who wants to have his home built wants the same to be the safest and rather keen to spend extra bucks to ensure the safety of his house. But it is quite obvious that he might not be having the technical nitty-gritty of the trade. So he entrusts the builder to do the job for him and it is the builders’ utmost priority to ensure this trust won’t be breached.
To summarise, primarily it’s the responsibility of the government authorities to ensure stricter building codes, but every other person involved in this should be held guilty had the standards not confirmed with. And it is always advisable to the owner as well to keep himself updated with all the requirement of safety standards and to keep a check on the builder because is “better to be safe than sorry.
(Approximately 438 words)
(by – Bhupender Bhakuni)