Failure Mechanisms in Building Construction
The author of this book has combined his experience investigating the causes of building failures with extensive research, in order to present detailed descriptions of the causes and identifying characteristics of a wide range of failure mechanisms.
Failure Mechanisms in Building Construction also includes an index of these various mechanisms, along with numerous case studies taken and expanded from his ongoing magazine column on "Failures," and an annotated bibliography. A section on performing failure investigations puts the material into a practical context.
The book begins with a short chapter which overviews the process of conducting forensic investigations, and it contains many kernels of wisdom, so it's worth periodically re-reading.
The bulk of the book is comprised of 34 case studies, each of which consists of one page of narrative plus a page of commentary. Most of the failures covered by these case studies involve non-catastrophic failures of building exteriors, and the most common cause of these failures is water damage, which can in turn lead to a spectrum of failure mechanisms.
Other somewhat common causes of failures include stresses due to gravity loads and thermal effects, as well as material deficiences and incompatibilities (thus highlighting the risk of trying new materials). With respect to root human causes, some failures are caused by structural design errors but, far more often, the culprit is poor detailing (often related to lack of coordination among disciplines) and/or construction error.
This book is extremely instructional -- as well as a good read.