buildings lifespan

How Long Will Your Building Be Standing? Revealing The Real Lifespan Of Ukrainian Buildings

Every day we wake up and see how quickly new buildings are going up, like weeds popping up through cracks in the sidewalk. While these new buildings continue to change Kyiv’s skyline, historical buildings in the very heart of Kyiv remain standing and will be for years to come.

So what is the useful life of the different types of buildings?

The main thing that determines the lifespan of any building, besides the supporting structures like foundation, walls, and floors, is the material from which they are made. The most reliable are buildings where the supporting structures are stacked more than 2.5 bricks thick. These structures are categorized as “capital” and can stand for over 100 years. Monolithic buildings, whose lifespan is measured in centuries, not years, can be considered to belong to the group of solidly capital structures.

monolithic house
Filling monolithic house process
monolithic apartment building
Monolithic apartment block

The second place in durability belongs to modern large-block and brick buildings built less than 2.5 bricks thick and lasting 125 years.

large-block buildings
Large-block buildings
brick house, stalinka
Brick house ( on the picture - Stalinist building)

Next, come block buildings and large-panel homes with a service life of 100 years, and buildings constructed from slag concrete and similar slabs can last 90 years. Khrushchevkas, built with thin-walled panels, are designed for 40-50 years of service. The latter was erected from 1957 to 1985, and according to experts, under regular operation, Khrushchevkas can stand for another 15-20 years. However, there is a project in the Kyiv city administration to destroy these buildings and replace them with new ones.

Nevertheless, according to experts, old brick buildings, especially those built in the period from 1860 to 1917, are better in quality than modern ones. They will stand for a long time, and after reconstruction, they can even last as long as the modern ones. Modern brick buildings, except elite ones, are built from hollow bricks. Their main disadvantage is that hollow blocks have low bearing capacity because the total mass of wall decoration materials reduces, so the load-bearing power is also reduced.

It is necessary to understand a crucial thing today that mass housing, built in the 1950s-1980s, requires precisely the same rates of capital repairs and exactly the same costs for this repair provided in the Soviet Union. Over the past 5-7 years, Ukraine has already entered a period of rapidly growing depreciation of the housing stock, which may lead to the disappearance of the entire bedroom communities in the next ten years. If no actions are taken, which is likely, the buildings will start to fail as fast as they were once erected.

Necessary to understand and remember that:

  1. Panel buildings were designed in an era of cheap heating, electricity, and water. Hence, the low thermal performance of the outer walls leads to, as people say, the cold building and significant losses in the heat and water supply networks. So the general situation is that today apartment blocks are costly in operation, especially if it is an apartment with 3-bedrooms more.
  2. Reinforced concrete buildings are sensitive to meeting the deadlines of major repairs and quickly wear out if the deadlines are delayed. It is pointless to reconstruct such buildings, as it is even more expensive than building a new one.
  3. The condition of engineering networks of the city housing and communal services are such that the degree of their wear by 2003 had already crossed the line of reversibility and accounts for about 25% of fully amortized networks. In other words, it requires a complete and urgent replacement. 

You can find more data on building materials life expectancy by the link.

Therefore, complex repairs with the replacement of utilities in buildings of all types are supposed to be carried out every 10-30 years. Overlapping and non-capital walls are recommended to be replaced after 50 years. Aware of this while making the renovation. Depending on the apartment condition, Vestor.Estate team can change floor beams, and in most cases replaces electricity networks and pipes.

renovation process in old house
Floor dismantling process
Constructive features of old residential buildings

Residential buildings of old construction with high-strength walls and foundations with a standard service life of more than 150 years have large-span wooden floors on wooden or steel beams, predisposed to excess deviations. You can read more about Kyiv’s historical buildings in detail in our article. 

The span between the walls reaches 12-13 meters and the thickness of the walls in such houses reaches 0.8-1 meter, making them keep warm in winter and cool in summer.

wall thickness in tsarist building
Wall thickness in historical buildings

In most buildings, the unloading factor for floor beams is solid wooden partitions made of 60 – 80 mm thick boards, reinforced in the slots of the upper and lower horizontal beams. The peculiarity of these buildings’ reconstruction is the increased reliability of the main structural elements and the “comfort” of the renovated buildings.

As you can see, after all, most types of residential buildings are reliable through the years, and as they stood, so are continuing to stand. Indeed, they would stay at minimum the same amount of time, but all of them require regular maintenance and repairs. Fortunately, the Kyiv City Administration has begun to be concerned about the appearance of the historic part of Ukraine’s capital, so they are gradually reconstructing and renovating building facades, sidewalks, and roads, which you can see on streets like Zolotovoritska, Ivana Franka, Yaroslaviv Val, and other streets. 

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