If one is going to build a home or a business, one needs good materials with which to construct those dwellings. However, most of the materials that are used in construction projects in Iran are far from meeting international standards (Babai, 2011). They are of a low quality, and they do not hold up in the way that they would if high quality materials had been used. Many of the designers and others who are in charge of recommending and/or purchasing materials for the construction projects are faced with conflicting feelings about what they are using. They know that the items are substandard, but they have to meet a deadline and a budget. There is no room in that budget for materials that meet international standards, because they are much more costly. It is also not possible to order other materials that are better and wait for them to arrive, because that would delay the deadline even further. When substandard materials are used, however, there are delays while materials are modified, replaced, or repaired, and that can take valuable time away from the construction (Babai, 2011). It can also be costly, driving up the budget and causing problems with financing.
Among the building material problems are the non-standard uses of concrete, the use of low quality iron, making joists in workshops that are non-standard and not designed for that type of construction, and a lack of experienced engineers to monitor what is really going on when building materials are being created and buildings are being constructed (Babai, 2011). There are thousands of problems with building materials in Iran, and those problems are too numerous to mention them all here. The problems with the materials, though, have led to poor construction and little to no earthquake resistance, making the buildings highly dangerous places in which to live and work. Engineers have tried to create buildings that withstand earthquakes, but the materials available for use and the lack of skill of many of the workers make it nearly impossible. Pipes, ceramics, tiles, and other items are used - at a high price and a large time commitment - to make buildings in Iran look beautiful, but there is no real stability to the buildings and they will likely crumble during an earthquake (Babai, 2011).
Iran is not particularly friendly with many other countries, and that actually hurts its construction industry (Afshari, et al., 2011). Much of the modern technology that is used in other countries is not shared with Iran, and has not been developed in that country, so the Iranian people do not have access to it. They must build in a more primitive way, and that results in long delays, projects going over budget, and buildings that are not stable and that would not meet codes and standards in most other parts of the world. Part of the reason for a lack of knowledge, technology, and equipment to make buildings structurally sound comes from a lack of investment companies that are interested in Iran. The international sanctions that have been placed against Iran have stopped companies from investing there. In turn, that has weakened Iran's construction industry to the point that it is struggling to get anything completed that will be safe for people to live and work in on a daily basis (Afshari, et al., 2011; Al-Momani, 2000).
With the sanctions comes not only a lack of money, but a lack of experience (Afshari, et al., 2011; Al-Momani, 2000). Iran is not able to consult with the managers of foreign construction companies as to how things should be built or what kinds of materials should be used. Because that is the case, Iran's construction industry is left without knowledge that would be very helpful to it. Being left to figure it out on their own is not necessarily working well for the Iranian people when it comes to construction. In addition, the sanctions prevent Iran from getting financial resources from institutions such as World Bank and the IMF, so they are limited in what they can borrow in order to acquire new and better technology for their construction industry. While there are financing options available to them, they are all in-country and reliant on gas and oil in order to have money to loan (Eshtehardian & Nasr Azadani, 2011). Because of this, financing of equipment and technology has come to a virtual standstill, not allowing the construction industry in Iran to advance and keeping the buildings at a level of construction not deemed safe or stable for those who live and work in them - especially in the event of an earthquake.
Regulations are a large part of the design industry (Mahdavinejad & Molaee, 2011; Pourrostam, 2011). The general design regulations that are used in the construction industry in Iran come from the regulations in major industrial countries such as Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. These regulations reflect the needs of the construction industries in those countries, and showcase what is required to build successfully and safely in the country to which the regulations belong. While they can differ slightly from country to country, there are similarities in the regulations for construction in virtually all developed countries, in order to ensure that the buildings that are created are designed for their intended purpose and safe for people to inhabit. Many of these countries are rich compared to Iranian standards, and the average per capita income is much higher than what would be seen in Iran. While the median income in Iran is near $9,000, which is still very low, the average per capita income is only around $2,000 - a startling contrast to other, more developed countries where life is far different and the income levels are much higher even for those who make minimum wage.
Regulations are very important to any construction industry, but the people of Iran are not able to meet the regulations that are seen in more developed countries (Mahdavinejad & Molaee, 2011). The money is simply not available to do so. These regulations are designed to identify the amount of material that must be used in the construction, what types of materials are required, and the cost of the building as a whole. However, the problems that are seen in the construction industry in Iran make it nearly impossible to meet regulations that are seen in other countries. As a result, the cost of building in Iran has risen but the quality of the construction has failed to improve to meet the rising costs. The buildings often look very nice and have all of the expected amenities, but this is mostly a facade. The actual construction and foundation of the building are both often very poor and not up to the standards that would be seen in any of the well-developed countries anywhere else in the world (Mahdavinejad & Molaee, 2011; Pourrostam, 2011).
How the buildings are designed also matters. All engineers use available software such as SAFE, SAP, and ETABS. That sounds like they are doing the right thing, but the software they are using is actually hacked copies. There is no copyright law in Iran, so the software that they are using to design buildings has been taken and is "jailbreak" software that will not provide them with what they really need where design is concerned. The engineers usually have little experience with the software and little experience in design as a whole, so they introduce errors into the information that they are providing to the software program (Mahdavinejad & Molaee, 2011). Experienced engineers using proper software would not make the same kinds of mistakes, but engineers who are uncertain and who are using pirated or hacked copies of software will not be able to achieve a design plan that is realistic and accurate. That will not allow for an optimal design plan for the building.
How Construction Operates
All of the tasks are divided in Iran between the government and private sectors. The government generally classifies the projects so that there is a chance at a higher level of compliance. However, the private sector has existing rules and regulations that sometimes conflict with what the government wants or what the construction company is able to do. That can lead to problems - including delays - while the issue is sorted out. It is easy to see that there are real and significant problems in the implementations of construction because of poor enforcement or building regulations (Mahdavinejad & Molaee, 2011). Workers are often unqualified, and that leads to a lot of time being wasted. The lack of required standards raises the costs and lengthens the timeline, all of which could be avoided if Iran could come up with solutions to the construction problems it is facing.
Where construction is concerned in Iran, there are two kinds of citizens - those who benefit from the construction of a building…