The paper reports a study of the cause of defects in light structures and the toppling of a wall constructed on a fill material rich in Ankara clay. Laboratory tests were carried out on vertical and horizontal samples from boreholes and a trial pit was excavated near the damaged structures. The results showed that in the vicinity of the toppled wall, swelling pressures in the horizontal direction were greater than those measured in the vertical direction. The swelling properties of the fill material were higher than those of original Ankara clay as determined previously by other investigators, suggesting that breakdown of the cementing bonds and a change in the fabric are the main factors affecting the swelling pressure of disturbed and compacted expansive soils. The calculations to predict uplift showed a good agreement with the observations in the damaged structures. It is concluded that swelling was the main cause of the damage to the light structures at the study site and resulted from the highly expansive nature of the fill material, poor drainage, the semi-arid climate, poor construction methods and ineffective precautions. Some recommendations for minimizing the effects of swelling at the study site are briefly outlined.