Researchers within the built environment disciplines have increasingly drawn on a plurality of social methods in order to enrich their research. Three decades down the line the place of philosophy in the choice of appropriate research methods is yet to be appreciated by some built environment researchers. Consequently, a lack of adventure in interpretive research, wrong choice of methods and underrepresentation of the qualitative approach are reported, which suggests the existence of a knowledge gap. This study is aimed at illustrating the philosophical premise for employing social research methods to address socio-technical issues in built environment research. In achieving this, reference was made to a fire incident in a student dormitory in Nigeria as a problem upon which contrasting–subjectivist and objectivist–philosophical positions were examined. The consideration of these philosophical positions and the choices that resulted from both spectrums were seen to have their strengths and weaknesses. To offset the weaknesses in each approach while also leveraging on the strengths that each approach offers, the paper illustrated how a compromise–pragmatist–position can be reached to allow for the choice of, and mixing of multi-methods to solve research problems that could not be adequately solved using any single method.