Defects

Defects…What does it all mean?

A defect by definition is a physical aspect of a building, including its foundations, that fail to comply with Australian Standards or specifications contained within the National Construction Code. This definition refers to an aspect of a building that fails to meet the minimum set of national provisions for the design and construction of a building across Australia. Typically, these defects are managed both pre and during construction to make certain both the design and construction achieves the required level of quality standards.

Unfortunately, with respect to defects, the end of the construction period – even if managed correctly, does not simply eliminate the risk of defects developing over the lifespan of a building. These defects are commonly referred to in the building industry as latent defects.

Latent defects are defects that emerge over time and are caused by a magnitude of variables including; weather, ground water, inadequate building materials, foundation movements, poor building maintenance, inherent design flaws and the reality that all buildings are susceptible to varying levels of deterioration over time.

Management of latent defects necessitates the ongoing maintenance and monitoring of buildings.

Any existing or emerging defect requires early detection and attention to mediate the risk of growth into significant and costly building degradation.

Commonly Encountered Building Defects

General Building Defects
Incomplete or Inadequate works

Unfortunately for unaware owners, due to either time or financial constraints, builders can remove or reduce required items from a building’s design. These items can range in significance and can include; undersized bolts, reduced concrete slab thickness, reduced or eliminated steel reinforcement in concrete, inadequate footings for retaining walls, incomplete drainage connections and inadequate flashing to roofs.

Our engineers know the warning signs and evidence that highlight the presence of these issues and will provide a risk score for each item so that our clients can clearly understand their significance in the overall health of their building. Our recommendations for the required remediation work, take the risk score into consideration, so that the associated cost of works is aligned with the item’s significance.  

Incorrect material selections

As the construction industry progresses over time, so does our understanding of material selection for buildings. Specifications for the selection of building materials are constantly evolving and improving. 

Our inspections aim to identify the shortfalls that may exist with our clients building assets with respect to building materials and provide recommendations based on current standards.

Waterproofing

Waterproofing is an integral aspect of any building and can be a costly error if not undertaken correctly. Waterproofing is a membrane or barrier that is designed to keep water confined to the areas where it can be directed into the drainage points of a building. Building movements can rupture waterproofing membranes over time and can necessitate repair.

BDA’s understanding of the properties of water movement within a building’s environment, allow us to mediate the significance these impacts can have on our client’s assets. A risk score is presented for areas where waterproofing defects are evident based on the impact water penetration would have on the building’s overall integrity.

Water ponding & insufficient falls to drains

Water ponding in areas of a building increase the opportunity of water to penetrate into unwanted areas. Increased exposure time of water ponding on a concrete slab for example, increase the risk of water penetrating into hairline cracks that in normal water transition would not pose a significant risk. 

Our engineers aim to provide logical, simple and cost-effective solutions to rectify a buildings drainage and get the water to where it needs to go.

General wear and tear

Management of general wear and tear is the most fundamental and costly oversight by building owners across all industries. Owners neglect the maintenance and general upkeep of a building for many reasons, including; lack of understanding, not wanting to commit ongoing funds, not planning ahead to have funding available, spending funds on insignificant areas of a building and insufficient understanding of the potential consequences of not having a process in place to negate the risk of their building’s long-term dilapidation.

BDA assist our clients by presenting a prioritised planning tool, in the form of our unique multidisciplinary inspection report, so that general wear and tear can be identified and managed appropriately. 

Hydraulic/Plumbing System Defects
Stormwater and Roof Plumbing Failures

A common occurrence across Australian buildings, especially in plumbing work, is the non-compliance of what had been designed for and what has been installed during construction. During construction a building’s gutters, downpipes and stormwater systems are generally one of the last items to be completed. If there are discrepancies with what has been designed and what is possible to install on site, in some cases builders will take it upon themselves to make alterations to the drainage design. These adhoc decisions are made to achieve required deadlines, without the perceived delays a hydraulic engineer’s re-design would take on the relevant aspect of the system. This can increase the risk of water penetrating into the internal area of a building where it can cause significant damage.

Buildings Defects Australia check drainage systems against best practice measures in the plumbing industry and overall compliance with the Australian Standard 3500.3 2018 Plumbing and Drainage of Stormwater. In most cases, BDA are able to provide effective solutions and modifications to a buildings hydraulics to achieve compliance, saving on expensive works that would normally be required to remove and replace entire drainage systems.

Pump Systems

Incorrectly designed or installed sewage, water and fire system pumps and general pumping equipment can result in expensive failures and high maintenance costs.

A pump’s design and configuration may at times meet Australian Standards, while still intermittently failing in operation or by not meeting a building’s operational requirements. Understanding the particular limitations on pump selection and the potential for operational issues resulting from pump arrangement, can prevent ongoing maintenance problems and can increase considerably the longevity of pumping systems for a building. 

General Pipework

Many defects occur in the selection and installation of water supply pipework.  One example is poor quality control in roll grooving of pipework, that can result in weak joints leading to future mechanical failures. Failures in pipework can be a major risk factor for a building and pose a significant risk of flood damage.  Early identification of weak pipe joints is critical, through a BDA inspection we can facilitate testing of pipework systems to eliminate catastrophic failures.

Structural Defects
Concrete Defects

Concrete if not poured correctly can deteriorate over time. Some examples of poor workmanship include:

  • Inadequate concrete cover of steel reinforcement when pouring the concrete;
  • Incorrect design or poor concrete mix selection;
  • Concrete additives that cause unwanted effects on concrete integrity;
  • Poor concrete vibrating and / or compaction during pour; &
  • Poor curing / moisture control of concrete following pour.

If any number of the above errors has occurred during construction of a building, some possible evidence will be:

  • Concrete cracking in slabs;
  • Honeycombing of concrete;
  • Concrete spalling where concrete begins to break apart and fall away in sections;
  • Exposure of reinforcement steel – which will speed up the process of concrete deterioration.

The team of experts at BDA have extensive experience in the identification, analysis and rectification of concrete structural defects. More often than not, if concrete deterioration is identified early, there are cost effective remediation techniques available that can eliminate the issue altogether or to extend the life of the concrete. We can assist with future works planning and can provide the remediation scope of works required to fix the issue and provide costing estimates to allow for financial forecasting

Undersized or degraded structural steel beams and columns

Structural steel components of a building can deteriorate over time and need to be periodically monitored and maintained to retain structural integrity. Our team are experts in the identification of the key indicators of steel deterioration and will provide advice as to what remediation works are required to preserve the steel components.

Undersized steel beams or columns are another example of items identified in BDA inspections. The steel components may have been incorrectly sized during construction or with additional works performed following construction, additional or varied structural loads can be a result that were never factored into the original design. If required, we can provide revised calculations to determine new steel component sizes, including methodology of how they are to be installed and the estimated cost of the works. This allows our clients to gain a full picture of the works required, and both the financial and operational impacts on their assets.

First signs of structural defects

Our engineers are trained to identify the early signs of latent defects prior to their emergence. There are various key indicators of structural defects that can build a picture of a building’s current structural adequacy. During a BDA inspection, we are able to perform non-destructive investigations, to identify problems before they become costly. If structural defects are identified in their early stages, simple techniques such as eliminating water penetration can remove the defect before they become a structural issue. This is crucial for BDA to minimise future maintenance costs for our clients.

Electrical Defects
Incomplete or Inadequate works

Unfortunately for unaware owners, due to either time or financial constraints, builders can remove or reduce required items from a building’s design. These items can range in significance and can include; undersized bolts, reduced concrete slab thickness, reduced or eliminated steel reinforcement in concrete, inadequate footings for retaining walls, incomplete drainage connections and inadequate flashing to roofs.

Our engineers know the warning signs and evidence that highlight the presence of these issues and will provide a risk score for each item so that our clients can clearly understand their significance in the overall health of their building. Our recommendations for the required remediation work, take the risk score into consideration, so that the associated cost of works is aligned with the item’s significance.  

Incorrect material selections

As the construction industry progresses over time, so does our understanding of material selection for buildings. Specifications for the selection of building materials are constantly evolving and improving. 

Our inspections aim to identify the shortfalls that may exist with our clients building assets with respect to building materials and provide recommendations based on current standards.

Waterproofing

Waterproofing is an integral aspect of any building and can be a costly error if not undertaken correctly. Waterproofing is a membrane or barrier that is designed to keep water confined to the areas where it can be directed into the drainage points of a building. Building movements can rupture waterproofing membranes over time and can necessitate repair.

BDA’s understanding of the properties of water movement within a building’s environment, allow us to mediate the significance these impacts can have on our client’s assets. A risk score is presented for areas where waterproofing defects are evident based on the impact water penetration would have on the building’s overall integrity.

Mechanical Defects
Stormwater and Roof Plumbing Failures

A common occurrence across Australian buildings, especially in plumbing work, is the non-compliance of what had been designed for and what has been installed during construction. During construction a building’s gutters, downpipes and stormwater systems are generally one of the last items to be completed. If there are discrepancies with what has been designed and what is possible to install on site, in some cases builders will take it upon themselves to make alterations to the drainage design. These adhoc decisions are made to achieve required deadlines, without the perceived delays a hydraulic engineer’s re-design would take on the relevant aspect of the system. This can increase the risk of water penetrating into the internal area of a building where it can cause significant damage.

Buildings Defects Australia check drainage systems against best practice measures in the plumbing industry and overall compliance with the Australian Standard 3500.3 2018 Plumbing and Drainage of Stormwater. In most cases, BDA are able to provide effective solutions and modifications to a buildings hydraulics to achieve compliance, saving on expensive works that would normally be required to remove and replace entire drainage systems.

Pump Systems

Incorrectly designed or installed sewage, water and fire system pumps and general pumping equipment can result in expensive failures and high maintenance costs.

A pump’s design and configuration may at times meet Australian Standards, while still intermittently failing in operation or by not meeting a building’s operational requirements. Understanding the particular limitations on pump selection and the potential for operational issues resulting from pump arrangement, can prevent ongoing maintenance problems and can increase considerably the longevity of pumping systems for a building. 

General Pipework

Many defects occur in the selection and installation of water supply pipework.  One example is poor quality control in roll grooving of pipework, that can result in weak joints leading to future mechanical failures. Failures in pipework can be a major risk factor for a building and pose a significant risk of flood damage.  Early identification of weak pipe joints is critical, through a BDA inspection we can facilitate testing of pipework systems to eliminate catastrophic failures.

Outdated Building Defects
Latent Defects

Concrete if not poured correctly can deteriorate over time. Some examples of poor workmanship include:

  • Inadequate concrete cover of steel reinforcement when pouring the concrete;
  • Incorrect design or poor concrete mix selection;
  • Concrete additives that cause unwanted effects on concrete integrity;
  • Poor concrete vibrating and / or compaction during pour; &
  • Poor curing / moisture control of concrete following pour.

If any number of the above errors has occurred during construction of a building, some possible evidence will be:

  • Concrete cracking in slabs;
  • Honeycombing of concrete;
  • Concrete spalling where concrete begins to break apart and fall away in sections;
  • Exposure of reinforcement steel – which will speed up the process of concrete deterioration.

The team of experts at BDA have extensive experience in the identification, analysis and rectification of concrete structural defects. More often than not, if concrete deterioration is identified early, there are cost effective remediation techniques available that can eliminate the issue altogether or to extend the life of the concrete. We can assist with future works planning and can provide the remediation scope of works required to fix the issue and provide costing estimates to allow for financial forecasting

Ageing Building Components

Structural steel components of a building can deteriorate over time and need to be periodically monitored and maintained to retain structural integrity. Our team are experts in the identification of the key indicators of steel deterioration and will provide advice as to what remediation works are required to preserve the steel components.

Undersized steel beams or columns are another example of items identified in BDA inspections. The steel components may have been incorrectly sized during construction or with additional works performed following construction, additional or varied structural loads can be a result that were never factored into the original design. If required, we can provide revised calculations to determine new steel component sizes, including methodology of how they are to be installed and the estimated cost of the works. This allows our clients to gain a full picture of the works required, and both the financial and operational impacts on their assets.

Outdated Building Systems

Our engineers are trained to identify the early signs of latent defects prior to their emergence. There are various key indicators of structural defects that can build a picture of a building’s current structural adequacy. During a BDA inspection, we are able to perform non-destructive investigations, to identify problems before they become costly. If structural defects are identified in their early stages, simple techniques such as eliminating water penetration can remove the defect before they become a structural issue. This is crucial for BDA to minimise future maintenance costs for our clients.

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