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all your questions ABOUT TBE Solutions and Common Building Defects.

 

Can TBE Solutions reports be used in court? 

Yes. Our reports are extremely professional and are of a court-approved standard. We strictly follow the current Australian Guide to Standards and Tolerances (see the ABCB website through the Links page).

What types of buildings do TBE Solutions examine? 

Any residential or commercial property. If you are not sure whether your building would qualify, or do not know what to term your structure, send us an email with a description (and preferably photos) of your property along with your query via the Contact Us page, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

How do I get pricing details from TBE Solutions? 

Email us through our Contact Us page. Because each building is unique, each project is unique and requires individual attention and pricing. We at TBE Solutions pride ourselves on our cost-effective reputation, and can only give you pricing details once the situation has been fully discussed. Simply email us your details and we can then establish your needs and the subsequent charge.

What is the TBE Solutions Legal Disclaimer? 

When you are visiting this website (www.tbesolutions.net.au) you accept all of the terms of the following 6 disclaimers. Do not use this website if you think that any of the following disclaimers are unreasonable.

  1. No liability for any errors or omissions. The information on the Total Building Engineering Services Pty Ltd (TBE Solutions) website does not constitute legal, professional or commercial advice. While every care has been taken to ensure that the content is useful and accurate, TBE Solutions gives no guarantees, undertakings or warranties in this regard, and does not accept any legal liability or responsibility for the content or the accuracy of the information so provided, or, for any loss or damage caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with reliance on the use of such information. Any errors or omissions brought to the attention of TBE Solutions will be corrected as soon as possible. The information in this website may contain technical inaccuracies and typographical errors. The information in this website may be updated from time to time and may at times be out of date. TBE Solutions accepts no responsibility for keeping the information in this website up to date or any liability whatsoever for any failure to do so.
  2. Material on this website does not constitute legal and/or professional advice. Any views, opinions, and guidance set out in this website are provided for information purposes only, and do not purport to be legal and/or professional advice or a definitive interpretation of any law. Anyone contemplating action in respect of matters set out in this website should obtain advice from one of our suitably qualified professional advisors based on their unique requirements. 
  3. No Warranty or Endorsement. Reference in this website to any specific commercial products, process or service by trade mark, trade name, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favouring by TBE Solutions. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of TBE Solutions and shall not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes.
  4. No responsibility for other websites. When you access other external websites through a link from the TBE Solutions website, please note that TBE Solutions has no control over the content on external websites. The links to external websites are provided as a matter of convenience only, and should not be taken as an endorsement by TBE Solutions of the contents or practices of those external websites, for which TBE Solutions assumes no responsibility or liability.
  5. Third Party Company and Products. Any reference or mention to third party companies and/or products on the website of TBE Solutions, is for purely informational purposes only. This information does not constitute either an endorsement or a recommendation. Unless clearly stated otherwise, all third party products and/or services must be ordered directly from the vendor and all licenses and warranties take place between you and the vendor. TBE Solutions accepts no liability whatsoever for the use or misuse of any third party companies and their products and/or services.
  6. Licence to use this site. Material on this site, including text and images, is protected by copyright law and is copyrighted by TBE Solutions unless otherwise copyrighted and/or owned. No material on this site may be copied, reproduced, republished, downloaded, posted, broadcast, or transmitted in any way except for your own personal, non-commercial use. No part of this site may be distributed or copied for any commercial purpose or financial gain. All intellectual property rights in relation to this site are reserved and owned by TBE Solutions, unless otherwise reserved and owned.
Do TBE Solutions conduct thermal inspections?

Yes we do. A Thermal inspection is an inspection conducted by a qualified electrician with the latest FLIR infrared camera technology on any residential or commercial property. Recently, a thermal imaging survey has become an important part of the Commercial Premises Fire Risk assessment tool now required by many insurance companies. As well as addressing common building concerns in our defect reports, part of our team includes a qualified electrician experienced in thermography. The most important reason to have a thermal inspection done is to ensure fire safety, which reduces insurance premiums and future costs and damages. Electrical distribution systems are the third leading cause of home fires and the source of an estimated 51,000 fires each year, causing 500 deaths and $1.3 billion in property damage. In a thermal inspection we use the latest FLIR infrared camera technology to non-invasively spot ‘hot joints’ invisible to the human eye and compile a photographic report for you. There are many other benefits of thermal imaging including the fact it takes less time, money and mess than invasive procedures, and it is incredibly specific and reliable. Other things a thermographer can detect in buildings include:

  • Electrical faults: discovers oxidation or overheating of high voltage switches and connections, insulator defects, high resistance or corroded connections, internal fuse damage, and internal circuit breaker faults.
  • Mechanical faults: highlights any lubrication issues, misalignments, overheated motors, suspect rollers, overheated pumps and motor axles, and hot bearings.
  • Pipework: identifies leakages in pipes, valves and pumps, insulation breakdowns, and pipe blockage.
  • Other applications:  flare detection, tank level detection, inspection of mould, pests, and rising damp, and checking the temperature distribution in asphalt pavement.

Common building concerns

Why is the paint on my plaster bubbling? 

Most likely it is water ingress. Water ingress is when moisture penetrates any product. When this occurs the moisture travels from one side of the substrate (usually brick) through to the other side of the render which absorbs the moisture like a sponge. This causes the bubbling. This often happens on the other side of a wall which backs onto a bathroom or shower, and on the outside of a building where the moisture in the soil makes its way into the outer walls causing bubbling there.

Why is my cement render wall cracking? 

Variations in temperature of the inflexible render causes cracking. Cement render, no matter how it is formulated (usually a ratio including sand, lime, cement and water) is highly alkaline and extremely rigid. After it is mixed and applied to the building it has to be left for 28 days to cure which allows the alkaline to stabilise before it is painted. After being painted, the render is usually exposed to extreme variations in temperature which causes it to expand and contract. This ongoing stress on an inflexible product causes the render to crack. These cracks appear first as hairline cracks and are more obvious when the render is wet.

What is drummy render & what causes it? 

When the cement/plaster pulls away from a wall making a hollow space behind it. Drummy render is when the cement or plaster render coating becomes loose. When tapped with a bar it produces a hollow, weak sound (i.e. it sounds like a drum, or it sounds “drummy”). There are many different causes for drummy render and these have been debated by many plasterers. These possible causes include:  heavy vibrations, water ingress (see below), not enough cement in the mix, render went on too thick, or it may be that when the plumbers and electricians chase up the walls the dust left behind formed a membrane on the wall separating the render from the substrate. It may be some or all or none of these factors, but these are the most commonly quoted possibilities.

What is concrete spalling? 

Concrete spalling is the cracking or breaking down of concrete due to the corrosion and expansion of the inner steel reinforcements. When concrete is used in construction, steel bars or steel mesh can be used inside the concrete slab as reinforcement, but when exposed to air or water, the steel reinforcements can corrode, which causes the reinforcements and thus the concrete to expand. Concrete spalling is a common building condition, and is especially prevalent in buildings which are close to saline environments, such as ones along the coastline. It is also called “concrete cancer” due to the progression of the corrosion. Once the concrete has cracked, it further exposes the steel to water and air, speeding up the process.

Is condensation a building defect?

No. Condensation occurs naturally when a vapour is cooled down and it changes to a liquid. It is not considered a building defect. However, if it is not allowed to dry or evaporate it can create damp which may, over a period of time, encourage mould (see next section).

How can I counteract mould? 

By allowing air and sun to penetrate your building daily. Moulds are a type of fungi and do not get energy through photosynthesis but from the organic matter on which they live. Their presence is only visible to the human eye when mould colonies grow. The simplest way to mitigate mould growth is to reduce the moisture levels which facilitate its growth. If a building or area already has the presence of moisture and is left in the dark it is likely to produce mould. Aeration, cleanliness and sunlight are the simplest ways to counteract this moisture build-up and to reduce the stability of the temperature and humidity in the environment which is particularly attractive to moulds.

What is magnesite flooring? 

A cork-like type of flooring material which is light brown and porous. Magnesite flooring was commonly used as a finishing surface on concrete floor slabs mainly during the 1960s and 70s to make the concrete level and provide insulation. It is composed of calcined magnesite, magnesium chloride, sawdust, ground quartz or silica, and fine powdered wood waste. However, it is associated with water damage because it is very porous and readily absorbs water. It lets water through to the concrete below easily and this can lead to concrete spalling (or concrete cancer, see above). It also retains the water unless regularly exposed to sunlight for evaporation. This means it can rot away and become soggy in damp patches.

What is efflorescence? 

The formation of salt deposits on or near the surface of concrete causing a change in appearance. Efflorescence is generally harmless and can become less extensive over time. It is also known to become more obvious in winter but may be observed throughout the year after heavy rain and a drop in temperature. It is more a surface issue than a deeper problem. There are many different ways efflorescence can occur including both chemical processes (a reaction between the concrete and carbon dioxide and/or sulphurous gases) and physical processes (involving the transfer of salt and water in and out of concrete or masonry). There are also a number of factors in combination with climatic and environmental conditions which can cause it including: the constituents of concrete (cement, aggregates, salts and water), the quality of the concrete, how the concrete was cured, and the surrounding environment (temperature, moisture levels and external sources of salt). There is no guaranteed solution for efflorescence but prevention can be achieved by using a few different methods: select ingredients for making the concrete or mortar with the least possible soluble salts, use tools which are clean and free of rust, salt or other harmful materials, keep water out, avoid premature drying of the concrete, treat the surface of newly finished concrete with water-repellent materials.

What is calcification?

Calcification is a type of efflorescence which is mainly composed of calcium deposits. See question above.

What is moisture ingress and slab edge dampness? 

Moisture ingress literally means “the entrance of moisture”, so it is when moisture penetrates any product.  Slab edge dampness is simply when a slab edge is damp – however, this can be an entrance for water to the inside of the building which can cause water damage problems. Most slab edges are occasionally damp due to rain, garden watering, or by contact with the ground. In some cases, when this dampness is able to permeate from the outside to the inside (moisture ingress) it can affect the internal walls and/or finishes of a building. Indications of slab edge dampness include persistent dampness of the exposed face of the concrete slab/footing, efflorescence, drummy render (see above), pungent odours in floor coverings (ie. damp carpets), watermarks, mould growth, rusting and external paint blistering/peeling/bubbling. All aspects of planning, site excavation, construction and post-construction landscaping must be considered to minimise the risk of slab edge dampness and moisture ingress.


For more information contact one of our friendly staff on (02) 9693-5154.