BUILDING, PROPERTY & CONSTRUCTION FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions for Project Managers, NSW Builders & Strata Managers

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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 ABCB website).

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 page, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Email us through our Contact 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.

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.
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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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

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.