Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Footing design for home

By: Peter Huber
Posted By: BHIS

What is probably as important as consistent compaction is the design of the footings and the actual digging and pouring is equally as important. Firstly footings should be designed according to the nature of the soil. For example you would not design the same size footing when building in clay soils as you would if you were to build on sandy well drained soil.

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It has always been our advise to firstly sample and categorise the soil, if you are to build on clay or loamy soil, especially where drainage is poor. This will then determine the type of footing design for the home and will minimize any settling or cracking that would normally occur.

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Well we now have got, consistent compaction and a footing, designed specifically for the soil and a slab to match. The next step is to examine the perimeter masonry walls to see if and what type of settling cracks have occurred if any.

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The settling cracks that are visible on the brick work or internal walls are a signature or blue print as to what has occurred under the slab.

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The walls are a reflection or and indication as to the stability of the foundation. Below are some diagrams showing the different type of cracks that can occur and why.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

What to inspect when buying a home?

By: Peter Huber
Posted By: BHIS
Source: http://bit.ly/1VHVbtP

It goes like this, before you buy something, and a friend had described it to you in detail ”warts and all”, it would have helped in shaping your ideas in the purchase of that something.

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Well the same goes for when buying a car or a house. These are major purchases for most people and for some it is the single most important investment in their live. This being the case then, would it then not make sense that before buying, some one thoroughly checks out your proposed purchase before a final commitment is made on paper in the form of an offer to purchase. Preferably a mate in the building industry or a professional inspection institution can be called upon to give an unbiased opinion based on the structural nature of the building.

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The things that a buyer should be aware of is that firstly the foundation, walls and roof construction are sound, as theses components constitute the shell and anything else is purely cosmetic.

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Firstly the foundations:- If they are Limestone, then one would have to appreciate that they are large chunks of rock, shaped and placed into a hand dug trench and mortared into position, there was never any compaction carried out to the soil below the first laid limestone, hence the ground could move and settle as the weight of the walls was placed upon the Limestone. Large homes were built upon the limestone foundations and later the settling took place and was and still is evidenced in settling cracks noted on wall.

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These days we build the foundations a different way, mostly it is a concrete perimeter beam and a floating slab is resting on top of these footings. This latter method is built on soil that has been compacted to a uniform compaction. If this compaction is not uniform then uneven settling can be the major source of settling cracks, as the foundation settles under the weight of the walls and roof. The importance of uniform compaction is so vital that theoretically, if the compaction was uniform then no settling would occur.

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The importance of keeping the perimeter foundation at a constant moisture level is equally as important since a constant change in concentrated moisture levels content will cause the soils supporting the perimeter footing beam to move. This movement is transferred to the walls and settling cracks appear over windows and doors as these are the most vulnerable areas. So it is important that the down pipes are connected to soakwells which are at least 1.8 meters away from any footing.

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Next week we will continue with this, so that by the end, you will have a comprehensive check list.

Monday, April 25, 2016

why concrete tiles for roof?


By: Peter Huber
Posted By:BHIS

Ok lets continue where we left of in the last article, on the fact and fiction about roof tiles.

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If you are worried about the usage of concrete tiles when collecting rain water, well there is nothing to worry about as we are assured that the surface of the concrete tile is a suitable surface from which to gather water for drinking, and best results are achieved when an appropriate collection system is fitted.

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If you are building near the coast you also need not worry, as the prolonged exposure of concrete tiles have a proven record of resistance to corrosive atmospheres.
Similarly in tropical conditions the added weight of a concrete roof helps to counteract wind uplift during storms making it less susceptible to damage than some other roofing materials.
Normally concrete tiles require very  little if any maintenance due to their exceptional durability, if some is required then only the affected tile will need to be replaced.

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Cleaning of the tiles is also not  a necessity but Lichen and moss can be removed by high pressure jet water sprays or by the application of a specific chemical formula sold for this purpose of removing the lichen and moss. In fact the formula for the magic potion is this:-  200 grams of copper sulphate, to 4.5 litres of water The average roof will need ten times this amount, the solution is broomed onto the offending areas and eradication will take place over the following couple of months and it should be left to work on its own as the moss and lichen will gradually disappear. On porous tiles the solution has a residual affect as it remains and inhibits any future or early re-growths.

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When using copper sulphate solutions be careful that metalwork such as guttering is protected to prevent corrosive  action. Gutters should be filled with water by blocking the downpipes as any solution running into the gutter will be extremely diluted and not affect the metal gutter.
By comparison concrete tiles are very affordable and generally cost less than metal or clay covering, on most profiles the fit is neat and even, but the coating that is applied to the tiles is still subject to weathering and will eventually wear off and needs re-painting.

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So myths like, Lichen and Moss will eat into your tiles and weathering of the original surface coating makes old tiles porous, is all a lot of old wife’s tales and scare tactics, invented by itinerant traders.

Every so often we would like to publish questions with answers that our readers may have on renovating or building, so please share your comments.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Tips for choosing roof tile for your home

By: Peter Huber
Posted By:BHIS

The other day I spoke to a gentleman who asked me, to confirm to him that he needs to replace his concrete tiles on his house with clay tiles, I questioned his rationale and a mountain of misleading  statements flowed from his mouth, perhaps the most memorable was that “as concrete tiles become older they start to leak and there is nothing short of replacing them with clay tiles”

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I must say I have heard many such rumour floating around, all of which I am hopefully about to dispelled. I decided to see if the concrete tile manufacturers have become aware of these rumours and what if any, their official response was?

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After talking to several people connected to the concrete tile industry, a brochure was mailed to us prophetically titled “THE FACTS ON CONCRETE TILES”

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I will summarise and add some of our own comments to the questions and topics covered in this brochure.
The modern manufacturing process makes the tiles exceptionally durable, they are manufactured to Australian standards and the physical properties of concrete will remain unchanged well in the excess of fifty or more years, irrespective of climatic conditions.

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Concrete actually becomes stronger with time and remember concrete is the preferred  material for major structures such as bridges and high rise towers because of its inherent qualities of strength and longevity, additionally it out last other roof cover materials as it does not rust or corrode.
“DO CONCRETE TILES ABSORB WATER AND THEREFORE DOUBLE IN WEIGHT?”  No this is incorrect and a myth. The Australian standards AS1757-1989 actually specifies a maximum water absorption of only 10% per total immersion in water for 24 hrs. In practice the absorption of water by capillary action during periods of heavy rain would increase the weight of the tile by around 5%. Contrary to claims of some roofing companies, this weight increase is unlikely to cause structural roof or stump failure.

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“DOES WEATHERING OF THE ORIGINAL TILE COATING MAKE TILES POROUS?” Not true.  The colour coating is purely decorative and is not designed as a water proofing film. As in most water proof purpose made concrete, water proofing is achieved by using carefully selected, formulated, batched and graded materials which are then compacted during manufacture. This then produces a concrete product of high density and strength which naturally keeps out water.

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“ARE CONCRETE TILES FIRE RESISTANT” yes they are totally incombustible and fully fire resistant according to ASTM (USA)E108-88 tests, there is no comparable test available in Australia.
“WHAT ABOUT THERMAL AND SOUND INSULATION” Tiles  take longer to heat up and tiled roofs usually have a larger volume roof spaces which “breathe” so houses with tiles roofs  stay cooler longer, but once the heat build up accumulates for long periods, it also works in reverse that it takes longer to cool down.

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Due to the greater mass of concrete tiles they do provide a better sound insulating quality than metal roofing, they help to reduce to noise intrusion in particular caused by rain and hail.

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We will continue to discuss the myths and facts of roof tiles


Monday, November 9, 2015

Overcoming damp problems in your house | Professional Home Inspections Perth

By:Peter Huber
posted by: bhis.com
Source: http://bhis.com.au/2013/02/overcoming-damp-problems/

From time to time the CSIRO is asked to suggest remedies for dampness caused by rain penetrating solid masonry walls, below are some of their invaluable findings and suggestions which are worth passing on.
Single-leaf construction cannot be expected to be water-tight, especially if it is subjected to wind-driven rain. If the wall thickness is increased it should be more resistant to rain penetration, but poor workmanship in the form of unfilled joints and un-tooled face joints can result in walls that are prone to dampness despite their thickness and apparent solidity.

Often people seek a quick and easy “brush-on” treatment, preferably to be applied from the inside, but we consider the latter to be unrealistic and a false economy. External treatment aimed at preventing the masonry from becoming damp in the first place is a more sound approach. Some possibilities are described:



Silicone formulations brushed or sprayed onto porous surfaces make them water repellent, so that water then runs down treated walls instead of being absorbed. There is a risk in this, however, because fissures wider than hairline crack are not bridged by these materials. The increased amount of water running down the wall during a shower can result in more water penetrating the wall, via such fissures, than before the treatment. With this in mind walls should be examined carefully, and repaired if necessary, before silicone is applied. Silicones deteriorate in sunlight and periodic reapplication is required if the wall is to remain water repellent.


This is a useful treatment. Two coats should be applied on the wall after the necessary preparation. A minimum preparation would be to repair gaps and defects in the mortar joints, but in practice “bagging” of the whole wall is advisable. A mixture of 1:4 cement: plasterer’s sand is suggested for this, the wall being “wetted down” before starting.


If organic paints are to be used “bagging” is an essential preparation. As long as the paint film is intact the system will be effective, but once cracking starts water will be trapped behind the paint. This water will take a long time to evaporate and, under adverse conditions, the wall can become progressively damper. In any case the life of the paint system there-after is likely to be short.


This treatment is virtually permanent and should be effective in all but the most severe conditions. For resistance to rain penetration a rough-textured and porous rendering is normally more effective than a dense and impermeable plain finish. Suitable cement: l lime: sand mixes are given in the British Standard Code of Practice CP 221, “External rendered finishes”, available from the Standards Association of Australia.

The discussions and hint given above will suit most homes that have damp problems, in fact silicone treatment seems to be the most popular, especially in the case where the external walls are face bricks.

If you have any further questions please call our office.

We want you the reader to write to us on, any Building matters, and questions or if you seek advice, we will gladly answer any topic that you wish us to discuss, so please send your letters to “B. & H. I. S.” C/O. 17 Battye Road, Kardinya, W.A. 6163 or fax/ph (09) 331-3031

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Best Wall Coverings practices | Pre Purchase Building Inspections Perth

By:Peter Huber
Posted By:bhis.com
Source: http://bit.ly/1iIkPO6

Vinyl wall coverings (vinyl laminated to paper or fabric) have become very popular over the last few years, largely because they are more easily cleaned than the uncoated open-textured types. Yet it is just this impervious, otherwise-desirable surface that sometimes creates a mould problem.

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In one home examined by the Division of CSIRO, red and purple stains were found to be showing through from behind a light coloured vinyl wall covering within two weeks of application. The stains, which originated in the paste layer, were identified as a type of mould. The key factor in this rapid mould growth was the fact that paste had been sandwiched between a painted wall and a sub-substantial vinyl membrane.

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On one hand, the impervious vinyl layer prevented evaporation of moisture from the paste layer while on the other hand, the painted background drastically reduced absorption of water into the wall. Thus, the paste was kept moist long enough for mould growth to start. Had an adhesive offering less nourishment to moulds been used, mould growth would have been unlikely. Similarly, had the wall covering been a plain paper or one of the “spongeable” wallpapers (papers with a very thin plastic film on the surface), or one of the “breathable” vinyls, mould growth would again have been unlikely since such coverings “breathe”, enabling the paste to dry by evaporation.

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When hanging wall coverings of solid vinyl sheet laminated to paper, it is a wise precaution to apply a fungicidal wash such as two percent sodium hypochlorite solution to the wall before sizing it with a dilute solution of a cellulose adhesive with fungicide added. For best results manufacturers suggest applying lining paper to the wall before finally hanging the wall covering, using the heavy-duty cellulose adhesive for both operations. In the case of mould staining described above the vinyl wall overing had been hung, without a preliminary fungicidal ash, using a starch paste (instead of a cellulose adhesive) with fungicide added. Obviously this was not enough protection.

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When the weather is very cold and damp the cellulose adhesive may take a long time to set, so an acrylic-reinforced latex adhesive might be advisable under such conditions, to avoid lifting of the seams. Alternatively, he cellulose adhesive could be used and, if the seams do lift, they could be bonded to the wall with the latex. When hanging wall coverings of vinyl sheet laminated to fabric, only the specially formulated adhesives recommended by the manufacturers should be used.

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Normally, coverings are not hung on absorbent surfaces. Manufacturers recommend that bare surfaces be painted with a flat oil paint, and it has been assumed in the above that this has been done.

For now till next week when we will discuss

your “Handy Jock”.

Any questions that our readers may have would be gladly welcomed and endeavoured to be answered as seen fit.

Source: http://bit.ly/1iIkPO6

Friday, September 4, 2015

How to stop condensation? | Professional Building Inspections WA

Posted By:Peter Huber
Continued from the post > CondensationIssues
Condensation is basically simple. It involves preventing moist air from coming into contact with cold surfaces (ie. surfaces at temperatures below the dew point of air). In practice this can be achieved by:
§  Removing moisture laden air (by ventilation) and/or
§  Raising the temperature of any cold interior surface to a level above the room air dew point (by heating).
The best way to remove moist air is to use exhaust fans as its source. An electric fan should be installed in the ceilings of the bathrooms and switched on when using showers or baths. To enable the fan to work more effectively, leave a door or window slightly open while the fan is running.
A ceiling vent is recommended over every sink, basin or trough in the house.
More water vapour is normally generated in laundries tan in any other room. Clothes driers should be ducted to the outside air.
A hood fitted with an exhaust fan is recommended over hot plates and stoves as follows:
§  The exhaust fan should be at least 200 mm in diameter.
§  The distance between the hotplate and hood should be 600 mm, this distance may be increased to 750 mm if absolutely necessary.
§  The width and depth of the hood should be preferably the same as the hot plate or stove.

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If it is not practical to install a hood, an exhaust fan may be located in the ceiling over the stove and used while cooking.
In rooms where exhaust fans are impracticable (eg. bedrooms) adequate ventilation can be obtained by opening windows.
Remember it is better to ventilate continuously by having all windows slightly open than by opening one window wide for a short time.
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In addition to good ventilation, heating can also help to reduce condensation on walls and ceilings. Condensation on window panes and metal window frames, however, is not significantly reduced by heating. This is because glass and metal are good conductors of heat. Any heat which reaches these surfaces does not warm them appreciably as the heat quickly is lost to the outside air.
In very cold climates (and in Australia this can be takes to mean in areas above the snow line), it may be necessary to provide double glazing to raise the temperature of the inner pane.
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It is better to provide some continuous background heating rather than short burst of heating. Continuous heating allows wall and ceiling surfaces to warm up and stay warm, which greatly reduces the risk of condensation. On cold days try to keep inside air temperatures at least 5oC higher than outside air temperatures.
The risk of condensation is considerably reduce in any room if walls and ceiling are insulated, because it allows these surfaces to reach a higher temperature. For an existing house it may not be practical to insulate walls, but ceilings can usually be easily insulated. Apart from reducing the risk of condensation and mould growth, insulation will substantially reduce heating costs.
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Technical information by Courtesy of CSIRO.
Your “Handy Jock”.
Any questions that our readers may have would be gladly welcomed and endeavoured to be answered as seen fit.

Source: www.bit.ly/1NzosBy