Retaining Wall – Holding Back The Earth
The importance of retaining walls is often underestimated. What about the ads on the radio – “it’s alright, my landscaper is an LV member”, unfortunately that will be of little assistance if something goes wrong with the retaining wall they ‘design’ and build. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing our landscaping contractors – more so, I’m trying to illuminate the fact that retaining walls are a structure, not just a landscaping feature. The consequences of a failed retaining wall will be certainly costly, possibly litigious and potentially lethal.
In Victoria, a building permit needs be obtained prior to the construction of any retaining walls that is greater than one metre in height. Retention structures which are newer or on title boundary will also have a requirement to ensure that the assets of your neighbours will not be adversely affected by the construction of the retaining wall. This requirement will often dictate the design and type of retaining wall construction.
Retention structures come in a range of flavours, from the common sleepers type, to reinforced masonry, reinforced concrete, precast concrete or a range of sophisticated types for basements.
If you are planning on a landscaping project which incorporates retaining walls we would recommend making an allowance for the engagement of a structural engineer and geotechnical investigation by suitably qualified and experienced professionals.
FC Design can assist you with your project, be it retaining walls for your landscape project or the basement of your dream home! Call us to discuss your needs, don’t leave it to your landscaper!
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I Can Use My Roof Space For Storage, Right?
We’ve all thought about it. Some of us have seen the TV show where the oca chippier shows us how easy it is to make a storage space in our roof. Seems like an easy DIY project, right?
If you think yes, then you my friend must be related to Captaincies Risky. Converting the use of your roof space for storage or an attic is well and truly modifying the use of typical ceiling framing in a manner that is hasn’t been designed for.
Your typical ceiling lining some insulation, lighting and perhaps some heating/cooling ducting. All told about 15kg per square metre in building materials. On top of this there will have been an allowance of 50kg per square metre for incidental/maintenance type activities.
If you intend to use the space as a habitable room, then there is a requirement under the Building Code of Australia to increase the allowance for activities to 150kg per square meter – that’s a 300% increase!
If you intend to use the space for storage, then this allowance would be higher still with 300kg per square metre not uncommon.
Apart form the loading considerations there could be other issues which require addressing, such as dust control,, natural light and ventilation, and risks associated with storing combustible material in a rarely accessed space.
Can this type of conversion be done? If course! But it will require advice from a Structural Engineer and it will definitely require a Building Permit and advice from a Building Surveyor. We can help with the former and point you in the right direction for the latter!
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How Much Should You Worry About That Crack?
Cracking in the walls, ceilings and floors of your home is disconcerting. Always.
Cracking is indicative of a structural defect, right? Not always.
Structural intervention is expensive, there is no way of getting around it. Underpinning, reblocking and in the most extreme of cases demolition are sometimes required.
Sometimes the cracks are not symptomatic of an issue that requires structural intervention. Sometimes all that is required is a patch up and paint as we move in and out of drought cycles.
Cracks can be caused by a large number of variables, some of which can be readily mitigated through managing the ground our homes are built on.
The suburbs surrounding Melbourne can be built on soils that have a tremendous capacity to shrink and swell with moisture changes. Normally buildings are designed taking this seasonal movement into account – minimizing how much of the soil movements get transferred into your floors, walls and ceilings.
Sometimes the culprit lies in our garden trees, gardens and garden beds close to your home can have a profound effect on the moisture conditions of the soils your home has been built on, same goes for leaking water and sewer pipes.
Sometimes cracking can be a result of something more sinister – poor workmanship, poor material choices and/or poor design.
If you have concerns over cracking you have noticed in your home or building, the quickest way to gain an understanding of what could be causing the cracking and how much you should be worrying about them to engage the services of a Structural Engineer.