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Building Movement


A popular misconception is that your house shouldn’t move. Unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth. All buildings move due to a number of reasons:

1. Ground movement.

Unless your house is built on rock, then quite a lot of movement can occur in the soil that supports the footings. Such movement could be due to a wide range of natural factors such as temperature, rainfall, drainage problems, leaking plumbing, trees, gardens, landscaping, and the weight of the building compressing the soil.

2. Settling In.

House frames are not built to the same standards as fine furniture. The joints within the frame of a house consists of nails, screw, bolts, straps, and clips. For some time after a house has been completed, there is movement in all of the frame joints as the inherent small gaps are compressed and close under the weight of the house.

3. Different Materials.

All houses consist of a wide range of different materials: bricks, steel, timber, concrete, plastic, stone, etc. These materials all bend, stretch, compress, expand and contract at different rates and for different reasons. For example, timber shrinks, brickwork grows, concrete shrinks, heat and moisture cause expansion. The variety of materials in a house are all moving, all the time.

4. Workmanship.

In a perfect world everyone who participates in the construction of a house would be meticulous in the work that they perform. Unfortunately this isn’t the case, and short cuts are often made during the build. This may mean that some parts of the construction won’t be as stable as they should be.

It is normal for movement to occur, and it is normal for there to be some level of minor cracking damage or movement damage present in a house. Such cracking damage is usually less than 1mm wide.

If excessive movement has occurred then an inspection by the builder or a structural engineer may be required to diagnose the reasons for the movement and to identify methods for rectifying either the movement or the damage.

If you require assistance contact Scott at Tandem Consulting Engineers on 02 4934 8464

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October 14, 2013 |

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