With every new construction, there are always some issues that get over looked which is not surprising based on the program being very tight and the supervisor typically looking after 15 or more homes being built at the same time.
Stage by Stage New Construction Inspections identify and document the defective works, track the rectification process and ensure each and every home is built to a fully compliant manner both building and contractually concerned.
Common defects that occur are:
The requirement under the standard is that all steel work or fabric used for the structural integrity within concrete, will not be within a certain distance of the edge or surface. This standard is designed to ensure concrete cancer does not occur from moisture ingress to the slab rusting the steel. Often, we find that steel work is hard against boxing’s prior to pouring and steel is protruding at slab and rebate edges after pours. When defects are identified preventative or rectification works are advised.
Membrane missing or damaged
The black plastic or membrane installed under the slab must continue the full extent of the slab and extend up the sides to “Finished Ground Level”. Although minor in nature this is typically not performed which compromises the slab edge and increases the chance of moisture ingress to the slab and ultimately deterioration.
The timber frame which is the structural element upon which the entire home rests, must be adequately supported along its full length. Often we find that the frame is unsupported due to slab set out issues with engineering documentation and rectification required.
Diagonal bracing non-compliant
The frames itself is very flexible and can easily be deformed by external forces such as wind pressure. There are a number of items in a frame which are paramount to ensure the longevity of the structure. Diagonal bracing is one of these items that must be correctly installed, especially with respect to its location, fixing angle and number and type of nails used. We find braces being installed at the incorrect angles or over cut or missing the correct type or number of nails.
Nailing off incomplete
As mentioned there are a number of items that are paramount in ensuring the longevity of the home which includes the correct installation of fundamental items at Frame stage. These items include Studs, Plates, Noggins and Blocks. All timber elements have a required number, diameter and length of nail that is to be used in their installation. When any of the elements are not installed in accordance with the standard the entire frame is jeopardised as all items are designed to work together in the completed frame. Within a standard 3 bedroom home there are 1000’s of items of nailing and connections that are required to be checked at frame stage.
Damage by trades
Once the home is at lockup and all items to this stage have been inspected you would expect that nothing could go wrong. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Now it is the time that the services trades such as Electricians, Plumbers, Ducted Vac installers and Solar panel installers etc start to “rough in” their works. The issue is that the frame is complete and signed off but now we need to install a plethora of items. The frame at this stage is always compromised with over penetrations to the top plates and structural studs, removal of diagonal bracing or cutting of sheet bracing, over notching to studs and removal of blocks and noggins. All of these works compromise the frame with immediate rectification required.
Exterior linings, substandard installation
Brickwork, Hebel panel, Lightweight claddings and Timber finishes all have a specific requirement for installation and finishing. All products have a manufacturers installation requirement and or an Australian Standard which needs to be adhered to. Trades do not always understand the complete requirements for installation with substandard installation techniques often utilised due to lack of training. Where these product have not been installed to the minimum requirement rectification is required.
Painting, incomplete or substandard
This is one of the most important finishing trades and more often than not one of the most argued about. The Australian Standard is very clear as is the Standards & Tolerances Guide in relation to the required level of finish and the viewing position from which the finished works are to be viewed. Painting works must be completed to all areas of the home to meet the minimum standard which includes issues with Over painting, Lack of preparation, Thin or inconsistent finishes, Lack of sanding between coats or Marked surfaces from roller or brush strokes.
Tiling, poor finish
Issues with tiling exist on almost every new home. The tiling standard is not dissimilar to the painting standard, clear and well defined but still there are disagreements. Builders have attempted to write in their own specifications into contracts to dissolve some of the client’s issues, but this has done little to assist. Consistent issues identified with tiling are, Inconsistent grout line widths, Marked or damaged tiles by other trades, Inconsistent texture or colour of grout, Tile lippage especially in shower bases, Fall of tiles in shower bases and balconies and Chipped tiles at cut lines around floor grades and shower niches. Where works do not meet the minimum standard rectification is required.
When you have a new home built that is exactly what you want, A New Home, not one with scratches or marks or dents. Not one with mortar smears on the brickwork or blocked weep holes or dirt pushed up against the side of the house so you can’t see the issues with the slab edge. You expect the doors to open, the drawers to slide, the locks to work and the lights to turn on. Sure, there are things you will need to or have agreed to do yourself like the landscaping or the fencing, or driveway or whatever, but all of the included works must be performed in accordance with the associated standard, the builder’s specification, the contract and the National Construction Code. The handover inspection of a home looks at all of the fixtures, fittings and features of the completed home and measures them against the required or agreed standard. At the completion, all areas of the home should be agreed with and a mutual acceptance of the standard of finish.
You wouldn’t let anyone but a builder build your home. Why would you let anyone but a builder inspect it!