Cap-It-All Building Inspections

A sign that a termite nest may be located near you

At this time of year new colonies of termites begin as many thousands of termite alates set out on a flight in a bid to reproduce and establish a new nest.

What is an alate?

The life cycle of a termite is egg, nymph and adult stages. The termite nymph hatches directly from an egg. Attendants feed nymphs regurgitated food for the first two weeks, enabling them through moulting to become workers, soldiers, reproductive, or supplementary reproductive. It is at the transformation from the nymph to adult stage that a termite may become a soldier, worker or reproductive. These specialised groups are called castes. Each caste is physically different and performs a particular function. As the reproductive nymph matures, its body lengthens and sexual organs develop. The body turns black, eyes become functional, and wings extend twice its body length.

<span “font-size:11.0pt;font-family:”calibri”,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font:=”” minor-latin;mso-fareast-font-family:calibri;mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin;=”” mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:”times=”” roman”;=”” mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;mso-ansi-language:en-au;mso-fareast-language:=”” en-us;mso-bidi-language:ar-sa”=””>Winged reproductives or alates are the future kings and queens of new nests. They have a well-developed cuticle, compound eyes, and two pairs of usually dark brown elongated membranous wings of equal length. Alates disperse in large numbers from mature colonies, usually in warm humid weather.

The alate flight starts when they emerge from a purpose built slit in the mud nest or through slits made in either wood or bark. These slits are often referred to as flight cuts and soldier termites generally congregate around the opening to prevent entry to the nest by natural enemies of termites.

Generally in Perth termite nests will be located in underground, in tree stumps, or even in mounds located in tree branches. Specialist knowledge will be required to locate these nests. Above ground mounds have rare incidence in Perth.


Where are alates found?

<span “font-size:11.0pt;font-family:”calibri”,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font:=”” minor-latin;mso-fareast-font-family:calibri;mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin;=”” mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:”times=”” roman”;=”” mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;mso-ansi-language:en-au;mso-fareast-language:=”” en-us;mso-bidi-language:ar-sa”=””>In Perth, alate flights usually occur in either the November-December or March-April time periods which avoid the outright summer heat. The best conditions for alate flights are generally before or after a storm when there are moderate temperatures and high humidity.

<span “font-size:11.0pt;font-family:”calibri”,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font:=”” minor-latin;mso-fareast-font-family:calibri;mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin;=”” mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:”times=”” roman”;=”” mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;mso-ansi-language:en-au;mso-fareast-language:=”” en-us;mso-bidi-language:ar-sa”=””>Alates are known to be weak fliers and their wings are often found within spider webs or other areas around the home. The wings will be equal size, differing to that of flying ants.<span “font-size:11.0pt;font-family:”calibri”,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font:=”” minor-latin;mso-fareast-font-family:calibri;mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin;=”” mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:”times=”” roman”;=”” mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;mso-ansi-language:en-au;mso-fareast-language:=”” en-us;mso-bidi-language:ar-sa”=””>

What should I do if I find alates at my home?

Most alates that leave a nest will not form a new termite colony. Alates most often will become the prey of birds, lizards, dragonflies etc., and you will often see them attracted to a light source. If they do not find a mate and suitable environment, they will die off without ever onwardly breeding and this is generally the fate of the vast majority of the alates.

A pair of de-alates, which is a description of alates that have dropped their wings, will then proceed to start a nest generally in soil or decayed wood. The termite pairing will then excavate a chamber for the purposes of breeding and the queen will subsequently lay a small number of eggs. It usually takes years for a newly-formed termite nest to have the capacity to cause significant structural damage to a home.

<span “font-size:11.0pt;font-family:”calibri”,sans-serif;mso-ascii-theme-font:=”” minor-latin;mso-fareast-font-family:calibri;mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin;=”” mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:”times=”” roman”;=”” mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;mso-ansi-language:en-au;mso-fareast-language:=”” en-us;mso-bidi-language:ar-sa”=””>However, if alates are found then there is a high probability that an established termite nest is in close proximity to your property. This is due to the poor flying capacity of alates. Regular inspections of your property should therefore be carried out, and consideration should be taken as to a perimeter treatment being carried out. You should also inform your neighbours as to your discovery, as the termite nest may be located at their property, or even damaging their home.

Author: Lewis Flatt – Cap-It-All Building Inspections, servicing the Perth Metro Area

What is Concrete Honeycombing & do I need to fix it?

Concrete honeycombing is derived from the appearance a concrete slab because it resembles the honeycomb nests created by bees.

What causes concrete honeycombing?

Concrete honeycombing is usually caused by a few common factors, including:

  • A lack of integrity at the perimeter form-work boards at the time the concrete is being poured.
  • Improper cement to water ratio that causes poor workability.
  • Poor consolidation practices or inefficient means of vibration.
  • Improper reinforcing bar placement at vertical and horizontal grade beam transitions; leads to poor concrete fill.
  • Over-sized aggregate or poor sampling.


Can concrete honeycombing damage my home?

In general terms concrete honeycombing is a cosmetic condition that is only found in the exterior areas of the concrete pour.

However, if honeycombing is left untreated in areas of possible moisture penetration, serious structural conditions such as concrete cancer could occur. Concrete cancer is the rusting of steel reinforcement from within the concrete forcing the layers of rust to push away the concrete surrounding it. We recommend that honeycomb be immediately repaired in areas of high exposure to moisture, and regularly monitored in areas adequately protected from weathering.

How is concrete honeycombing repaired?

Assuming that the area of honeycombing is isolated to the exterior face of your foundation a relatively minor repair can be undertaken. The repair itself consists of a few basic steps, but should nonetheless be undertaken by someone that is competent and knowledgeable about the procedure. The common approach includes:

  • Isolate the affected area by removing layers of honeycombing until suitable concrete is exposed
  • Thoroughly clean the area to be repaired and remove all dirt and loose aggregate
  • Wet the cleaned area prior to applying non-shrink grout
  • Texture and colour should then be matched for aesthetic finish


Author: Lewis Flatt – Cap-It-All Building Inspections, servicing the Perth Metro Area

Thermal imaging inspections – why are they important and what do they find?

Thermal imaging is a technology that is not used by all building inspectors. This blog looks at why thermal
imaging is important and the types of defects that thermal imaging may help identify around a building.


Why use an inspector that utilises thermal imaging?
The Australian standard AS4349.1 Inspection of buildings
Part 1: Pre-purchase inspections – Residential buildings states that a pre-purchase building inspection is visual only. As such, it is often difficult to accurately identify certain building defects without the aid of specialised equipment. The Australian standard also states that the inspection is not intended to include rigorous
assessment of all building elements in a property. As the average inspector will be inspecting a property for
anywhere between 1-3 hours, it is not plausible for them to individually test every roof timber in the roof for
example. This is why thermal imaging is essential to the inspection process. Additional defects can be identified before they cause significant structural damage, and more of your home can be assessed in the time that the
inspector has on site.

How does thermal imaging work?
Thermal imaging is a measurement of the surface temperature of a material. A simple demonstration
is as follows:


A mug with hot water. Everything seems normal.


The thermal camera catches details we can’t see with the naked eye.
The mug was recently moved to its current
location. We can see the mug’s previous
position as the area has retained some of the heat.
This basic principal of thermography allows us to detect changes in temperature within building elements, such as hot water running through plumbing pipework or water leaking onto roof timbers.

What can a Thermal Imaging Camera Detect?
A thermal imaging camera can assist in the detection in many defects around a building, especially areas of
excessive moisture. Common defects that may be identified include:
Roof Leaks
Water will find its way through the smallest of perforations within a roof. Additionally, even if a roof perforation is identified visually, the damage caused by the leak may in fact be several metres from where the perforation was identified. Thermal imaging can assist in identification of the leak as well as an assessment of the areas affected and the damage caused. For example, let’s say a cracked roof tile has allowed water to leak onto a rafter in a
timber roof. The water may have run down the rafter and affected the roof battens supporting the roof tiles. In this instance the inspector would identify the leaking area with the thermal imaging camera, use the sounding tool to assess the area of moisture damage, and confirm the state of decay with a moisture meter. The
inspector’s expertise combined with the inspection aids ensures that adequate analysis has been carried out. If the roof timbers are found to be in a state of decay, this is a structural issue and may have saved you thousands of dollars in repair work prior to moving into the property. As the roof battens are also quite small in size the
decay that they have suffered may indicate that the weight of the roof tiles may cause collapse. Decay also works in a capillary action, and as such the damage may spread prior to collapse, which may result in tens of thousands of dollars in structural damage as well as risk of injury to occupants within the building. The example above is just one scenario in which roof leaks can be found to cause a structural issue, as many other scenarios may require further investigation. For example, if in the same scenario a small perforation is present in a building with a steel-sheet roof, how long would the decay spread before the roof actually collapses? The cost of
re-roofing could escalate dramatically prior to this defect being identified.

Shower Leaks
Ever seen the skirting board at the back of the shower beginning to ‘bow’ away from a wall backing onto a shower recess? Chances are this is due to a shower leak. This may not be considered a structural issue when an inspection is conducted, although the cost to remedy a small leak in a shower recess could save you money in the future. Additionally, even the smallest of shower leaks can result in the excessive moisture levels causing mould growth beneath the surface of the walling, which could have adverse health effects to your family.
Unfortunately this is an extremely common defect that we find when inspecting homes around Perth, and
although it may not immediately threaten the structure of the building, it should be rectified nonetheless.


Defective or Missing Insulation
As building regulations and compliance guidelines continue to promote energy efficient homes, often the
installation of energy efficient products deter the results of the desired effect. This is particularly the case with insulation. A thermal imaging camera can detect areas where insulation is missing or poorly installed. For
example, often insulation is not tucked into the corners around the external of the building where the cornice is located, and as such the building is not adequately insulated. Additionally, an electrician may have installed downlights and to achieve the necessary clearance of insulation just pulled it back as opposed to installing downlight covers. In this instance it may prove cost effective to obtain a price from a suitably qualified person to make the necessary upgrades and increase the energy efficiency of the home. This is especially applicable to Perth residents due to our hot climates and increasing energy bills.


Termite Identification
Termites may have travelled undetected up the cavity of the building, and straight into roof timbers, and as such the damage they are causing would be unidentifiable to the naked eye. As termite workers continue to digest the timber within the building, their bodies omit heat. As such thermal imaging may assist in the
identification of termite damage. Upon this finding, our inspector will use a combination of the Termatrac T3i as well as a sounding tool to further investigate the presence of termites. Termite identification is a skilled task, and termites are notoriously shy creatures, so care must be taken to engage an adequately qualified and equipped
inspector to undertake this task. Most recent figures indicate that the average repair cost for termite damage to a home is $7,000, and that at least 1 in 4 homes in Australia will be affected by termites.

The above list is not exhaustive and is merely an indication of the capabilities of thermal imaging.
Thermal imaging is a growing technology and its uses continue to grow. For example, as well as being used in the building industry, it is also used in areas such as plant and mechanical engineering, and has even been used to spot medical issues and injuries by doctors and veterinarians in both human and animal patients.


Can Anyone Use a Thermal Imaging Camera?
The images that are displayed on a thermal image don’t always tell the full story. Reflected heat may give false readings, and certain building materials may require differing assessments. For example, differing interpretations may be required if assessing a roof covering with black roof tiles as opposed to a white steel-sheet roof. This is because the two materials have different emissivity values. The emissivity of a material is the relative ability of its surface to emit energy by radiation. It is the ratio of energy radiated by a particular material to energy radiated by a black body at the same temperature. A true black body would have an emissivity equal to one while any real object would have an emissivity less than one. Emissivity is a dimensionless quantity.

In general, the duller and blacker a material is, the closer its emissivity is to one. The more reflective a material is, the lower its emissivity. Highly polished silver has an emissivity of about 0.02.

If your inspector hasn’t been trained in thermal imaging and doesn’t understand these principals, then the use of their thermal imaging equipment may be rendered useless.


How Much Does a Thermal Imaging Inspection cost?
At Cap-It-All Building Inspections we see thermal imaging as an additional layer of customer service which
allows us to conduct the most thorough and efficient inspection possible. As such thermal imaging is
incorporated into all of our prices, and we will conduct investigations in all areas that we deem necessary during the inspection. Our price list can be found here, and enquiries can be made through our website here.
Alternatively, give us a call on (08) 9405 8710 and we would be more than happy to discuss your inspection needs.

Author: Lewis Flatt – Cap-It-All Building Inspections, servicing the Perth Metro Area

Drummy tiles – why does this happen & how can I fix it?

‘Drummy’ is a term used by building professionals to explain the hollow, drum-like sound emitted when a surface such as concrete, cement render, direct stick timber floors or tiles are struck by a sounding tool.
What causes drummy tiles?

There may be a number of reasons that tiles have become drummy or loose including:

  • Lack of adhesive originally used by tiler in the laying process resulting in the creation of hollow voids
  • Incorrect adhesive used by the tiler
  • Tiles not laid onto adhesive quick enough, affecting strength of finished bond
  • Incorrect preparation of substrate prior to laying of tiles. Examples include not allowing a concrete slab to fully cure or not sufficiently cleaning the substrate of dust and particles
  • Thermal exposure
  • Lack of control / expansion joints
  • Faults created in individual tiles in the manufacturing process
  • Timber Pest attack to substrate
  • Moisture exposure such as a burst pipe causing flooding
  • Tiled floors receiving traffic prior to full bonding strength being achieved
Does the identification of drummy tiles indicate a structural problem within my home?

Of the above causes, only two of the above dot points would be considered a structural problem within your home, namely timber pest attack and excessive moisture exposure. All of the other points discussed are likely to be the result of poor workmanship. We are lucky enough in Perth to have predominantly double-masonry homes, and as such timber pest attack is less likely to be a result of drummy tiles.

If a moisture problem exists, your experienced building inspector should be able to make an experienced judgement when assessing the cause of the drummy tiles. All of our inspections are aided by the use of a moisture meter.

It should be noted that drummy tiling will often still perform its intended function for a reasonable service life. Once drummy tiling is also present with cracks in the tiles, cracked and/or missing grout, or any deflection when loaded, it should be regarded as unlikely to perform its intended function in the medium to long term.

In all instances it is recommended that rectification be undertaken sooner rather than later, as if a structural problem does exist beneath the tiles surface, rectification could prevent the problem from spreading and potentially save you time and money in the future.


How do I fix the problem?

If the bulk of the tiled area has been affected then it is probably easier to remove and replace all of the tiles. If however only a small area of the tiling is affected, the tiles may be lifted, cleaned, and relayed. In both instances it is imperative that ALL of the old adhesive is removed and the surface correctly prepared prior to the laying / re-laying of the tiles.

Should you need to match tiles that have been damaged The Tile Library in Osborne Park are Perth’s largest stockist of obsolete and discontinued tiles. For matching purposes it is best to take a sample in where possible and consider the cost of the area that needs to be replaced in comparison to the area as a whole from a retailer (you may find it cheaper to sale your undamaged area to the tile library and replace the whole area with new as the ‘matching’ price can be quite expensive).

On some floors, where the tiles and adhesive are coming away relatively cleanly, the option of injecting a bonding liquid into the void is viable. Skilled operatives drill holes in grout joints and inject specialised liquids to re-bond the tiles. This usually provides a permanent solution to the problem, but is only available if the plane of the de-bonding is smooth so the bonding liquid can flow adequately.

Finally, there is a D.I.Y product on the market called ‘stick it’ by ‘shalex industries’ which has received favourable reviews. This is an injection method and is supplied with full project instructions.

Author: Mark Flatt – Cap-It-All Building Inspections, servicing the Perth Metro Area

First Home Owners – Use your super to buy your home

In one of our previous blogs we talked about the impending release of the intergenerational report and the discussions that are likely to be entered into surrounding housing affordability.
The first discussion is the effectiveness in allowing first homebuyers to access their superannuation for a home deposit. In our blog we look at some of the pros and cons of this policy becoming a reality.


  • As an apprentice bricklayer, I made minimal extra contributions towards my super as the government was matching my contribution at the time. However, this was more due to my boss at the time saying I would be stupid not to make extra contributions as opposed to a concerted effort to increase my super fund. It is not until the last few months that I am beginning to regularly assess my super, and I would say that not many young people would monitor their super on a regular basis. This would change if the goal of accessing super for a home deposit were introduced.
  • The ability for first homebuyers to reduce the LVR (Loan-to-Value Ratio) of their home loan, and as such minimise the cost of LMI (Lenders Mortgage Insurance).
  • First homebuyers are able to get off the rental treadmill earlier and reap the rewards of capital growth.


  • The implementation of this policy would introduce more buyers to a market with increased land supply issues.


It is great that discussions have begun in addressing housing affordability for first homebuyers. However, policies to ensure that supply is kept up with demand is considered crucial in addressing this problem, and care must be taken before any policies are implemented that may increase demand for housing.

Demand issues have decreased as of late in comparison to 2014. The number of loans to owner occupiers for the construction and purchase of new homes declined by 5.3 per cent and the number of loans to owner occupiers buying established homes, excluding refinancing, fell by 7.9 per cent, in comparison to January 2014 when assessing January 2015’s loan approval figures.

We believe this decline is partially due to the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority’s December letter to lending institutions outlining their intention to increase the level of supervisory oversight of mortgage lending. The letter detailed some specific areas of concern noting high LVR loans, fast growth in lending to investors, and mortgage affordability in a (future) higher interest rate environment. It remains to be seen if this has a long-term impact of lending from financial institutions. However, demographical data supports increased future demand in housing, so we believe that any perceived ‘credit squeeze’ will only represent a short term problem when evaluating Australian housing growth figures.

Author: Lewis Flatt – Cap-It-All Building Inspections, servicing the Perth Metro Area

Efflorescence, a cosmetic problem or a structural threat?

Ever wondered what that white powder is on your brickwork? This blog looks at what efflorescence is and whether it poses a structural threat.

What is efflorescence?

Efflorescence is a fine, white, powdery deposit of water-soluble salts left on the surface of masonry as the water evaporates.

Three conditions must exist before efflorescence can occur:

  • First: There must be water-soluble salts present somewhere in the wall.
  • Second: There must be sufficient moisture in the masonry product to render the salts into a soluble solution.
  • Third: There must be a path for the soluble salts to migrate through to the surface where the moisture can evaporate, thus depositing the salts, which then crystallize, and cause efflorescence.


Can efflorescence damage my home?

Generally efflorescence is a cosmetic problem. However, as stated above, there must be sufficient moisture content in a masonry product for efflorescence to take effect. Excessive moisture can contribute to many structural issues, such as rising damp or mould growth, & can even cause concrete cancer & foundation movement. If you are concerned that your home may be subject to moisture damage, it is always best to contact a suitably qualified inspector.

How do I remove efflorescence?

  • Firstly it should be noted that often the removal of efflorescence could be a laborious & ultimately unsuccessful task. The following methods may be recommended for removal of efflorescence:
  • Get the wall bone dry (where possible), and then try to remove the powder with a stiff brush. Lift off any remaining crystals with a damp sponge. This method is our recommendation for removal.
  • Water blasting & hosing may initially look good, although ultimately you have just added moisture to the problem & during the drying process the problem may increase.
  • Acids often state that they will clean off efflorescence although the efflorescence must be washed down before application, & as above the results may initially seem successful but you may have just restarted the cycle. We believe the inconvenience & danger to the user outweighs the likelihood of a successful outcome.
  • Alkaline cleaners could also possibly work although research suggests that the alkali content in Portland cement is a key contributed towards efflorescence, & as such there is a real possibility that you could be putting more salts into the wall.

Efflorescence will often be described as a ‘passing nuisance’, although as explained it indicates a potential moisture problem. If located in an area of little importance when exposed to moisture then efflorescence should be seen for what it is, a sign of life from a product made of natural, raw materials.

Author: Lewis Flatt – Cap-It-All Building Inspections, Servicing the Perth Metro Area

What causes water hammer?

Ever heard a banging or clanging when you turn off your taps? This blog looks at the causes and solutions of water hammer.
‘Water hammer’ can be identified as pipes that bang, clang and vibrate when you turn off your taps. As well as being extremely noisy, water hammer can cause water heaters, joints, seals and connections to fail, and taps to leak.

What causes it?

Water hammer is a shock wave of high water pressure in the pipes, caused by the sudden closing of a valve. The water does not compress, but crashes into the closed valve again and again, creating a loud hammering noise. The valve eventually disintegrates within the piping system. There are several common causes of water hammer, including:

  • Poor pipe installation
  • ‘Flick mixer’ taps (Typical example shown opposite)
  • Faulty tap washers
  • Solenoid valves on appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines
  • High water pressure


What are the solutions?

  • Instead of ‘flick mixer’ taps that shut the water off suddenly, choose ‘soft close’ mixer taps with a built-in shock absorber system.
  • If vibrating pipes occur in a particular area, for example the kitchen, it may help to replace plastic or ceramic tap washers with brass tap washers. Ceramic washers can break easily, and when that happens you may have to shut off the water at the mains and call a plumber to repair the tap.
  • Install taps with washers that can be easily replaced, minimising the cost of replacement should the need arise.
  • Install water hammer arresters on washing machine taps. Often the solenoid valve in washing machines causes the pipes to rattle and clunk.
  • Reducing your water pressure can reduce water hammer. Call a plumber and have a ‘pressure limiting valve’ or water hammer arrester installed.
  • Check with local water authorities for regulations.

We must note that all plumbing works must be undertaken by a licensed plumber. In Western Australia it is illegal for non-certified plumbers to perform any kind of plumbing works.

Author: Lewis Flatt – Cap-It-All Building Inspections, Servicing the Perth Metro Area

Summer Property Forecast – A perspective from the Building Industry

At Cap-It-All Building Inspections we regularly receive industry updates from our membership partners such as the MBA & HIA. Both industry bodies have recently expressed their delight at the success of the building industry over the past 12 months, although many concerns have been raised at the lack of policies that have been implemented to sustain a healthy economic climate within the building industry.
How is the building industry performing?

At national level, the most recent new home building activity has become the success story of the Australian domestic economy. An impressive 195,936 new dwelling commencements are forecast for 2014/2015, which would represent growth of 7.7 per cent and cap a third year in a row where new home construction has increased in volume. Renovations investment has also shown signs of recovering, with a 0.5 per cent gain from a ten-year low of activity in 2013/2014. Renovations investment is forecast to grow at a faster pace of 2.8 per cent in 2015/16 and 3.2 per cent in 2016/17, bringing the total value above the $30 billion mark again for the first time since 2011/12.

In WA new dwelling commencements increased 21.1 per cent during 2013/2014 to 29,853. A projected decline of 14.4 per cent in 2014/2015 would take commencements to 25,552. Activity is forecast to decline over subsequent years. During 2013/2014, WA renovations activity declined by 7.9 per cent. Activity is projected to decline again in 2014/2015 by 4.7 per cent, before rising by 5.2 per cent in 2015/2016. This result would leave the value of the state’s renovations market at $3.89 billion.

Sounds great. Boom times ahead?

The phrase ‘boom’ has certainly been used when describing the new housing market, and it is true that this sector is performing well beyond the initial forecasts. However, the speed at which the housing market moves is in contrast to the implementation of reforms & policies deemed essential in keeping Australia’s standing as ‘the lucky country’ (Since the establishment of the OECD’s Better Life Index Australia has consistently been placed at the top of the pile). The building industry in Australia faces many challenges in the coming years, especially in housing our aging population & ensuring land supply pressures don’t continue to mount.

It is expected that interest rates will stay low for the rest of the year, with speculation of another rate reduction, but is another reduction really going to help? A rate reduction is always welcome, however this may result in more property transactions without addressing the real issues. As an indicator of land supply pressures, the national land supply market declined by some 16.7 per cent in the September quarter whilst price growth accelerated 3.3 per cent. Often land price pressures result in an increase in both building & land price, adding further unnecessary cost to the Australian people.

What is being done to ensure the building industry addresses the issues that we are facing?

The RBA (Reserve Bank of Australia) Governor Glenn Stevens has backed the MBA’s calls in addressing housing affordability to ensure that first homebuyers are not locked out of the housing market. The MBA released an eight-point Affordability Plan in August of 2014, which they continue to lobby. Hopefully now the MBA has received the full support of the RBA governor the affordability plan will begin to be implemented.

At a state level amendments are being considered to the State Planning Policy 3.1, as the policy continues to go through a stage of transition. The successful implementation of the Residential Design Codes (R-codes), as well as the ease of builders acquiring planning permission for buildings compliant with the R-codes are seen as essential in addressing the forthcoming problem of housing Australia’s aging population.

With the Intergenerational Report set to be released in the near future at a federal level, we look forward to the clarity that will be provided in our current economic outlook, as well as the debates ensued and reforms proposed as a result of the release of the document. We also hope that the document is well levelled, as speculation continues to mount the document may be used to suggest ‘we’re all doomed and need re-election to fix the problems given to us’.

Ultimately the policies and codes that are being implemented are attempting to combat the pressures currently placed on the Australian market through limited land supply and an aging demographic. Whether policy implementation relieves the current pressures surrounding land supply and achieves success in housing our aging demographic remains to be seen, we can only hope the release of the intergenerational report triggers action at a federal level.

Author: Lewis Flatt – Cap-It-All Building Inspections, Servicing the Perth Metro Area

Roof Movement; Undulation of Under Purlins

Often a clear sign that the load placed upon the roof cover is not adequately supported is the undulation of the under purlins. So what does this defect look like and how is it rectified? The following blog explains:

Within a coupled roof framework a load is transferred in the following manner:

  • Upon the roof cover;
  • Held by the roof battens;
  • Supported by the rafters;
  • Held in place by the under purlins;
  • Supported by the struts;
  • Which transfer the load to the foundations via strutting beams or positioning on load bearing walls.


What is undulation of under purlins?

Undulation is defined as “a regular rising and falling or movement to alternating sides; movement in waves.” This movement is immediately identifiable to suitably qualified inspectors and any movement identified indicates that remedial works will be required at some point.


Will undulation of purlins always indicate a major structural issue?

No, not always. For example, undulation may be minor and could be the result of excessive loading due to extreme weather conditions such as a storm. Timber is a natural material and as such a certain amount of movement is deemed acceptable, and in the example of the storm a couple of the rafters may have pushed the under purlins down, although this is unlikely to re-occur. However, should any undulation be identified, regular inspections should be conducted to ensure that movement is not the result of under-engineering to the strutting system or poor workmanship in strut spacing compliance.

Do I have to replace sections of my roof that show undulation?

No you don’t. A typical method of rectification is the use of a bracing system to ensure that the undulation of the under purlin does not continue. This bracing system, is the diagram shown, is commonly bolted between two struts and the handle is tightened until adequate support is applied below the under purlin. The main advantage of this form of remedial works is that it is often far more cost-effective than other forms of rectification and can usually be undertaken by a roof carpenter without the need of demolition or creation of access provisions. However, the disadvantage is that the installation of these systems is not conventional work for many roof carpenters and as such it is recommended the following steps be taken:


  • Ask in which sector do they perform the majority of their work; You want to engage a trade that specialises in renovation, alteration, or repair work, as a roof carpenter that primarily works in the new-build sector may not understand the necessary requirements of the task at hand.
  • Ask them if they have done this kind of work before.
  • Ask if they are willing to provide any certification for their work; often many trades will be reluctant to sign trade work agreements and will not provide certification for their work. At the bear minimum ensure that they carry public liability insurance and check their ABN is active on ABN look-up.


What can I do to ensure the job has been adequately completed?

Get a building inspector to take a look at the work undertaken and ensure that regular inspections are undertaken to ensure that movement of the under purlins has not continued. It is always advised a suitably qualified inspector carry out this task. After the work has been completed, areas that should be monitored include:

  • Check that the bolts are securely fixed and that the timber has not split around the bolts due to excessive strain place upon the under purlin.
  • Check that there are no moisture issues within the roof structure; Moisture may cause timber decay or rust to the bolts, which may deem the bracing system inadequate and cause failure.
  • Check that the struts are still functioning as intended; Struts may move over time and should always span the full width of the plate or area they are supporting. The load that struts transfer may also begin to cause sagging to strutting beams or cracking to load-bearing brickwork.


In conclusion, although undulation of under purlins is a sign of movement to the roof structure, it does not necessarily mean that the roof is about to collapse or that expensive works are required to remedy this defect. However, depending on the severity of the undulation, caution should be taken, as failure due to this defect is a very real threat. In most instances due to the cost of this work in comparison to the threat, it is recommended that bracing systems be installed and regular inspections are undertaken to ensure minimal chance of failure to the roof structure at your home.

Author: Lewis Flatt – Cap-It-All Building Inspections, Servicing the Perth Metro Area

The NCC is free & Coming Soon!

The NCC is free & coming soon….

The National code of construction, also known as the NCC, is the minimum standard of safety, health, amenity, and sustainability for buildings across Australia.

Future online editions, commencing with the NCC 2015, will now be made freely available to registered users commencing with access to a free preview of NCC 2015 (both online and in PDF) prior to its adoption date of 1 May. Users will be able to access NCC 2015 Volume One, Two, Three and the Guide to Volume One, along with a new stand-alone document that contains the Performance Requirements extracted from the NCC.

To register for access to the NCC 2015, please click here.

HIA are also producing hard copies of the document. Enquiries on obtaining this document should be directed to their email address.

A key change within the formatting of the documents is that a Performance requirements extract of the NCC will be made available as a separate document. We will use this blog as a brief overview as to what a performance requirement is & how to best use the documentation that is to be freely available.

What is a performance requirement?

Performance requirements are the only legal requirements of the NCC and set the minimum level that buildings, building elements, and plumbing and drainage systems must meet.

How is a performance requirement satisfied?

There are two options to satisfy the performance requirements, a prescriptive solution (also known as meeting the deemed-to-satisfy provisions), or a performance solution (also known as an alternative solution).

What is a prescriptive solution?

These solutions are known to directly meet the deemed-to-satisfy provisions stated within the NCC, which clearly states what, when, & how to do something.

What is a performance solution?

Also known as an alternative solution, a performance solution is unique for each individual situation. These solutions are often flexible in achieving the outcomes and encouraging innovative design and technology use. A performance solution directly addresses the performance requirements, and will need to include some form of expert judgement and analysing by the appropriate regulatory authorities.



Often a performance solution will require extracts taken from referenced standards from within the NCC, which unfortunately still require purchasing, at around $2,400 for an annual subscription to the standards in which the NCC references.

Nevertheless, we are still delighted that this document has been made readily available as it landmarks an important step by the Australian Building Codes Board to increase awareness, knowledge & availability of building codes.

Once the NCC becomes officially adopted we will release a post on the major changes in comparison to 2014, until then, happy reading!

Author: Lewis Flatt – Cap-It-All Building Inspections, Servicing the Perth Metro Area