Home' Sunraysia Daily : property28012017 Contents Pr pertyGuide 11
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Home owners across Australia
have been urged to check and
monitor their homes for cracking
as the temperatures rise with an
increase in hot days placing heat
stress on buildings, especially in
areas where there is drought or
continuing low rainfall.
Archicentre, the building design and advisory
service of the Australian Institute of Architects, has
also issued a warning for brick walls and fences
on housing or commercial property boundaries.
These structures can also be affected by foundation
movements with the soil drying out and the wall
developing cracks or leaning, creating a danger for
pedestrians and a serious legal problem for owners.
A sample of 12,000 of Archicentre’s pre-purchase
inspections between 2010/2015 revealed that 57 per
cent of solid brick homes had minor cracking with
five per cent having serious cracking. Brick veneer
homes inspected had 49 per cent with minor cracks
andthree per cent with serious cracks. The nation’s
weatherboard homes had 47 per cent with minor
cracks and three per cent with serious cracking. This
was a noticeable increase in all categories compared
with the 2001 to 2009 period indicating that current
dry conditions were beginning to take a heavy toll on
Australia’s housing stock.
Homes with serious problems requiring expenditure
of over $10,000 on repairs is estimated at three per
cent of Australia’s 9 million homes, representing a
repair bill of over $2.7 billion.
Archicentre Director, Michael Jones said, “With
the traditional summer temperatures having already
removed moisture from the soil, the continuing high
temperatures in autumn, plus the lack of rainfall in
many areas, means moisture in the ground will be
further changing and could have a major impact on
“Homes in older suburbs and those with a lack of
maintenance and existing cracking are high priorities
for monitoring and are the properties most at risk.
This can be increased if large trees are close to the
building as they also remove moisture from the soil.
“When the soils dry out strain is placed on the
buildings’ structure and cracks can appear overnight.
“The removal of moisture from clay soils causes
shrinkage and can place stress on the home’s
foundation which is indicated by cracks appearing in
brickwork, internal plaster work or tiled areas such as
the shower recess.”
Mr. Jones said that it is important for home owners
not to panic if a crack appeared, however, it is
important to monitor any worsening of the situation
and to get independent professional advice if it is
of a structural nature. Any major works such as
underpinning are expensive and can cost from $10,000
to $50,000 or more.
“In many cases cracks up to 5 millimetres in
brickwork could close up once the soil regained
moisture content. One of the most efficient ways of
avoiding cracking in brick and brick veneer homes is
to plant a flower bed adjacent to the brick walls and
ensure that just enough water is applied to keep the
plants healthy. This will also stabilise the soil around
More serious cracking might need some form
of structural repair. Cracks appearing in the family
home or in an investment property can be extremely
stressful and worrying for people and it is better to get
professional advice on the issue quickly, Mr Jones said.
• Cracks appear in walls or worsen.
• Doorways shift with doors sticking.
• Floorboards creak and become more uneven.
• Cracks appear in tiled areas of kitchens and
• Cracks appear in driveways and footpaths as the
soil dries and the trees roots remove moisture.
• Pipes and roof are damaged, causing leaks when
rain returns damaging interiors.
Mr Jones said that home buyers needed to pay
particular attention to ensuring that their prospective
purchase was not showing early signs of cracking
because it could become a huge liability in a short
period of time.
Houses under heat and drought stress
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