Top 10 Most Misinterpreted Terms in Structural Repair

8 July 2019
By Terry

Structural repair is hardly a new industry nor new concept, but in recent years, the phrase “structural repair” has become almost commonplace. From apartment owners to strata management through to commercial building managers, when people want something repaired as often as not they label it as a structural repair item and not general maintenance.

Strictly speaking, the structural repair is a technical term used in construction and engineering. It is generally incorrect to use it as a synonym for terms like renovations or home improvements.

However, due to the fact this activity involves repairs of all sorts, people almost immediately assume that it means the same thing. It is, after all, making changes to a building, apartment, or any property to align its construction and condition to existing health and safety standards.
But what does the term structural repair really cover? To help people understand what terms to use and when we have put together this rough guide on what various terms mean.

Term 10: PT

It is neither physical therapy nor physical training. Technically speaking, PT stands for post-tensioned concrete, one that undergoes the process of prestressing. In this procedure, steel is stressed through pulling or some tension before the concrete is poured.

Term 9: Podium

While we know this term as a raised platform for use of a speaker or a performer, in construction, a podium refers to the lower part of a building that holds an upper superstructure of a different building type, usually between two to five storeys.

Term 8: Exposure

Although defined as the state of being exposed to contact with something, exposure is a special term used in roofing. It refers to the portion of the shingle that is exposed to the weather, which is usually less than half of its length.

Term 7: Flashing

This does not insinuate the intermittent blinking of a shiny, bright light but rather refers to the materials—usually metal—used to prevent water from leaking through joints in walls or in roof penetrations like vent pipes and chimneys.

Term 6: Collar Tie

Albeit corporate, or formal-sounding, in the structural repair industry, a collar tie is not at all related to a necktie attached to one’s clothing. It is a beam that runs parallel to the ceiling joists but a little bit higher, connecting to rafters in order to reinforce the roofing foundation.

Term 5: Cover

The cover is a layer of concrete found between a wall, column, beam or any other surface and the reinforcing bar closest to it. It is used as a protection against corrosion brought about by environmental damage, and as thermal insulation for fire protection.
In Australia, building code requires it to be between 15-78 millimetres, as indicated under the AS:3600 Concrete Code.

Term 4: Plate

No, this is not the plate we use for eating and one where food is served. In the structural engineering world, a plate is a metal steel sheet used as a construction material. It is usually sold in various sizes, up to 4ft by 10ft and used to connect beams, columns, and braces.

Term 3: On Grade

This term is nothing fancy. It simply means on the ground level.

Term 2: Settlement

The settlement is the term used when a building’s foundation sinks and settles into the ground. Settlement happens over a long period of time, usually triggered by badly compacted soil on the ground or poor drainage.

Term 1: Deflection

Deflection, as a structural repair term, is very different from deflection as a sporting tactic or psychological word. Here, this refers to the amount of bending or sagging that a structural element (a floor, foundation, among others) can handle when loads (for example people, heavyweight) are applied to it. It is basically how a structural element reacts to a heavy load.

Whilst the above list is far from definitive, it does give you an indication into the various terms which are used in this specialised industry. If there are other terms you are unsure of, or have heard bandied about by builders and want to know what they mean, feel free to get in touch with us.