When should a Remedial Engineer be consulted

12 February 2021
By Jeff Anderson

Engineering is a diverse discipline. Covering everything from fluids, to aerospace, to chemical engineering, to structural and even building remediation, engineering is part of everyday life. So, it should come as no surprise that you cannot just rely on any type of engineer when it comes to getting assistance to determine the rectification required on your building. In this blog we cover the importance of using a structural repair specialist with an understanding of building remediation.

What is Building Remediation?

Remediation of structures and significant upgrade construction is a relatively new field in the building and construction sphere. Remedial building specialists are for the most part licenced as General Engineers or General Builders. Remedial work takes on all parts of hazardous waste management, along with the remediation of unsafe waste.

Remedial engineers in Sydney are increasingly been in demand given a number of factors:

  • They have considerable expertise and experience in developing designs for repair of structures,
  • Sydney has a number of older buildings that still have aesthetic appeal, yet which need some TLC upgrades.
  • A general builder is not qualified to know what the impacts of changes or structural damage may have on a structure. Given the large change in building processes and materials over the decades, a qualified engineer is often needed to determine the ideal building remediation required, and/or the structural requirements necessary to ensure building safety.

Areas of Expertise

Above and beyond the above list, the thing you need to know about structural engineers, is that their professional skills extend beyond the structure itself which is where they really come into their own and offer more than just builders. In fact, an engineer should be utilized where you notice any of the following:

  • 1. Slope instability & land slippage near your building;
  • 2. Rock falls & cliff destabilization near your building;
  • 3. Cracks within retaining walls or basements
  • 4. Cracking of buildings & other structures due to settlement, and / or shrink swell movements of the foundation soils;
  • 5. Dampness of buildings rising up from the ground
  • 6. Rust stains and /or concrete which is coming away;
  • 7. Windows or doors which no longer sit square; and
  • 8. Surface & subsoil drainage.

With any of the above identified, it is our strong advice that you contact a building rectification specialist. Engineers and structural experts have the capacity to identify damage to a structure that has failed, or land that has caused damage posing a danger and risk to individuals and property. They will examine the cause(s) of damage that has happened to a structure(s) or building and once determined, develop designs, specification and plans required for the necessary repair works.

To undertake cost-effective repair works, the investigations preceding the design and specification of the maintenance and repair works should be cautiously undertaken, with significant factual documentation by specially trained structural engineers with an understanding of building remediation.

A WORD OF WARNING : A building report or documentation of noted issues does not constitute a specification for rectification.

When should a Remedial Engineer be consulted?

Structural repairs and rehabilitation

This process involves reconstruction and/or upgrading and renewal of a structure or its structural elements. This includes determining the origin of distress, eliminating damaged materials and causes of distress and, choosing and applying appropriate repair materials that extend the life of a building or structure.
Structural strengthening
Countless structures and buildings were developed during the first half of the 20th century using reinforced or prestressed concrete materials. As a result, many of these structures have begun to degrade (even if only a little) to the point where they require upgrades in order to extend their planned service life. Commonly this may involve, deterioration in the form of steel corrosion, concrete cracking, and spalling.

Additionally, many of these structures were built to carry loads that are significantly less than current needs. In this instance, engineers are required to evaluate and implement effective and economical repair and strengthening programs.

The crux of what we are trying to say is this: Builders have their place, painting teams have their place and plumbers have their place. But each of these professions has their limitations. If one of these trades are on your site, and discover broader issues – such as rust on structural elements, they are likely not going to be able to do the correct level of work to fix this properly. Nor are they going to be able to obtain the right insurances (such as Home Warranty Insurance) to ensure you are covered. Where the work is beyond the skills of a tradesperson, make sure you ask for the assistance of a qualified professional – a structural repair specialist.