Irwin Structures forensic engineers Melbourne


residential buildings defects and disputesThe type and variety of residential construction has expanded greatly in recent decades. Houses and apartments can nowadays be built of a huge variety of construction technologies in many different configurations.

There has been more technical development than it appears: Footings can be driven piles, screw piles, continuous flight auger or bored piers, conventional strips amongst others. Slabs can be waffle pod, conventional raft, suspended or even post tensioned and these are just the elements you don't see.

The standard brick veneer suburban house remains of fairly consistent construction and gives rise to few problems beyond those related to foundation movements.

Medium density and multi unit construction of recent times gives rise to a whole new range of problems, particularly those related to water proofing and quality of concrete works. As land values have risen underground carparks have become more common and with them a whole range of problems.


Melbourne's historic buildings are generally of consistent construction and those that have survived are generally of higher quality.

Unfortunately solid looking historic construction is often nothing of the sort; footings of unreinforced masonry and walls of solid masonry lack both strength and flexibility thus cracking is a major problem and most of it structural.


Being close to owners' hearts, residential projects are over represented in building disputes. Unfortunately the construction industry has lagged behind many others in meeting consumer expectations.

The industry recognizes that a built product cannot have the perfection of a manufactured product and perceived defects are not necessarily redeemable faults. Even some structural faults, such as minor cracking, are formally defined as acceptable by relevant standards.

It seems unlikely that residential buildings will return to the standardized configurations of the past, that building deficiencies will cease or that consumer demand will relax so contention over building faults and the need to resolve disputes will continue.

A dispute is best resolved by expert evidence that aligns as closely as possible with the likely determination of a court. If both sides have such advice it remains only to finalize agreements to resolve a dispute.

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