0

Maintenance and Repair of Older Buildings in South Australia

Anyone that owns an older house in SA should really have a read of this guide written by the Department for Environment and Heritage.

It has some very informative text and illustrations in regards to salt damp, cracking, ventilation etc.

“One of the two most common sources of dampness in old buildings is rising damp – moisture that rises
up from the ground into the base of masonry walls. When this moisture contains high levels of dissolved
salts, the problems of rising damp are compounded by salt attack. The action of the two together is
commonly known in South Australia as salt damp.

This is perhaps the single most destructive force at work against old buildings in South Australia.”

It also has a routine maintenance guide that you can follow during the different seasons.

maintenance_repair_older_buildings_in_south_australia

1

Does your property have inadequate drainage?

TOO MUCH WATER?

Too much water in part of the garden is a problem that affects many gardeners. The problem can be a constant one where it occurs all year round or it may be seasonal. It might be that the stormwater drains into one corner of the yard resulting in at best moist soil and at worst a complete bog. It may be just a low spot that collects all the water from the surrounding area. Whatever the reason, there are ways of turning a boggy or wet area to your advantage. Some plants thrive in wet areas, and with the right plants you can still achieve an interesting and attractive garden in a wet area.

What can cause wet areas in your garden?

  • Leaking pipes.
  • Waste water from your house that is drained into your garden.
  • Rising water table (e.g. particularly from over irrigation in rural areas) or naturally occurring springs
  • Water from surrounding properties may drain into your garden. This could be naturally occurring or may result from your neighbours diverting water, either intentionally or unintentionally, from their property into yours.
  • Low areas or depressions provide a site for water to collect. The water could be from rain water, garden irrigation, etc.

Problems with wet areas or inadequate drainage

  • High levels of moisture around the house increases the possibility of structural movement and or subsidence in the footings.
  • High moisture also increases the risk of a possible termite infestation.
  • The presence of stagnant water can be a health hazard. It can also be very smelly.
  • Access is restricted (e.g. you can sink into muddy areas)
  • Visually the area may look quite ugly. It may also be quite messy for kids and animals (fence off or plant so densely that access is restricted).

OVERCOMING PROBLEMS WITH BOGGY OR WET AREAS

Wet areas can be overcome in the following ways:

  • Prevent or reduce the amount of water reaching the garden. For example blocked drains can be repaired, leaking pipes can be fixed, stormwater diverted elsewhere, etc.
  • Fence off, or plant trees and shrubs to screen the area off. This can prevent access to the wet area as well as blocking it off visually. It doesn’t however, fix the problem.
  • Improving drainage

For heavy clay soils:

  • Dig in lots of organic material (e.g. mulch or woodshavings). As this decomposes it improves soil structure and nutrition, helping drainage as well as increasing the soil’s capacity to absorb water.
  • Add gypsum or Multicrop’s clay breaker. These products open up hard soils allowing better drainage.
  • Install drainage pipes to take the water away.

For low spots:

  • Dig organic matter into the soil to help absorb excess water and improve soil structure.
  • Create a sump pit at the lowest point (see section on creating a sump)

Raise Levels or Fill Depressions

Get an earthmoving machine in (or do it by hand if it’s not a big job) and change the levels of your property so water drains away instead of collecting in any one part. Build a raised garden bed on the surface of the ground.

  • Plant with water loving plants, 
    • If the area is always wet
      • Use plants which like a continuously wet soil, and do not mind being waterlogged at times (e.g. Iris, Papyrus etc.). Spread a 4 – 5 cm layer of coarse sand or pebbles over the surface to restrict the growth of algae or any other putrid smells
    • If the area sometimes dries out:
      • Create a bog garden by digging out the area, lay a double thickness of black plastic, fill with a good quality, highly organic compost then plant with bog plants.
      • Use plants which tolerate or even like being waterlogged but will tolerate some drier periods.
  • Build a pond and drain surface water into the pond.

IF YOU HAVE NOWHERE TO DRAIN TO

Often the home gardener will find that they have nowhere to drain excess water to. One way of overcoming this problem is to dig a sump. Try to avoid placing it near other pipes, drains, etc. The technique for creating a sump is as follows:

  1. Excavate a hole approximately 1 m wide x 1.5 m deep. The soil removed can be used elsewhere or discarded.
  2. Fill the hole to within 300 mm of the surface with coarse material such as  rubble, rocks, etc.
  3. Lay your drains so that they terminate (discharge) level with the top edge of the rocks.
  4. Add a layer of 150 mm of sand, then fill the remaining part of the hole up to ground level with a good quality sandy loam or loam soil.
  5. Plant lawn or other plants over the excavated area.

 

http://www.acs.edu.au/info/gardening-news/home-gardeners/wet-gardening.aspx

0

Eyes Wide Open

It is OK to fall in love with a house, but I really think that this should be done after you have had it inspected.

Attending open inspections, one after the other can start to become a drag or you may have found what seems to be your perfect home in just a few weeks, but I think it is very important to keep your eyes wide open throughout the entire process.

The following is quick guide for you to follow when attending open houses.


The first thing to look at when you arrive at the house is the slope of the block, does it look like water is draining towards the house? Drainage issues can cause movement and cracking of the foundations.

Landscaping is also important, is there paving around the perimeter of the home? Are there large trees near the house? Think of the damage a tree root can do to the pavement or footpath, they can do similar damage to the foundation of the home.
The leaves from the trees can block the gutters and downpipes causing them to rust and the water to overflow back into the eaves (part of a roof that meets or overhangs the walls of a building).
Where does the stormwater go? Are the downpipes connected to stormwater drains or is the water being discharged adjacent to the footings? Once again this can cause movement and cracking.

Cracking of buildings is a major problem in Adelaide for two reasons: first, large areas occupy expansive soils (mostly black and red-brown clays); second, many dwellings are solid masonry because of a local timber scarcity, and solid brick houses are more prone to cracking than timber-frame brick veneer structures.

Building Inspection Adelaide

Source: AdelaideNow

This is just the first part of the Inspex Inspections blog, stay tuned for more informative reading with regards to Building Inspections in Adelaide.

Start typing and press Enter to search