Stay on the surface

New software developed by RMIT could help you avoid structural damage in your builds caused by soil moisture changes.

Structural damage caused by inadequate adaption to soil movement has been widely reported throughout Australia. As clay expands and contracts in response to changes in moisture caused by cold winters and hot summers, the soil is prone to significant movement throughout the year.

In response to this growing concern RMIT University, in collaboration with Intrax Consulting Engineers Pty Ltd, has developed a software program called SURFACE. The software is designed to help engineers ensure new homes are built with enough flexibility to withstand soil movement caused by seasonal change.

‘There are many uncertainties in the current [Australian building standards] guidelines, often resulting in rough estimates of site-specific demand loads,’ says Dr Srikanth Venkatesan, RMIT lead researcher.

 

The lack of reliable, site-specific predictions costs Australia an estimated $1.8 billion every year in damage.

Current estimates indicate that 80 per cent of all significant structural damage to properties in Melbourne are due to the inability to withstand the unique demands of each site. As Australia’s fastest growing state, Victoria’s population is projected to reach between 7.5 million and 7.9 million people by 2027, creating demand for around 40,000 new homes per year that need to adaptable.

The lack of reliable, site-specific predictions costs Australia an estimated $1.8 billion every year in damage. These damages often lead to legal action between homeowners and builders. 

Srikanth says SURFACE will provide engineers with additional data to supplement the Australian building standards code.

Intrax are already using the application with positive results. Geotechnical manager, Scott Emmett, says it will positively impact the pockets of homeowners and builders by improving the accuracy of surface reactivity calculations.

‘With SURFACE we are reducing the conservatism in design, helping home builders to confidently construct more affordable homes for Australian families,’ he says. 

Srikanth says he hoped the SURFACE application will help engineers ensure future housing is stronger and more adaptable. 

 

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