Did you know that your house can move? Don’t worry! It’s not like your house can jump several feet. But of course, your home or commercial building can experience differential footing movement over time. These movements can cause serious cosmetic damage and in some cases, structural failure. Most people usually do not notice the differential movements of their house’s footings until they start to notice the effects of the movements, such as structural cracks in walls and lack of general structural integrity.
What causes the foundation to move?
There are several factors that can cause the footings of your house to move. It can include the presence of trees, poor site drainage, leaks, droughts. Sometimes a combination of these factors cause the movement. The real cause of movements in the footings of your property roots to the moisture content of the foundation soil.
In Melbourne particularly, the foundation clay soils are generally reactive soil. This means that the soil is moist and clay-like in texture, which causes it to swell when it absorbs water and shrink when it loses water. For example, trees suck the moisture out of soil. This causes reactive soil to shrink. Also leaks increase the moisture in soil. All these are leading the soil to swell. Over time, properties build on reactive soil undergo differential footing movement due to these moisture variations. Any minor footing movements are completely normal and not a cause for concern. Large footing movements, however, can cause serious structural damages . . .
So how can you assess the severity of your property’s footing movements?
The answer is floor-level surveys. A floor-level survey is a crucial forensic structural engineering service. It helps forensic engineers to form an objective and accurate opinion about the proximate cause of the differential footing movements. When the senior forensic engineers at MFS Engineering carry out a floor-level survey, they use the ‘Zip LevelPro-2000’ tool. Using this tool, they measure the footing movements, which boasts an accuracy of +/- 2mm. A 2D plan of the property is then created, which allows the floor-level readings to be recorded and contour lines to be drawn accurately. Once the contour lines are drawn on the 2D plan, it goes under review by an expert. Highly trained and experienced forensic structural engineers will study the contour lines. They then determine whether the foundation soil has undergone ‘settlement’ or ‘heave’. This can help identify the cause of the property’s foundation soil movements.
Floor-level surveys are an integral aspect of the forensic investigation process, which is why they are always included. MFS Engineering solutions are only formed after a detailed and thorough investigation. We look into every possible cause of structural failure and cosmetic damage to property. However, you are simply in need of a floor-level survey and have no use for a comprehensive structural investigation report. In this case, contact us and we can have that arranged for you in the blink of an eye.