We recently attended an exclusive lunch and learn event, hosted by William Daly from Helifix, to learn about their newest product. It was a great presentation that we all benefited from as it is a product that works as another underpinning solution for subsidence issues, so we wanted to share our learnings about the product with you.

What is the product?

Helifix Micro-Piles system provides structural support to a building’s foundations using a small pipe pile that is attached to the edge of a slab using a steel bracket. Helifix Micro-Piles were developed to provide property owners with a more cost-effective and a less disruptive alternative to mass concrete underpinning for structural issues caused by soil subsidence. Helifix Micro piles are ideal for structures that have limited space, restricted access or environmental concerns as opposed to conventional options for underpinning.

How do Helifix Micro piles work?

Helifix Micro Piles provide property owners with a cost-effective and a minimal disruptive solution for structural support to a building’s foundation damaged due to soil subsidence compared with other underpinning options. Soil subsidence can be caused by multiple factors including: 

Shrinkable clay soils

As soil under a structure reduces due to loss of moisture, it can no longer provide support for the foundations and soil subsidence occurs and as a result, can cause structural issues over time. Moisture loss can occur due to dry weather and removal by vegetation in the area of the structure.

Soil washout

As a result of heavy rain or broken and leaking pipes, the soil underneath a building can be washed away, resulting in soil instability and possible structural issues requiring underpinning.

Soil consolidation

When an extension to an existing building is constructed, soil consolidation caused by the additional weight of the new structure can result in soil subsidence. Different types of soils across a site can lead to different rates of settlement which can also result in soil consolidation.

Concentrated loading

Every building has different loadings which can affect the foundations and cause structural issues. Concentrated loads are when a structure’s load is applied to a small area in the foundations, rather than over a larger area. Examples of concentrated loads could include roof loads, environmental factors such as wind or snow and internal renovations.

The effects of soil subsidence on a structure can be mitigated by using the Helifix Micro Piles System. Following a detailed assessment of each situation and other factors such as cost constraints and site considerations, engineers install Micro Piles to support the structure’s foundations. Micro Piles are installed by:

  1. Excavations are dug at the foundation locations of the Micro Piles which is determined before work commences. The amount and spacing of the Micro piles are determined by the soil quality and extent of the structural issues.
  2. A small recess for the Micro Piles top bracket is cut in the building’s slab to ensure that the slab is fully supported by the Micro Pile.
  3. The Micro Pile is installed by `screwing’ to a depth that provides stable soil, and a specified bearing capacity is achieved. Micro Piles are installed to be placed centrally to ensure loads are spread evenly on the Micro Piles. The Micro Pile’s bearing capacity is continually monitored as installation progresses and once capacity is reached, the pile is cut off approximately 250mm above the existing building’s slab.
  4. Adjustable support brackets are installed to the top of the screw pile and placed under the structure’s foundations.
  5. The brackets are lifted until the load of the structure is applied to the micro pile.
  6. Once the micro pile installation is complete, the excavation area is refilled fully concealing the Helifix Micro Pile.

To learn more, visit their website: https://www.helifix.com.au/

What causes cracks in the walls of a home?

Typical causes of wall cracks include:

  • The house settling
  • Trees in close proximity to the home
  • Reactive soil
  • Water damage
  • Structural/design issues

Although the sight of cracked walls or architraves may be quite alarming, it’s actually very common.

The most common places for wall cracks are above doors and windows – this is because these are the weakest points of the wall. If the cracks appear to only be hairline cracks, they can be easily fixed with filler and repainted.

Settling in houses is especially common with new builds, this is because the timber used in the house frame often contains moisture and it can move slightly as it dries out, these cracks from settling are often very thin and vertical.

The Australian climate also, unfortunately, contributes to cracks in walls, our hot dry summers and lack of rainfall leads to the soil shrinking and moving and this places strain on the home’s foundation.

Whilst trees around the property are a beautiful feature, it is often not realised the damage that root systems can cause to homes. Trees with large, complex root structures can spread too close to the house’s foundations and lead to movement. Roots also change the water levels of the soil which can lead to instability within the soil. Before removing a nearby tree from your property you must also take into account that trees root system, removing a tree too close to the home can also change the water levels and stability of the soil.

When should I be worried about a crack in my walls?

If you notice any discolouration around the crack, you should immediately look to investigate. Discolouration around a crack can be a tell-tale sign of a leak somewhere within the walls, to fix this the source of the leak must be identified and the affected wall will need to be replaced to avoid further damage.

If the cracks are larger than a hairline, you should look to have them inspected. Large cracks (larger than 5mm) can indicate a structural problem. The shape of the crack can also shed light on the cause, a crack that appears in a zig-zag pattern can be an indicator of a structural issue as it is following the mortar line in the bricks.

Be sure to take photos and document the cracks in your wall as you notice them, this will be a good indicator of whether the cracks are getting worse or if they are staying the same.

If the wall crack seems like more than just a cosmetic issue, you should call an expert to investigate as soon as possible. The longer structural damage is left untreated, the harder and more expensive it is to fix.

Before trying to fix cracks or damage in your walls yourself, be sure to contact a structural engineer. Residential Engineering offers structural inspections in New South Wales, if you are worried about the cracks in your walls, call us today.

 

There are many stages in the home construction process, and our team at Residential Engineering is certified to ensure that each home is being constructed structurally correct at various stages during construction.

The common goal in all parties in home construction is to make sure that the home is built safely and in accordance with Australian Standards and the NCC, ensuring you have a beautiful, completed home with no structural issues now or later down the line.

Residential Engineering has a renowned reputation for consistently high-quality work, and our experience guarantees that the results you receive will have been done by our team of professionals. With numerous site engineers attending inspections daily, all projects we are working on receive inspections at every stage of construction.

The main types of inspections we carry out include:
• Pier inspections
• Slab inspections
• Structural steel inspections
• Prepurchase property inspections

Ensure peace of mind that your home has been inspected every step of the way – contact Residential Engineering today!

 

The rapidly growing population has been identified as one of the more immediate issues that most major Australian cities are set to face, with the population projected to reach 50 million by 2066. As current infrastructure construction is struggling to keep up with this growth, it is apparent that current methods of city planning need to change.

As reported by Infrastructure Australia, the Australian Government when developing cities have a tendency to develop outwards rather than consolidate, which leaves these communities poorly designed and often lacking in necessary communal services. These suburban communities are also removed from the majority of work found in the cities, and there is a growing demand to live in the inner cities to reap the social and economic benefits that cities have to offer. With this in mind, we are now seeing the dissatisfaction with ‘suburban’ and the need to turn to ‘urban’. Community dissatisfaction is far from the only consequence of this poor planning – the report finds that urban sprawl will place further pressure on road congestion and will cost an additional $20 billion by 2031 ($18.9 billion to $38.7 billion).

This trend is evident across the majority of Australian cities with Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth failing to keep up with population demand and infrastructure growth whilst absorbing three-quarters of Australia’s growing population. As previously mentioned, there needs to be a shift from ‘suburban’ to ‘urban’ by further investing in high rise and unit development to consolidate and centralise cities. This will help satisfy the social and economic needs of the Australian people whilst providing a viable, sustainable and affordable solution to future housing issues. Fortunately, we are starting to see these changes as unit development is becoming increasingly popular.

We at Residential Engineering have been involved in numerous developments of this kind, providing a range of professional services including Structural Engineering, Geotechnical and Energy Services and Surveying. With our team of professionals behind every design, we strive to work with innovation and precision to provide the best for our clients.