Townhouses with movement of their foundations,

How foundation movement in townhouses can be overlooked by building inspectors, if they are not prepared to look at the building exterior.

Identified by Peter Weddell, owner/operator of Qld Home Buyers Inspection Service and Queensland Building Inspection Service, QBIS.

Townhouses with foundation movement

Here is movement of a brick pier was taken in the same location on separate occasions.

  • First photo was taken in 2009 and the second in 2017.
  • This is strong evidence that it has not stopped moving.
  • The only speculation is, how far will it continue to move in the future?

Movement of townhouses caused by its foundations

Sagging of the roof above this balcony is in a different location of the complex.

  • The closer roof is sagging considerably from movement of its brick piers.
  • The balcony in the background has not moved, this allows for a comparison guage.

A horizontal gap to this pier (just above the bearer) shows how much it has moved sideways.

  • This bearer must be properly supported below it. The Bolt will rust over time and allow the bearer to drop.

More movement to another brick pier of the same building.

This brick pier has moved away from the bearer it is supposed to be supporting.

Problems & rectification:

  • Movement: Underpinning-Reinforcing of footings supporting the piers.
  • Improper securing and support of bearers: Ends of the bearers must be supported by the brick piers or steel columns. They were bolted to the brick piers. When the bolts rust, the bearer will not be supported.
  • Undersize piers: The brick piers should have been larger enough to allow reinforcing and concrete filling within.

Recommendation: Replace footings and brick piers with galvanised steel columns onto reinforced concrete pads.

Foundation movement in townhouses.

Important notes:

Ask a building inspector if they look at the common grounds of a unit block (where possible). These problems are what they are likely to miss if they don’t, this can prove to be costly for a buyer!

Related information, link:

QBCC Qld Government Homeowners guide on subsidence

For independent Building Inspections Brisbane in all suburbs, Qld Home Buyers Inspection Service.