Cornell Engineers THURSDAY MORNING BRIEFING 7 February 2019

Good morning everyone. I’m Matt Cornell, this is Barlee Cornell and this is the Cornell Engineers Thursday morning briefing for 7 February 2019.

Barlee’s Injury Cloud

Barlee’s under a bit of an injury cloud at the moment. She’s hurt her rear leg. We’re off to the vets this morning so I’m running a little bit late.

Andrew Mackenzie has Resigned

So today we regret to announce that Andrew has resigned from Cornell Engineers. He finishes up at the end of February. Andrew joined us in 2015. It’s been great working with you Andrew. We’ve both learned a lot in this time and we wish you well in your future career.

Our Thoughts are With You Townsville

This morning we’re turning our thoughts to the people of Townsville and North Queensland mopping up after the massive amount of rain they’ve had up there and the flood, the flooding. Our thoughts are with you guys. Stay safe. If you need us we’re willing and able to come up to Townsville and help out with engineering assessments and rectification work and we’re standing by. You let us know if you need us.

Upcoming Trip to Middlemount

We have an upcoming trip to Middlemount and Emerald. Might have mentioned this a couple of weeks ago but it hasn’t eventuated yet. In any case that’s a job that is coming out very shortly.If you’re in Middlemount or Emerald areas and you need a structural engineer we’ll be in town in the next month or so. Give us a call or drop us a line on the on the website and let us know if we can help. If it’s an inspection I’m sure we can slot you in.

The Value of Soil Tests in Diagnosing House Movement

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about the value of a soil test in diagnosing house movement. We regularly get homeowners calling it up and saying, “I’m looking for an engineer to help me fix cracks in my house. Do I need a soil test. How do I go about fixing my house.” So there’s already a lot of information on our website about fixing cracks and diagnosing cracks.Soil testing can be relevant especially if a house is suffering subsidence where the ground underneath the house is soft and loose and the house is settling down. The soil test is really handy to identify the depth of the firm soil that the house should be founded on and how deep the footings need to be and how far apart they need to be so the house can be supported on the firm soil. So that we can lift it back up if necessary, which is called underpinning, and stabilising the movement.

If the house is outside QBCCc insurance in Queensland, or the statutory warranty period in anywhere in the world, the value of the soil test diminishes. If the movement is due to reactive clay movement, swelling and shrinking, and the house is reasonably old and has existed for 20 years or more then the value of the soil test diminishes rapidly as far as I’m concerned. It can tell you how clayey the soil is, which doesn’t really help you in the footings have already existed for quite a while. It doesn’t tell you how wet or dry the soil is which doesn’t really help you after awhile because rectification, for houses moving due to clay movement is best achieved by achieving a dry regime.

A soil tester will help you identify whether there’s areas of wet and dry soil or varying soil moisture but at the end of the day it all comes down to trying to dry out the soil as much as possible to do stabilise a house right around the house by improving drainage,removing the effects of boggy areas, dripping taps, by improving, repairing and locating broken pipes and fixing them and eliminating the extra drying effects of trees.

So we have a few tools in our tool bag to solve these issues as engineers but at the end of the day the soil test on an old house might tell you how wet or how dry the soil is but it doesn’t really change the effect in that you’re trying to achieve as dry soil around the outside of a house as possible.

If the house is less than six and a quarter years or is still covered by insurance or maybe even builders’ insurance that changes significantly because the soil test can be used to determine whether or not the original soil test was accurate, whether or not the engineering design was compliant with standards or good practice. So if the soil test, independent soil test, shows that the original soil test was was wrong, that it maybe under-estimated the depth of fill or the classification of the soil, how clayey the soil is, it gives you an idea of how much work is required to get that house back to a level where the house is performing adequately and homeowners can live in it without too much stress.

Today’s Shout Outs

So our shout outs today, I wanted to say a big hello to Made and his team at Ulin Villas in Seminyak, Bali. Made we’re coming to see you soon, Deb and I, so we’re really looking forward to that. Very excited to be going back to Bali for another holiday and looking forward to hanging out at Ulin Villas again.

So that’s our first shout out. Our second shout out is to Pat Murray, he is my first boss, my mentor. He’s a structural engineer at Glynn Tucker Consulting Engineers in Townsville. Fantastic bloke. Wonderful engineer. We’re thinking about you Pat, particularly with floods and the rain and the storms you’ve had in in Townsville and I hope you’re well. Hope you’re safe, and hope everything’s going well for you.

Finally I want to say g’day to David from Whitehouse Builders. Dave’s been a long-term associate. We’ve worked with David when he was a foreman site foreman up in Mackay and we were doing inspections on the industrial sheds and warehouses up there. Since we’ve both been back in Brisbane I’ve done a couple of jobs with David. Great bloke, really like working with you David and can’t wait to do some more work for you.

Thanks for Joining us

So that rounds up our Thursday morning briefing everyone. Thank you very much for joining us.

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