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Tips & Tricks

Beware Underpinning Rip-off

I was staggered this week.

It was just unbelievable.

A client came to me for a second opinion about a quote to underpin his residential property in Queensland. The quote was from a local builder for 25 underpins to an approximate depth of 2.5m in order to ‘stabilise a single level house.

The quote was based on an engineer’s assessment. A geotechnical engineer had also attended and provided the results of a soil investigation. Both good signs.

So on the face of it, everything seemed legitimate. However, once I dug deeper the justification for spending so much money was very thin.

Very thin.

So very thin.

So how do you, as a homeowner, evaluate a quote for underpinning from a builder and determine if you’re likely to get value for money.

Let’s go through my independent assessment process together.

Categories
Tips & Tricks

Solving Drainage Problems for Houses on Sloping Blocks

Have you got a house on a sloping block with drainage problems?

The queries we get go something like this:

Hi. My house is on a sloping site (slopes from the back towards the front) and water gets in under our house when it rains. The ground under our house gets wet and then takes ages to dry out. Sometimes the water gets into the downstairs rumpus room, storeroom, laundry, garage slab (pick one or two!).

How can I stop water getting under my house? Should I use an ag pipe and or should I install a better drain?

Categories
Tips & Tricks

Cornell Engineers and Palmview Homes Mackay

Palmview Homes Mackay creates the highest-quality house and land packages, new homes and investment properties.

This year, 2020, Cornell Engineers is pleased to celebrate 14 years of providing structural engineering design and drafting for Steve and the team at Palmview Homes Mackay.

This has been a relationship forged on trust, accountability and integrity and we are super-proud of our longstanding working relationship.

Cornell Engineers and Palmview Homes started working together during the development of Palmview Village – Mackay’s premier retirement village. The village wanted stylish, low-maintenance and well-built craftsman homes. Cornell Engineers was able to assist with compliant engineering designs and in-person site inspections during construction that ensured all the boxes were ticked.

A perfect relationship was born.

The high standards of quality home construction soon found a demand in a wasteland of knock-them-up high maintenance and low quality builds that were popping up in Mackay as it thrived.

People who wanted highly liveable homes that exceeded the minimum standards of design and were built by tradespeople very familiar with the requirements and demands of building in a cyclonic area soon heard of the quality the team at Palmview Homes were providing as standard.

So thank you for trusting us Palmview Homes. We look forward to continuing our great teamwork well into the future.

If you are looking to build a quality investment home in the Mackay area and you think that the home should be well-designed and wee built, give Steve and the team a call on 0417 212 218. Live life your way with Palmview Homes Mackay.

Categories
Tips & Tricks

CoronaVirus Forces New Work From Home Rules

The coronavirus is taking a toll on our current, daily lives. We’ve been introduced very rapidly to the ideas of self-isolation, social distancing and the work from home concept in a bid to limit the spread of the virus.

We already understand that the virus spreads rapidly and that it is very important that we limit the spread of the virus so that our medical systems aren’t overwhelmed.

The changes that we’re accommodating, including the opportunity to work from home (even in organisations that never previously allowed it), are vital but will more than likely have the effect of making people feel isolated and alone.

Categories
Tips & Tricks

What is a Spoon Drain in Residential Construction

Today I’m talking about spoon drains, why we use them to improve drainage around a house site and what a spoon drain looks like.

Join Matt Cornell for an introduction video into Spoon Drains

Video Transcript

G’day. This is Matt Cornell from Cornell Engineers.

Today I want to talk about “What is a spoon drain?” and I’ll give you a detail for a spoon drain.

What is a Spoon Drain?

A spoon drain is a concrete drain formed in line with the ground surface and its purpose is to collect stormwater before it can soak into the ground.

Stormwater falling on the ground beside the spoon drain is directed towards the spoon drain and the bottom of the spoon drain then is sloping and takes the water away before it can soak into the ground.

So this is a concrete spoon drain.

The spoon drain width, when we specify it, is about one meter wide.

The thickness of the concrete is somewhere between 80 to 120 millimeters deep and the thickness around the edge is deeper because we need the shape of the spoon drain is maybe 120 to 150 millimetres.

Concrete Spoon Drain Reinforcement

The reinforcement we use is fairly light reinforcement. In Australia, we’d probably use an SL72 which is seven millimetre bars at 200 millimetre centres in both directions.

A spoon drain, because it’s concrete and because concrete shrinks, is going to need something to control the cracking. At about 2 metre centres we’re going to specify tool joint just so the concrete has somewhere to crack neatly without causing any alarm with uncontrolled cracking.

Spoon Drain in the Ground

So that’s a concrete spoon drain but sometimes we also specify a spoon drain just in the ground which is just a natural overland where, when it rains, water falls to the middle and then can drain sideways.

Normally we’ll set these up to collect stormwater before it can soak into the ground. Then we use spoon drains to carry the water along and discharge it clear of a building or downstream of a building.

Why Spoon Drains are Better than Grated Drains

We prefer spoon drains over box drains or grated drains is that they’re a lot easier to keep clean.

Any leaf litter that falls in this area or dirt is fairly easy to keep clean and a lot of the time just rainwater, stormwater will wash a lot of that debris.

Grated drains can fill up with rubbish, with leaf litter, with dirt and they’re a lot harder to maintain. So we like spoon drains because they’re just easier to maintain. In fact, they’re not really something that needs to be maintained.

Spoon Drains vs Ag Drains

The reason we like spoon drains, well in fact, the other kind of drain that we talk about a lot is agricultural drains and these are ag pipe drains inside a gravel trench.

These are a different kind of drain and we don’t really use Ag drains where we have water already on the surface.

So the spoon drain is really good for surface water – taking away surface water before it can soak into the ground.

An ag-drain, on the other hand, is really good for collecting water that’s already soaked into the ground. Maybe the water is coming from a neighbor’s property or from uphill somewhere.

So an agricultural drain is great for collecting water that’s already in the ground and taking it away.

A spoon drain is used to collect water that is on the surface of the ground.

Thank you for Joining Us

I’m Matt Cornell. This has been our quick talk about spoon drains with a spoon drain detail. We talked about why we use spoon drains instead of grated drains and agricultural drains. I hope you were able to take something away from this.

Get Your Spoon Drain Designed

Now you know why we use spoon drains. Do you need help improving the drainage aro0und your house?

We’d love to help.

We have experience in:

  • Preventing or minimising water coming through basement walls.
  • Re-routing stormwater away from buildings.
  • Solving water entry issues through retaining walls.

What sort of drainage issue do YOU have that needs solving?

Drop us a line on our Get a Quote page and let us know where you live, what drainage issue you are trying to solve and how we can contact you.

Get a Quote