Tuesday  August 11, 2020
Professional indemnity Insured and Licensed Company ABN: 20 054 540 395 ACN: 054 540 395


We give more expert building advice
We give more expert building advice
Established 42 Years

Information for clients and building students

  • Building Diagnosis Centre summary of our building consultants’ common and major findings of construction problems, faults and defects that cause water penetration, spalling concrete damage and deterioration of building materials that occurs in coastal properties in Sydney Australia. Our clients are advised of these and many other defects are listed in our inspection reports.

“Information I have prepared is given in good faith as a guide for laypersons regarding building defects and issues. If you require any explanation please do not hesitate to contact me”

  • Prepared by Robert Speirs-Ferrari FAIB, NBPR, MMBA, MBDA, AfillIEAust, at Building Diagnosis Centre – a forensic investigation expert and building consultant with 42 years of combined study, practical and technical experience.  (CV under Downloads)

This information identifies as well as recommends solutions useful for non-technical property owners and their property managers experiencing water penetration and spalling concrete damage and issues in the following properties – 

  • heritage to contemporary residential strata units;
  • commercial strata offices;
  • local government infrastructure;
  • shopping centres and carparks;
  • churches and schools;
  • swimming pools (leaking cracks and spalling) and
  • multilevel masonry and concrete strata apartments.


  • Leaking waterproofing membranes and flashing issues due to failed, defective, damaged, faulty waterproofing and or construction materials.
  • Spalling corroding brick walls, sandstone block walls, concrete floors, concrete roofs, concrete balconies, concrete terraces, and concrete block foundation walls in coastal properties and in basement buildings, underground carparks and city garages.
  • Movement cracking of concrete slab roofs, and masonry brick walls and concrete foundations.




For non-technical readers, waterproofing failures and concrete failures occurring in coastal environments eventually cause structural deterioration to interior concrete floors topped with magnesite, and to external balconies, terraces, roof slabs, façade, beams and columns, including major structures i.e. bridges, carparks, grandstands and much more.

  • Damage Evidence, for non-technical readers, include –
    • Cracking of any size from hairline to wider more noticeable cracks in any structural concrete and masonry components elements.
    • Spalling concrete “exploding off’’ building components/elements as the structural reinforcing steel embedded in the concrete expands when contaminated with rust corrosion (from water-soluble salts migration).
    • Early warning signs are hairline cracks and brown rust stains emanating from concrete surfaces as the structural reinforcement steel is corroding inside the concrete material.
    • Water and white calcium efflorescence staining seepage from tiles to terraces, balconies, stairs and cracks
    • These early warning signs are commonly identified by building owners to balconies and terrace slab floor edges, to the soffits, façades and carparks to areas where people usually have access to or view.
    • Other more noticeable early warning signs are water staining and blistering to painted and rendered façades, interior surfaces at the base of walls, against doorways to terraces and balconies, from top of walls roofed by a concrete slab terrace or concrete slab planter boxes and gardens.
    • Solution to waterproof concrete against corrosion and stop moisture ingress –
      • AQURON 7000 Link – http://markhamglobal.com.au/15-reasons-aquron-7000-reinforced-concrete/
      • This waterproofing system is a 2-step spray applied penetrating corrosion protection treatment. That transforms free moisture in concrete to a hydrogel formation throughout the concrete matrix.  Multi-benefit treatment for concrete:
        •  eliminates moisture migration –  the transport system for corrosion;
        •  starves processes eg – Alkali Reactivity, Delayed Ettringite Formation, and Sulphate expansion;
        •  limits the availability of Oxygen –  is the fuel of corrosion;
        •  chloride ingress is prevented –  long-term protection;
        •  binds and purges existing chlorides –  that aggravate corrosion;
        •  increases resistivity of concrete –  decreases galvanic activities;
        •  enhances concrete strength –  enhances hydration in new concrete;
        •  overcomes incipient anode formation –  preventing costly remedies;
        •  prevents carbonation –  protects the concrete surface;
        •  waterborne solution and 100% VOC free –  Aquron is environmental friendly;
        •  proven 25-year track record –  warranted performance.

    Common Reasons For Concrete And Waterproofing Damage Reported By Our Building Consultants Includes:

    • In New Building Construction
      • Concrete installation not as per industry practice
      • Water added at the site can weaken the strength of concrete
      • Concrete not compacted satisfactory leaving air pockets that later attracts moisture ingress thus corrosion
      • Insufficient concrete protection cover over structural reinforcement steel that also later attracts moisture ingress thus corrosion of the embedded steel
      • Cracking occurring due to omitted steel reinforcement and allowing water migration
      • Inappropriate curing methods and time frame to prevent early dehydration
      • Concrete is not kept wet for required curing
      • Plastic sheeting for curing not sealed to prevent concrete from drying
      • Spray-on curing solutions not applied and or improperly
      • Not preventing rain and hot weather to the concrete
      • Formwork settlement
      • Premature loading of building materials early on fresh concrete slabs
      • Corrosion from soluble salts and water migrating together with carbonation contamination
      • Failures of protective coatings, waterproofing membranes and flashings, and faulty work.


    • In Post-Construction Works Prior / During Building Remedial Works:
      • Incorrect assessment of the property condition
      • Incorrect and or lack of proper design specifications
      • Inexperienced tradespeople and or onsite supervisor performing the work
      • Waterproofing materials and or methodology not reassessed when faced with changed building conditions to conditions initially
      • Materials not thoroughly mixed i.e. exposure grade cement mortar for bricklaying, rendering, liquid waterproofing primers/sealers and final protective paint coatings
      • Faulty workmanship and materials – liquid protective paint coatings and waterproofing applied too thin, not sufficient coats and or short life expectancy of the material
      • Materials not having sufficient time to cure/dry before continuing with the work
      • Inexperienced building engineering inspecting consultant or “fast in and out” inspections
      • Inspections missed at the critical stages and or before work is covered over
      • Waterproof flashing omitted and or damaged whilst constructing into walls and to windows/doors, and or using incompatible materials
      • Water and physical testings omitted to allow defects to go undetected
      • Waterproofing systems damaged after inspections due to other following trades.

    Disputed Defect Building & Construction Work – Our Building Consultants Processes To Rectify Damage:

    •  Construction work complaints, disputes etc. are usually disagreement between the head contractor and client owner, includes sub-contract builders and material suppliers –
      • Complaints and disputes are normally handled by the project consultant expert as issues are usually of a technical nature. External consulting experts are also called in.
      • Group meetings onsite allow parties to discuss the issues, and the experts narrow down the issues that may resolve or allow the issue to continue.
      • Independent building engineering and design experts’ reports that includes proposed remedial works are issued that may also resolve or allow the issues to continue.
      • Costing the required remedial works follows and parties seek advice usually from specialist building dispute lawyers.
      • If the dispute is not settled, a homeowner or strata owner make a complaint to the NSW Fair Trading including notifies insurance with or without their lawyer. Whilst a commercial client owner seeks their lawyer for court proceedings.
      • Both lawyers and project consultant experts often advise settlement before “Costs” get out of hand but this depends on the issues in dispute.
      • Fair Trading and courts look at the evidence and make a decision for both parties.
      • However both parties prior “out of court” also have the benefit to make their own decision with the assistance of their building consultants and legal advisers. This is a strong recommendation.
    • Issues also commonly occur with respect to disputes in strata home and commercial properties ie; disagreements between owners regarding the work, the interference with the flow of the works and costs including the often variation for additional required work, occurring between strata owners. This causes conflict with the “parties to the building contract”. Advice from consultants strongly urge strata owners to keep the “troublemakers” well away from the works as projects often “go off the rails” in these situations.
    • Prior to a building engineering design consultant preparing remedial works specifications and scope of works documents including drawing etc., either for CTTT or court proceedings to establish the required rectification of defective work, first requires certain forensic investigations especially when defects are caused by concealed failed waterproofing systems, and to enable contractors to tender for all required works to avoid variations (extra work) during the contract stage –
    • Physical invasive investigations occur by removing bricks from walls, lifting tiles from floors, balconies, terraces, roofs etc, and cutting inspection openings to ceilings to explore and locate sources of water ingress, corroding and cracked concrete, to test, inspect waterproofing membrane damage to determine conditions and if full replacement is crucial or spot rectifications.
    • Invasive investigations often occur to concrete/brick parapets and balustrades including inside cavity walls built against balcony aluminium sliding door frames that often leak as concealed non-waterproofed wall flashings junctions often not sealed to balcony/terrace floor membranes prior to installations of door frames and tiling.
    • More often than not, water ingress occurs at the base of walls and floors below adjoining ground levels and built against excavated embankments especially strata and commercial basement garages and carparks as access behind the walls for ongoing maintenance are not provided.
    • Building construction material samples are collected for research and testing at a recognised registered NATA laboratory. Testing will confirm if corrosive impurities have migrated from the coastal environment and if products/materials are faulty and have the required structural strength.


    •  Identification and assessment of building defects.
    •  Preparation of expert-format, litigation-compliant Building Defect Reports and Scott Schedules.
    •  Preparation of scopes of work and cost estimates for rectification of building defects.
    •  Preparation and submission of Home Owners Warranty insurance claims.
    •  Participation in building defect claims process including negotiation with contractors and developers,
    •  insurance companies and assessors, the OFT and other expert consultants.
    •  Participation in mediations.
    • Supervision of defect rectification work.
    • Investigation and diagnosis of remedial building issues.
    • Preparation of building diagnostics and engineering reports.
    • Formulation of cost-effective remedial building work rectification strategies and production of detailed work specifications for building repairs and upgrades including design, materials, methods, finishes and overall concept and design.
    • Incorporation of specifications into tender packages and management of the tender process.
    • Preparation and submission of Development Applications, Construction Certificates, Section 96s etc.
    • Preparation of Contract Agreements.
    • Contracts administration in a capacity of Project Superintendent.
    • Monitoring and assessing construction programs.
    • Assessing and processing Contractor’s invoices for progress payments, issuing payment certificates, determining the validity and assessing the costs of contract variations, extensions of time and changes to the contract etc.
    • Condition inspections of residential and commercial properties.
    • Specification of remedial or general maintenance works including associated cost projections.
    • Preparation of financial asset maintenance plans and associated cost estimates.
    • Case research preparation for litigation.
    • Occupational Health and Safety audits.
    • Pre-construction dilapidation surveys with post-construction follow-up.
    • Pre-purchase assessments for residential and commercial properties.


    Forensic Building Engineering Consultancy “Expert Opinion”

    If you require consulting expert assistance in forensic building engineering in strata home units and commercial buildings (and residential), Robert Speirs-Ferrari can personally attend to it including his consulting experts from multi-disciplines.

    • Building Diagnosis Centre Pty Limited specialises in reporting on deterioration, damage and building construction disputes eg:
    • Corrosion of waterproofing and membranes (especially coastal areas)
    • Spalling concrete explosion damage
    • Structural steel rust corrosion
    • Building movement cracking
    • Contract building disputes
    • Specifying rectification of defective and faulty work
    • Cost estimates for proposed remedial work
    • Administer remediation work contracts for clients

    Overview of our building inspection services and consultancy 

    • We regularly observe and diagnose general building damage and construction faults, and includes more in-depth assessments of poor workmanship, waterproofing concerns, spalling concrete cracking, concealed asbestos materials and sub-surface seepage water affecting foundations beneath buildings. Our building consultants design specification solutions for remedial works. We prevent waterproofing and building failures, assist with contract disputes and instigate or defend clients with home warranty insurance claims and commercial litigation court proceedings. We assist clients by recommending a selected list of remedial building contractors to the type of work required.
    • With extensive experience, knowledge and qualifications, our expert building consultants and building technologists resolve building and construction issue beyond our clients’ expectations when providing building inspection services. We bring to our client’s attention our concerns with latent defects. Our building consultants have a keen eye for detail, and holistic thinking is leading forensic experts to the building and construction industry. Our guarantee and insurance include professional indemnity protection.
    • Architects, building designers, engineers and building contractors seek our expert opinion evidence for building inspection services and expert reports. Our advice is given on rectification of waterproofing, subsurface seepage intrusion, rust corrosion of structural steel, spalling concrete cracking and corrosion damage, and corrosion investigation reports when ingress of water releases chemicals from strata floor magnesite material into strata unit concrete floors of 1960’s to 1980’s strata home units. We inspect and assess older buildings, industrial, factories and homes containing asbestos. When necessary, we develop an expert team of cross-discipline consultants for our clients and home-owners’ building construction matters and disputes. 

    How do our building consultants solve building faults?

    • Firstly, our building consultants are senior experts and the majority are accredited and chartered fellow professionals in the construction and building (housing)  industry to provide building inspection services. Building Diagnosis Centre consultants consist of building inspectors, structural engineers, building designers, forensic building experts, building technologists, concrete and brick corrosion consultants, building remedial specialists consultants, consulting asbestos inspectors, waterproofing consultants, tribunal and court forensic experts.  
    • Secondly, we specialize in construction inspections and building inspections services, forensic assessments and design to resolve building construction deterioration, faults and damage. We design for required remedial work, obtain costings from reliable remedial builders, certify building work during construction and on completion to ensure the work as per the building contract and statutory requirements. For dispute resolution consultancy services, we handle building disputes and building complaints including variations of costs and insurance claims assisting property owners, contractors and lawyers. Our forensic experts prepare Scott Schedule Reports for purpose of NSW Fair Trading NCAT and courts.

    What are our comprehensive property reports?

    • Building Diagnosis Centre provides building consultancy reports, building inspection reports, forensic expert opinion inspection reports and Scott Schedule Reports for NSW Fair Trading NCAT.
    • Our diagnostic reports cover a wide variety of properties whether they are new, older, faulty, damaged, under construction or still on the ‘drawing board”. Properties are residential homes, strata units, commercial and industrial buildings, structures, heritage schools and churches, retail and local government infrastructure.

    Our clients require reports on these most common building faults

    • Common complaints are failed waterproofing building faults, poor workmanship, premature deterioration and structural damage, coastal salt attack corrosion and suspected asbestos materials, cause building and construction worries and disputes. We offer our comprehensive building consultancy commencing with initial building inspection services.
    • We then provide diagnostic inspection reports for expert opinion evidence for tribunals (NCAT) and building litigation in courts in a jurisdiction of Local, District and Supreme Courts. Building Diagnosis Centre building dispute services assist strata managers, construction lawyers, solicitors and barristers for litigation and insurance claims and NSW Fair Trading home building insurance under the Home Building Compensation Fund.

    Strata property often requires consulting building experts, why?

    • Building Diagnosis Centre experts, forensic building consultants and building technologists look after the needs of consumers in residential strata units. This includes assisting strata managers and owners corporation with building faults and complaints. The most common being waterproofing issues occurring through walls, balconies, common property roof slabs and when ingress of water releases corrosive chemicals from magnesite material causing structural reaction with strata slab floors due to serious rust corrosion of the embedded reinforcement steel within the strata concrete floors and balconies.
    • Our expert waterproofing consultants building inspection services investigate the cause of waterproofing membrane failures to strata unit balconies and faulty waterproof flashing to windows and doors. We assure owners that our building waterproofing consultants can properly diagnose and specify the appropriate rectification of these waterproofing problems. We also recommend a list of experienced licensed remedial builders suitable for the required remedial work when we provide strata with specifications for remedial work.
    • Our expert building consultants provide building inspections to your property during the remedial works construction stage. It is our experience that strata balconies, terraces, windows and doors and concrete slab roofs are the prime construction locations that suffer faulty work and deterioration including water penetration. So we ensure our progress building inspections of faulty work under remedial repair continues during the construction process by our expert building inspectors and forensic consultants.
    • The most common strata deterioration in coastal properties usually occurs from the coastal environment and or the use of incorrect materials that cause rainwater penetration and building deterioration. Water penetration conditions are quite common with strata owners including commercial strata and their tenants inhibiting proper living conditions. Our building consultants are also very conscious to advise our clients of any asbestos material in their older properties when observed during our investigation inspections.

    What does our building inspection report contain?

    • Building Diagnosis Centre expert building consultants and building technologists undertake visual building inspections services to your property. These building inspections list building deficiencies, building faults, building damage and the reasons they occur.
    • Our building inspection reports include recommendations for required remedial work and sometimes further investigations to pinpoint the exact cause, particularly when we are providing specifications for required remedial work. Our further building and construction investigations consist of physical destructive forensic intrusion into walls and floor areas etc of your property.
    • Our forensic investigation inspection reports list the exact causes of building problems usually created from construction faults, incorrect building materials, lack of proper supervision, and general deterioration.
    • Our expert building consultants investigations also find the causes of building failures and rainwater intrusion through waterproofing materials are also contributed to poor design specification that is not the responsibility of the builder when designed by others.

    What is included in building inspections during construction work and why?

    • Our expert building consultants and building technologists are engaged under a consulting contract agreement with our clients to provide building inspection or forensic investigation services. We design specifications for our clients’ remedial works and recommend building inspection programs for every critical stage of the construction process and at pre-determined periodic inspections stages. Our expert building consultants’ inspections services include overseeing of specific procedures particularly with building dispute claims, contract administration and periodic inspections at the critical stages. Building Diagnosis Centre evaluates all work, the cost of the work, building contractors’ progress payment claims, and any variations of work or construction costs that occur.
    • Our expert building consultants’ inspection procedure ensures our clients’ remedial work continues without delays and prior to any remedial work is concealed/covered over by the next construction stage. Our building consultants inspection safeguard the rectification process for our clients against premature deterioration and faulty workmanship and materials occurring. Our clients are usually strata managers, owners’ corporations, other property managers and properties owned by the local council.
    • Our expert building consultants have a strong presence on building sites during the building inspection services. They are widely accepted by building contractors and tradespeople, particularly as our building experts encourage remedial work to be performed in accordance with building contract and specifications. This usually gives peace of mind to the tradespeople undertaking the work, thus stops mistakes occurring that are quite costly for the head building contractor. This ensures our clients’ property don’t suffer latent defects, incomplete work or incorrect materials used in the construction.


    Owners, professionals and builders are advised that inadequately secured masonry brick or block walls expose workers and members of the public to a risk of death or serious injury.


    Recently a worker died and another was seriously injured in separate brick wall collapses on Sydney construction sites.  These are the latest in a series of serious incidents involving masonry walls collapsing on construction and demolition sites. 

    Contributing Conditions

    Usually, the walls lacked the lateral support provided by permanent wall returns or other sections of the final structure e.g. wall or floor frames, roof structures yet to be installed or in the case of demolition sites, this support is removed.

    Wind or other lateral loadings.

    Reduced mortar strength in new walls.

    Damp course membranes providing a line of weakness.


    Ensure the stability of masonry walls during construction or demolition work, by:

    Prior to construction identifying walls that will need temporary support during construction and include temporary support locations and designs in the construction drawings. Sequencing construction so that masonry walls are constructed at the same time as cross walls or returns so they provide lateral support to each other. This may limit the amount of temporary bracing required. Limiting the height of each lift to avoid overloading green masonry. Providing additional temporary support for lintels or other structural elements that place concentrated loads onto green masonry. Avoid placing lateral loads on walls not yet secured into the structure, eg – do not lean materials against the walls.

    When extreme weather is imminent, cease work in the area of incomplete wall structures and establish a suitable exclusion zone.

    Do not seek shelter behind walls of incomplete structures during extreme weather events, even if temporary supports are in place.

    Further Information refer to SafeWork NSW 2009 ‘Masonry Wall Safety during Construction Guide’

    From the director,
    Robert Speirs-Ferrari FAIB, MMBA, MBDA, AfillIEAust, NBPR