Stormwater – Kerb Discharge

If you are going to build on an existing block you will probably have a planning permit condition that stormwater must discharge to an approved point.

If there is no surface water system one option can be to discharge to the street.

This is normally by constructing a proper kerb outlet like the photo below:

Stormwater Outlet - kerb
Kerb discharge poor
But not like this dodgy installation on the right!
Or even discharging over people walking along the path like the one illustrated in this post: Overflow Fail

A kerb connection can be at a reasonable cost as long as the house is above the road.

If the house is below the road you will need either:


  • A pump and storage for the storm water, which can add significantly to the build cost.


For more information on issues like this see Guide to Buying a Block


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Live Video Help

A new way of helping!

I have decided to offer a  GOOGLE HELPOUT

This new service allows anyone to get in touch with a service provider for a video chat for up to 15 minute about their problem.

There are a wide range of service providers that can offer advice on all sorts of problems. Some are free (usually sponsored by manufacturers or retailers).  Others charge a fee, in my case $12.

Want to find out more click the button below…… or watch the video

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Worlds Most Unusual Door

This picture shows a Klemens Torggler Door

Klemens Torggler Door

If you think it looks odd just click on the youtube video link below to see it open and close . . . . But be careful, I could watch it for hours!

Youtube Door Video


For more Unusual Ideas have a look at: What the………………….?


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What Are Brick Articulation Joints?

When you are looking round your new home build you may think  ”What’s that gap between the window and the brickwork?” . . . . . . .or even “Why is there a vertical gap between the bricks in the middle of the wall?”

Before you panic it might be worth checking if it is an Articulation Joint.

Why Are There Articulation Joints?

Brick Veneer houses can move for several different reasons including:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Movement of the frame
  • ‘Flexing’ of the foundation

As the structure moves articulation joints are used to accommodate these movements in the structure without cracking.

Unless the soil has been classed as either A or S (see: Soil Classification) vertical articulation joints must be installed in any un-reinforced masonry walls.


In straight walls without openings, the articulation joints must be at a maximum spacing of 6m. They must not be closer than the wall height from the corners.

Where there is a door or window its normal practice to put the joint alongside so they are less obvious.


For articulation joints next to windows and doors a gap of 10 mm must be left between the edge of the frame and the brickwork.

articulation joint

In a plain wall the gap between bricks again should be 10mm.

The space between the bricks is taken up with a foam filler with a flexible seal on the outside face keeping water out.

The bottom of this photo shows what the finished seal should look like . . . . . . . the top part shows a problem that will needs to be sorted. (normally this tearing of the sealant from the brick is caused when the sealant is too thin)

What you can’t see is  that during the construction the bricklayers should be inserting expansion ties across the joint.

If you want to find out more here is a link : Articulated Walling  on the website  

See Bricks for More Posts



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Pre-Plasterboard Inspection


Plasterboard can cover a lot of defects . . . . . . . so if worth checking on things before it goes up.

Typically the timing of this inspection will be after the ‘Lock Up Stage‘ but before the completion of the ‘Fixing Stage‘.

Due to cost lots of people don’t use a Building Inspector, or only use one for the Practical Completion Inspection (PCI).  I think making sure things are OK at the ‘Pre-Plaster Stage’ is probably more important, so if your budget is strained that is where I think your money is best spent.

Getting things fixed at this stage is much easier than trying to sort out issues between PCI and handover.

A further advantage of a detailed inspection at this stage is that it really emphasises to the Site Supervisor that quality is important to you before they get to the ‘Fit Out Stage’.

Don’t forget the outside, Checks, if they haven’t been done at an earlier stage, should include:

  1. Site Drainage -  Are the drains and sewers in and the construction looks OK. Is the site graded so water doesn’t pond against the house
  2. Brickwork /External Cladding - Does this look neat and well finished, and not have bricks overhanging the edge of the slab?
  3. Building Weathertight - Look up is the roof complete? Is there any evidence of rain coming in? If you asked for sarking has it been installed?
  4. Layout - Are the rooms the right size and the doors and windows where you expected them to be
  5. Framing Defects – Does the frame look and feel solid, square and straight? Have the electricians and plumbers damaged any of the structural members during their installation of pipes and cables?
  6. Electrical and Plumbing – Are power cables and mounting plates in position where you want all your power sockets? Do the plumbing connections look to be in the right places
  7. Wet Areas – Has the waterproofing been applied and look complete?
  8. Insulation – Have the correct insulation batts been fitted into the external wall frame, with no missing areas, or gaps between individual batts. Has any noise insulation been installed between rooms and between floors, with no missing areas, or gaps?

Doing your own PCI ? . . . the PCI Guide provides extensive checklists and advice for only $4


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Throw Away The Spirit Level

Villa Libeskind

A spirit level, or a builders square wouldn’t be much use in this house. . .  Hardly any of the walls are vertical or the corners square!

This is actually a modular building designed by Studio Daniel Libeskind (who incidentally has one of the worst websites I have come across)

If you really want this house you may still be able to get one as they are available in modular form in a limited edition of 30 units.


For more Unusual House Photos, and Fails, have a look at: What the………………….?



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Bushfire Reserve – Volume

I have previously talked about Bushfire reserve supplies. . . . But how much?

I see various minimum water volumes put forward for bush fire reserves. For example in early 2014 the following applied.

  • Victoria, regulations for new builds require 10,000Litres.
  • South Australia the country fire service suggests 22,000Litres.

Just because there is a minimum requirement that doesn’t mean that is going to be enough water to deal with an incident for your property. Here are some thoughts on what I feel is appropriate.

  1.  10,000litres which can only be accessed via a fitting that meets the requirement of your local fire fighting service. This varies from state to state so check with your local brigade. This supply is really a last ditch supply available to the fire brigade when they are activly defending your property from direct attack.
  2. 2 – 4,000litres to assist you in dealing with ember attack with a hand held hose, in advance of the fire front reaching the property, and following the passing of the fire front.
  3. Bushfire sprayAdequate Volume to run a sprinkler system from starting the system until the fire front has passed. This volume will depend on the number of sprinklers, and the time you intend to run them. In other words Flow and Time:
    • Flow For a small house you could be using around 2,400litres per hour (Say 2  impulse sprinklers on the roof and 6 spray nozzles on the side of the house under attack) For larger Houses or those with several outbuildings the volume will be much larger.
    • Time The time will vary depending on your Fire Plan.
      • If you are planning to stay and defend your property you will want enough volume to defend your property during severe ember attack, while the fire front passes through your property, and to damp down afterwards. (Say 2 hours, 5,000litres)
      • If your Fire Plan is to set all the sprinklers running and leave early on days of high fire danger you will probably need to allow 12 hours running time per day of fire danger.(Say 28,000litres per day)

The above figures are indicative and any spray system should be properly designed.

Photo from

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Concrete – Adding Extra Water

A ‘Dirty Secret’ of the Construction Industry is;  adding of extra water to concrete mixes.

The ready mix concrete suppliers carefully design mixes with appropriate water cement ratios, which are loaded onto the delivery truck by computer controlled batching systems. . . . . . . All this effort on getting the mix right goes out of the window when the truck arrives on site and a hose comes out to arbitrarily add water to the mix.


Here are some of the problems adding extra water causes:

  • Too much water will cause settling and segregation of the aggregate to the bottom of the slab (with more sand at the top) which results in a lower strength slab.
  • Water that is not consumed by the chemical reaction will eventually leave the concrete as it hardens, resulting in holes that will reduce the final strength of the concrete.
  • As the excess water leaves there will be more shrinkage, resulting in larger internal cracks and visible fractures.

Reasons Why Extra Water Is Added

  • Easier To Lay A ‘wetter’ mix is said to be more ‘Workable’, in other words it can be spread and a top surface formed with little or no vibration. (Fully vibrated concrete will minimise voids in the concrete without the need to add water) Adding water saves the concretor time, effort, and hire costs for a vibrator
  • Delivery Drivers Time A ‘wetter’ mix comes out of the drum faster allowing the driver, who is paid per load, to fit an extra delivery in his day.
  • Material Costs Improved workability can be achieved by adding a plasticiser, rather than adding water, but this adds significantly to the cost.


I have worked on big construction projects where every concrete delivery has been been tested before pouring. Any load that was too wet, or any driver seen adding water, and the load was sent straight to the tip. ( I once saw 5 consecutive deliveries sent to the tip)

For you, organising your own concreting, the best advice I can give make sure that anyone you ask for a price knows that are not prepared to accept added water.   Be prepared to pay extra for a plasticiser added to the mix.


For more posts on on getting your paths and driveways correct see Concreting


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