A 30-minute inspection by a qualified structural engineer could prevent a tragedy.
A 30-minute inspection by a qualified structural engineer could prevent a tragedy.

Shonky builders risking lives

TENS of thousands of Queensland decks are potential death traps because of shonky builders and budget-conscious homeowners, a structural engineer warns.

Sagar Ghediya said rogue tradies were cutting corners to win contracts, while clients who were keen to save money were accepting unsafe work.

Mr Ghediya, of SMG Engineers in Clayfield, has inspected many homes following complaints to the Queensland Building and Construction Commission, which have risen by 44 per cent since 2016.

"Homeowners want to do it cheaply - they go online and randomly find someone who says, 'I'll do it for you'," he said.

"Ethically, what builders should be saying is, 'You guys have to get a certificate, engineering sign-off, a soil test, drawings done up, and then we can build'. Instead, they are buying DIY deck kits and not building to specifications, making them higher and larger than they should be. I've seen joists missing, no bracing - it's alarming."

Mr Ghediya, who charges $250-$350 for a deck report, estimated 10 per cent of builders were inept or dishonest.

This year, the QBCC has received 56 complaints about timber decks alone, including bad workmanship and product failure - up from 39 two years ago.

Leading architect Shane Thompson urged homeowners to be vigilant coming into the festive season.

"If you're having 60 of your nearest and dearest standing out there, a half-hour inspection by a qualified structural engineer is more of an investment than good party lights," Mr Thompson said.

Structural engineers are trained to look for faults in load-bearing walls, foundations and other supports, while building inspectors only provide a broad overview.

"Bad workmanship might not be evident immediately, and what was safe two years ago might not be safe now," he said. "Problems can emerge with timber shrinkage, the use of inappropriate timber, and, more critically, fixings to the main structure.

"Even the most beautifully renovated house could be hiding a defect."

 

DECK CHECK

• Fixings, including post brackets, should be free from rust, bending or fractures. Replace rusted nuts, bolts, screws and nails.

• Timber posts and decking should be without decay and not be spongy. Use screwdriver to poke suspect timber to help identify rot.

• Water can pool around steel posts; look for rust and deterioration.

• Bracing supports must not show excessive structural movement.

• Use only licensed builders, and take photos after work is done to identify changes/issues in future.

Source: Queensland Building and Construction Commission



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