Remedial Building and Defect Detection

remedial building defects detection

Remedial Building A Definition & Its Use.

What is Remedial Building? Well the very etymology of the word gives us some indication, with its root relationship to the Latin ‘Remedium’, meaning cure or medicine, the same word from which the English word ‘Remedy’ derived its meaning. Remedial building, as opposed to new construction, acts to fix any problems in a building that prevent its use. 

remedial building and its use

Structural & Functional Integrity

While remedial building often acts to resolve any structural issues that might begin to visually manifest, it actually extends beyond fundamental ‘Structural Integrity’ issues and includes what we will call ‘Functional Integrity’ issues.

‘Functional integrity’ extends to all reasonable practical use of building elements. With this in mind we could find extensive problems with many designs, from access to aesthetics. However in relation to remedial building, we narrow it down to those core issues that prevent the building from being legally functional, which are classed as ‘Defects’.

Diagnosing Defects

A professional diagnosis of defects in an existing building is a requirement for remedial building works to take place. A prognosis can be delivered both prior to and during remedial building works, as final fault detection is usually not possible without beginning some exploratory works. 

Fault or defect detection can begin a number of ways, but is often visual. An experienced Remedial builder often has many tools available to him for discovering defects, from more advanced scanners, to pinhole or penetrative works to basic visual cues.

defects detection

When Defect Detection Should Be Undertaken

Annual Defect Detection

For remedial building to take place, defect detection should be undertaken at least once a year post construction, and by a third party company that was not involved in the construction of the building. It’s usual prior to the end of a construction contract to ensure that at a minimum construction has been carried out to design specifications. 

Annual defect detection is one of the preventative measures that a strata can undertake. The process of early discovery is essential to minimising damage to an investment property. Unfortunately many stratas skip this step, with a mindset of “If we don’t find it, it can’t cost us”. If early detection of defects doesn’t occur then what was a small amount of rust corrosion can turn into major structural issues. 

In many more professionally run stratas, annual defect detection is a part of the process for them, it is booked in, and the reports are filed to demonstrate due diligence on all fronts. This paperwork can be absolutely vital in insurance claims, if even after due diligence has been met there is further damage to the building.

remedial building strata annual defect detection

Defect Detection In Event Of Natural Disaster

In the event of a natural disaster a Strata should, as soon as reasonably possible, undertake a remedial builder for defect detection. Early detection of any damage to the building can prevent millions of dollars worth of future damage. Additionally if a Strata has knowledge of issues in a building but doesn’t undertake reasonable steps to prevent failure of a structure, then there are issues of liability if due diligence has not been done.

Liability however extends beyond the mere financial, and we enter the more serious results of ignored repairs, that of personal injury. The fact is that when we deal with buildings, and defects, we are taking people’s lives into our hands. This is why a clearly established policy for defect detection is absolutely vital in a strata, and proper remedial building work to take place if necessary.


A defect is a very broad term when speaking of remedial issues, a defect can range from a serious structural failure, to a change in local council policy regarding balcony railing height.

Defects can be placed broadly into the following categories:

  • Design Defects

Those defective issues in the actual design, these are defects in the design that made it past the review processes. Sometimes the design defects are ones that failed to take into account a natural disaster that seemed highly improbable, but recently occurred nearby, such as a hurricane. There are a few examples of high rises in the US in which this was the case, and remedial building works needed to be undertaken to strengthen the structure.

  • Construction Defects

Are the most common on newly constructed buildings. These can range from improperly installed waterproofing, insulation. Also if concrete has been poured under poor weather conditions, etc. These are essentially mistakes made by the primary contractor during the establishment of the building, and even in the finishing period.

  • Lifecycle Defects

The older a building is the more likely life cycle defects will occur (movement, settlement, differential movement, thermal movement, wear and tear and so on). Some common examples of lifecycle defects are in older Victorian era buildings, where movement has occurred which has shifted the brickwork. Earliest signs of this are plaster cracks, and then across brickwork, the later results can be ceilings, walls, or even the collapse of the entire structure if not addressed.

  • Compliance Issues

Compliance defects can happen anytime as local council regulations change and state and federal laws shift. Compliance defect notices are more likely going to be things such as lack of access for certain people, or railing height issues, pool gate height issues, etc. While many non-compliance defects might not place people in immediate danger it can still be cause to close an entire building if not addressed. Non-compliance issues are also the easiest manner in which a lack of due diligence can be established legally speaking. In terms of money, these are relatively easy to avoid with an experienced contractor, and if the remedial building services are being undertaken in a legal and appropriate manner. 

When To Involve a Remedial Builder

Every strata should have a qualified and insured remedial builder which will respond immediately to any safety concerns. A qualified and insured remedial building service provider like Bolt Building for example, is able to not only assess potential damage, provide appropriate paperwork for insurance, but also be able to carry out important risk assessments and provide the required contractors to protect the safety of the people in the building, and also the reputations of those involved. 

A good rule of thumb is to check your strata paperwork to see when the last booked inspection was. If it was over a year ago, then liability wise you should book a full defect diagnostic immediately, in which a dilapidation report will need to be produced.

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Contact Bolt Building for Remedial Building

Check out official information on NSW Building Regulation & Certification: