Reporting on a lack of expansion joints

Reporting on a Lack of Expansion Joints is important

It is not uncommon for building inspectors to come across tiles and masonry that don’t have expansion joints where required. Let’s talk about the importance of reporting on a lack of expansion joints.

Unfortunately, Rapid Solutions finds that adequate reporting of this issue is sometimes neglected in building inspection reports. This brings with it great risk of a future costly insurance claim, so below we will explore how to report on this finding.

If you undertake building inspections you are aware that you must comply with the Australian Standard AS 4349.1-2007. This states that all major defects and safety hazards must be reported in the pre-purchase reports, with an overview of minor defects included.

Picture this: In doing an inspection for a customer you see a reasonably large area that is tiled, and it appears to be in “like new” condition. You tap around the area in search of drummy tiles, all the while keeping your eye out for any cracking or signs of movement in the tiles or the substrate. You complete your inspection of this area and there are no such findings.

Lacks and limitations – report it right

Does this mean there is nothing to report, that there are no defects or safety hazards in the area? Should you have looked for, and reported on, expansion joints even though there are no signs to suggest there is a problem?

The answer is – categorically – yes!

However, as you are not producing a compliance report you should only report on the existence or non-existence of the expansion joints. You should also recommend that a qualified tiler or mason/bricklayer inspect the area and provide further advice.

The lack of expansion joints may never be an issue, unless there is movement in the future. Regardless, it still needs to be reported on. You will find it difficult to defend an insurance claim if you have not reported the lack of expansion joints.

If you come across a property that does not have expansion joints in tiling or masonry we recommend the following wording be used in your report.

The (tiling or masonry) in (describe the location) appears to not have expansion joints. These joints compensate for movement in the tiles/masonry due to variations in elements such as heat and/or moisture and are placed at prescribed locations and distances apart. We recommend that you engage a qualified (wall and floor tiler or bricklayer) to inspect this area and provide a scope of work and cost for repairs as may be necessary.

Reporting on a lack of expansion joints is a need-to-know for your client and important for the protection of your business.

Get the right insurance

An additional avenue for protecting yourself from a costly insurance claim is taking out professional indemnity and public liability insurance. The more safety barriers you can apply to your work, the safer you will be financially.

We hope our guidance has helped you understand your legal requirements in this area. If still have questions, please contact one of our industry experts. Our Technical Officer is available Monday to Friday to share his knowledge and make your working life a little easier.