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Concrete Cancer Driving Strata Owners to Bankruptcy

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The Courier Mail reports on a slew of concrete cancer riddled apartment buildings now threatening to cost strata owners billions.


 

A recent Queensland incident has once again highlighted the importance of quick response times when it comes to battling the devastating effects of concrete cancer.

The Courier Mail has reported that an “epidemic of concrete cancer in older buildings will bankrupt many high-rise unit owners, with blocks facing billions of dollars in repair.” More worrying is the claim of a cover-up. The Courier claims key industry figures are pointing the finger at body corporates; accusing them of disguising the visible symptoms of concrete cancer.

Queensland’s and Sydney’s skylines are studded with 60’s, 70’s and 80’s apartment buildings. Some are cherished icons, while others are left to languish under neglect. Tragically, decades of disintegration turns these once loved homes into nothing but condemned ruins.

The strata’s body corporate often has the most to lose financially from a bad case of concrete spalling. And their inaction can expose the community to even greater risks when infected buildings start falling apart. As concrete starts to shed, the remnants may well plummet to the ground. Both people and property are at an increased chance of harm. And title owners expose themselves to costly negligence claims.

What do we mean by concrete cancer?

The term ‘concrete cancer’ refers to concrete degradation caused by the presence of contaminants. This eventually results in a building’s steel reinforcements expanding. As the steel swells, the surrounding concrete begins to crack, undermining the overall integrity and strength of the building.

Here’s what you need to look out for to protect your investment:

    • Cracking or flaking concrete – aka “concrete spalling;”
    • Rust stains which seem to be leaking out from within the concrete;
    • The often-seen bubbling of concrete render, or;
    • Leaks which appear in the roof or from within the internal walls.

 

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Letting concrete cancer get out of hand can end up costing you big time.

According to the City Futures Research Centre’s report, “Managing Major Repairs in Residential Strata Developments in New South Wales,” many balconies built in the 1960s and 1970s are now failing due to concrete cancer. The cost to an extremely damaged balcony alone can be anywhere between $8,000 and $30,000.

Rest assured, it doesn’t have to be that way – concrete cancer can be treated early and restored to last a lifetime.

Over the upcoming month we’ll be featuring expert advice from both our Andersal consulting team and trusted experts in construction law and conveyancing. We’ll be covering everything from concrete-cancer busting new technology, to what you should be looking out for when investing in a new or established property.

Want more now? Take a look at our beautiful visual story of how we saved a special slice at world-famous Bondi Beach. Click here.

 

What is concrete cancer and spalling Infographic

What is concrete cancer and concrete spalling Infographic

Don't Fail to Fix Concrete Damage Right Away

Concrete Damage? Procrastinators, don’t hesitate to act in this situation! Putting off repairs to a damaged concrete structure can have catastrophic consequences, both to the structure and to the wallet of whomever or whatever entity it belongs to. If you let it sit without having a professional concrete contractor assess the damage and make the appropriate fixes, the structure’s integrity will eventually be compromised to the point where it is unsafe and beyond repair. At that point, your structure, whether it’s a pool, a bridge, or a wall must be completely rebuilt, and that can empty that wallet with great rapidity.

When a building, terrace, bridge, or other concrete structure is first constructed, the concrete is poured over steel reinforcements. Over time, you may see brown discoloration on the concrete, or hear a strange, drum like sound when you tap on it. These are both signs of a malady called spalling, or concrete cancer.

Several factors can cause the steel reinforcements to be exposed to water or air, which are contaminants that cause the concrete to crack and be compromised. Of course, this is going to weaken the structure, and if neglected, will cause serious, permanent damage as more and more steel is exposed to the elements. In other words, the longer you wait, the sicker your concrete structure will be – and ultimately, the higher the price for curing your ill building.

Repairs entail removal of all damaged concrete; replacement, retreating, and retying of the reinforcements, and then finding a suitable substitute for the original concrete mix. It’s best to find a mix that can be guaranteed to last for decades, and will help prevent a repeat of the damage.

There are several root causes for the premature deterioration of a concrete structure, including the following:

  •       Ineffective placement of steel reinforcements
  •       Poor workmanship
  •       Cheap or low quality materials
  •       Cost-cutting measures, including inadequate waterproofing and low-quality concrete
  •       Unethical business practices, such as low-balling quotes at the expense of construction quality; not mentioning or fixing unseen damage

All of these practices affect the quality and integrity of the concrete structure. Just like any other profession, cutting corners leads to concrete damage, and concrete damage lowers the value of your asset (your structure). In turn, this has a negative effect on your bottom line.

Andersal can keep your structure strong for many years to come. We are thorough and meticulous, and work with great attention to the safety and integrity of your structure. Here are just two examples of our successful repair projects:

  •       North Bondi Beach Tidal Pool: This popular recreation spot was damaged from constant wave action and sand. After assessing the damage, Andersal elected to replace the old reinforcements with marine-grade stainless steel, both in the pool’s walls and floor.
  •       Blue Scope Rail Bridge: This was a challenging project. To avoid major disruption of the rail schedule, Andersal was given four hours to repair the damage to the bridge. After removing the concrete and cleaning the steel through a process called hydro demolition, the crew added a special coating to the steel, replaced the concrete, and then added a special coating to protect against water and minimise new corrosion. The job was finished right on time and Andersal won a Certificate of Merit at the 2008 Australian Concrete Repair Association Awards.

So save yourself some money, stress, and time. Don’t put off repairing damaged concrete, and make sure you contract with a reputable company to make necessary repairs. You can depend on Andersal to do the job right, ensure the safety of your concrete structure, and not empty your wallet!