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New software ensures building site safety from structural damage

New software that can assess building sites could save homebuilders thousands by avoiding structural damage caused by soil moisture changes.

According to a recent press release, SURFACE will help engineers ensure that new houses can be built with enough flexibility to withstand movement in the soil caused by seasonal change.

The software was developed at RMIT University in collaboration with an engineering consultancy.

The Problem

Current estimates indicate that 80% of all significant structural damage to properties in Melbourne is the result of houses not being designed to withstand the unique demands of each site.

For instance, as clay expands and contracts in response to changes in moisture caused by cold winters and hot summers, the soil is prone to significant movement throughout the year.

The Lead Researcher from the University explained that the software will be able to provide the engineers with additional data to supplement the Australian building standards code.

He added that there are many uncertainties in the current guidelines, often resulting in uncertain estimates of site-specific demand loads.

The lack of reliable, site-specific predictions costs Australia an estimated AU$ 1.8 billion every year in damage, often leading to litigation between homeowners and builders.

As the fastest growing Australian state, Victoria’s population is projected to reach between 7.5 million and 7.9 million people by 2027. This would create demand for around 40,000 new houses per year.

The Solution – SURFACE

The engineering consultancy company is already using the application with positive results.

The Geotechnical Manager shared that it would impact the pockets of homeowners directly by improving the accuracy of surface reactivity calculation.

Having SURFACE reduces the conservatism in design, helping home builders to confidently construct more affordable homes for Australian families.

Structural damage caused by inadequate adaption to soil movement has been widely reported throughout Australia.

Hopefully, the application would be able to help engineers ensure future housing is stronger and more adaptable.


In other news, one of Australia’s biggest hackathons, ITS Hack-a-thon, provided a valuable platform for students, industry partners and mentors to exchange skills and information.

With the theme, “Connected Communities,” it focused on creating equality in education around the globe, with anything from a business idea, solution software, or an app.

Responding to real challenges in a hands-on environment, and working with people who bring varied experience to the table, helps set students up for their future careers.

Events such as these provide the students with unprecedented access to industry professionals including the network of alumni, who make time to share their experiences and expertise.

The winning team will score a study tour to Silicon Valley, San Francisco. This will include a tour of leading tech companies, a meet and greet with industry leaders and a chance to experience emerging technology.

The runners-up will receive cash prizes valued at AU$ 5,000 and AU$ 2,000.

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