Every Forensic Investigation starts with a site inspection. Some investigations may not need a lengthy report; a verbal advice from the inspecting Engineer or one to two-page report may suffice, however, every investigation will require a very thorough and detailed site inspection.
Depending on the complexity of the structure and the problem at hand, Forensic site inspections usually take 1 up to 3 hours. Every Forensic Engineer at MFS Engineering has developed a unique routine and method for site inspections and investigations through years of experience. But to ensure that all necessary data and information is collected from the site and the Engineer’s time on site is optimally spent we follow the following procedures:
The Property Owner or manager or any other involved party in the case will be interviewed at start and during the inspection whenever necessary.
- The Engineer will ask questions regarding the age of the structure, the background and the history of the damage, any changes and upgrades that may have previously applied to the site and/or structure, client’s opinion of what may have caused the damage and etc. to obtain an initial understanding of the situation and client’s concerns.
- The client will be asked to walk the Engineer around the property while pointing out every damage and answering Engineer’s questions such as: when was the first time the damage was observed? Has the damage been developed over time? Has the damage been repaired before? and so on.
- Site, structure, surroundings and every damage will be carefully photographed.
- Based on the damage and professional judgement of the Engineer, a floor level survey and/or brick course level survey will be carried out to identify footing movements of the structure and to determine the pattern of the movement if any. A 2D plan will be drawn on site to record the measurements. This measurement will be conducted using a ‘Zip LevelPro-2000’ with accuracy of +/- 2mm. For more on floor level survey click here.
- Engineer will take other measurements such as crack widths, necessary dimensions, wall verticality etc. as required.
- The client may be asked to provide MFSEngineering with any additional information regarding the structure such as Architectural and Structural drawings, Geotechnical reports etc. To assist with the investigation.
The collected data and information will carefully be reviewed by the Engineers at MFS Engineering as part of the process to determine the main cause of damage and failure.
Forensic Structural Engineering is a field of professional practice in which the root causes of failure of any structural components and/or elements of building is investigated and determined. As perfectly described by Noon in his book Forensic Engineering Investigation, Forensic Structural investigation consists of firstly “careful and detailed observations.Then, based upon the observations, a working hypothesis is formulated to explain the observations. Experiments or additional observations are then made to test the predictive ability of the working hypothesis. As more observations are collected and studied, it may be necessary to modify, amplify, or even discard the original hypothesis in favor of a new one that can account for all the observations and data. Unless the data or observations are proven to be inaccurate, a hypothesis is not considered valid unless it accounts for all the relevant observations and data.”
In simple words the objective of Forensic Structural investigation is to objectively identify the root cause(s) of damage and/or failure based on the available evidence and accepted engineering principles. Unlike Design Engineer who predicts how the structure is expected to behave based on the design process, the Forensic Engineer must understand how the structure has actually behaved after construction. As a result, the role of the Forensic Structural Engineering in educating the building industry about failures and practical ways to prevent them is crucial. In fact, the Engineering and construction codes and standards are improved based on the lessons that are learnt from Forensic Investigations.
Damage to buildings, structural or non-structural, can happen due to several reasons such as negligence, incompetency of the design Engineer or Builder, short cuts during construction or natural events like flood, fire and earthquake for instance. It is the role of Forensic Engineer to accurately determine what has led to the occurrence of the damage to help decision makers in the process. Forensic Engineer may be required to provide further assistance in Insurance claim handlings or to give testimony in judicial proceedings.
*Insurance Claim Assessment
Damage to buildings and structures can be attributed to various factors from inadequacy of initial design and construction of the building to unfortunate occurrence of events such as fire, flood, leak or earthquake. During Insurance claim handling process, it is crucial not only for the insurer but also for the property owner to be effectively informed of the proximate cause of the damage. This can only be achieved by an independent assessment carried out by experience Forensic Engineering team.
At MFS Engineering our engineers are Forensic Experts with years of experience in assisting Australian Insurance industry and Loss Adjusters determining liability and settling disputes by providing high quality but simplified and easy-to understand reports which objectively outlines the cause or causes of failure and whether or not the damage is event related. MFS Engineering provides the following services to Insurers, Loss Adjusters and Building Consultants:
- Thorough site inspections by highly trained Senior Forensic Structural Engineers to identify the root cause of the damage to the structure. This will eﬀectively minimize the engagement of other types of engineering services, such as Geotechnical Investigation, which based on our experience have been proofed to be of no necessity in majority (about 80%) of cases.
- Responding to building damage caused by significant weather/natural events such as windstorm, hail, earthquake, fire etc.
- Producing high quality Forensic Engineering Reports and Scope of Works at lowest price available in the market. Our years of experience in the industry have fully familiarized us with the Insurance requirements leading us to a development of a process perfectly tailored for Insurance companies to avoid all unnecessary costs that are hidden within services provided by others.
- Simpliﬁed working process is what we always aim for. Our fees are always based upon the inspection zone of the project, and never upon time units. That way you’re encouraged to call upon us without worrying about a meter running.
- With the use of our integrated user-friendly CRM portal you can be informed of every step along the process and securely check your project’s milestone and easily communicate with us whenever the need arises.
- With our obvious efficiency and performance focused business model, fast turnaround times are easily achieved.
MFS Engineering is currently operating throughout the state of Victoria (Metropolitan and Regional). Having Engineers working from their own homes and offices, thanks to our Cloud Business Model, we have the opportunity to provide our high quality Forensic Services to entire Victoria at significantly lower prices.
At MFS Engineering our Engineers are Senior Forensic Experts and members of Engineers Australia with years of experience in Australian building industry. The Forensic Engineering Service is something only educated people in the industry know about. Generally, not every Design Engineer is a Forensic Engineer, but every Forensic Structural Engineer is also a Design Engineer. Design Engineers often have minimal forensic structural engineering experience, which usually leads to inaccurate diagnosis and unnecessary expenses that clients unknowingly must pay for. At MFS Engineering our Senior Forensic Engineers have developed their specific skillsets through years of hands on experience in the forensic field.
When it comes to building damage and defects, we provide our clients critical expert advice to assist them through their decision-making process. Some cases may not require a full comprehensive Forensic Investigation. A site inspection by a Senior Engineer and a verbal Expert advice on site may be sufficient from time to time but you will never know unless you contact us and speak to one of our friendly Forensic Engineers.
When you call us, we ask you all the right questions to get to the bottom of the situation and to ensure that you will receive the best support you can get.
MFS Engineering is specialised in investigation and structural failure analysis. With years of experience in Forensic Structural Engineering field, we have gathered an invaluable database of cases and scenarios on what can go wrong during design, construction and even after several years of occupancy. We have extensive understanding of legal requirements for proceedings at VCAT, tribunals and courts.
We understand that disputes over the quality of building works and workmanships can be extremely costly to be resolved in court. That’s why MFS Engineering provides you with an independent and objective opinion on technical matters to help you with determining the technical merits of your case prior committing to such an expensive practice.
If you are involved in a dispute it is necessary to engage an expert witness who is experience, knowledgeable and persuasive. We act as an expert witness to assist you in relation to disputes lodged with the Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal (VCAT). Our reports are completed in a VCAT compliant format, known as ‘Practice Note-PNVCAT 2’.
It is not unusual for a perfectly maintained building to start showing signs of damage when building works are carried out in the adjoining property. Therefore, it is very important for both the Property Owners and the Builders to cover their assets prior the commencement of the construction works such as excavating and drilling. This is often done by a well-prepared Dilapidation Report.
Dilapidation report provides a photographic evidence of the condition of the building before the commencement of the construction works within the neighbouring property. Dilapidation report is not a Forensic or Defect report and cause of damage to the building will not be investigated by the Engineer as part of this service. However, high quality photos of every existing damage to the building will be provided for recording and documenting purposes.
At MFS Engineering we understand that Dilapidation projects usually comes in volume. That is why we have trained a team of junior engineers to manage Dilapidation projects efficiently and cost effectively.
*Building Defects Report
A Building Defect Report is a comprehensive report on all structural and cosmetic defects as well as safety issues that can be a result of sub-standard work or lack of expertise at the time of construction. Building Defect Report is different to Comprehensive Forensic Investigation Report as it mainly focuses on identifying every single defect within the property and providing photographic evidence of the observed defects for client’s record. Whilst It does not include repair recommendations and scope of works for repairs, it contains an expert advice on the exact course of action to get the required repairs done.In determining building defect, it is important to engage experienced building consultants and Engineers who are fully aware of Australian Building Codes and Standards.
For Property Managers or Property Owners that want to discover hidden defects before the project hand over or even before selling, getting a Defect Report is a way to go. At MFS Engineering your property, new or established, will be adequately inspected by our Expert Engineers to identify and report any non-compliance in accordance with current Australian Building Codes and Standards and acceptable tolerances.
*Due Diligence Report / Pre Purchase Building
For majority of Australian, purchasing a house is the most expensive investment in their lifetime. It is considered to be a huge decision and therefore, carrying a proper due diligence and pre-inspection to help you make an informed diction is a must before signing the contract.
Most houses that are up for sale look good even great internally and externally but only a trained eye can pick all the hidden defects that can significantly hurt your bank account in a long run.
A Due Diligence Report will identify any structural and cosmetic defects within the property before its purchase which can assist you in assessing the risks involved in your big investment and it can even help you negotiate a lower purchase price. Athorough inspection of accessible areas of the building will be carried out and structural stability, watertightness and standard of workmanship will be assessed. The building report is completed to Australian Standard 4349.1-2007 by an experience Structural Engineer and covers structural and cosmetic damage, safety and maintenance issues, pest and termite infestation, site drainage issues and trees and vegetation which may cause foundation movements.
Having an expert to inspect the structure you are about to invest in is a clever move to ensure that you are choosing right and not a money pit.
*Floor Level Surveys
Footings of the house can be adversely affected by variations in the moisture content of the foundation soil which can occur as a result of several contributing factors such as trees, poor site drainage, leak, drought etc. or a combination. Conducting a floor level survey is significantly helpful for the Forensic Engineer to form an objective and accurate opinion about what the proximate cause of the differential footing movements is.
At MFS Engineering we carry out floor level surveys when required using ‘Zip LevelPro-2000’ with accuracy of +/- 2mm. The floor level readings will be recorded on the floor plan of the building and the contour lines will be drawn accordingly (if applicable). The contour pattern will be carefully studied by the Engineer to identify whether the foundation soil has undergone ‘settlement’ or ‘heave’ providing an objective assessment of the foundation soil movements of the house.
Floor level survey is included in the Forensic Investigation service that MFS Engineering provide, but if you are only in need of floor level surveys for your project and do not require an Engineering report, contact us and have it arranged.
Providing Services For
· Homeowners/ Investors
· Builders And Developers
· Engineering Consultancies
· Building Consultants
· Insurance And Loss Adjusters
· Legal And VCAT Expert Witness
MFS Engineering is the first forensic structural engineering company in Australia to conquer geographical boundaries.
We are very selective about the senior forensic engineers that we bring onto our team. We have scoured the country and only hired those who have extensive experience working on both insurance and non-insurance related projects for reputable structural engineering companies. Each member of our team has hands on experience in the forensic structural engineering industry, which enables them to easily identify the cause of building damage and develop solutions perfectly tailored to meet our clients needs.
- Site Inspection
- Forensic Investigation
- Expert Advice
- Insurance Claim Assessment
- Building Defects Report
- Floor Level Surveys
- Due Diligence Report/Pre purchase Building Report
- Expert Witness
- Dilapidation Report
Our team will be delighted to hear from you! Please do not hesitate getting in touch.
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