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Frank Van der Woude (B.E, Ph.D)

Australian Standard AS 2870 regulates site classification, design, construction and maintenance of residential slabs and footings. Coincidentally with the introduction of AS 2870 in 1986, I started a consulting engineering practice in and around Brisbane, specializing in residential slab and footing design. Because Local Authorities required professional engineer certification of residential slab and footing designs, I diligently assessed the structural adequacy of deemed to comply standard slab designs prescribed in AS 2870. Rudimentary engineering calculations raised my initial concern that some standard slabs were not strong enough to withstand the combined effects of static loading and dynamic foundation movement they have supposedly been designed to withstand. Rigorous engineering analysis confirmed that a lot of standard slabs can barely support the static weight of the house, leaving very little reserve of strength to sustain dynamic foundation movement. Further research into the subject revealed that the theory underlying AS 2870 is seriously fundamentally flawed, consequently causing an unprecedented and unsustainable level of incidence of premature house failures. Moreover, application of AS 2870, in its present prescriptive format, effectively prevents owners of damaged houses from proceeding to litigation to seek compensation for potentially huge structural damage repair costs.

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