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Investigation of water leakage in residential apartment (concrete) balconies (in progress)

What we are doing and why

The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) is supporting research by Swinburne University of Technology through a research grant to undertake research to identify the causes of water ingress in concrete balconies in Class 2 buildings[1], and opportunities for improvement to current regulations, standards and work practice in balcony design and construction to reduce or eliminate water ingress.

This research grant was awarded in 2022, and supports research that will find, or contribute to, new and innovative solutions to minimise moisture ingress and water damage in Victorian buildings, and help provide the evidence base to inform regulatory decisions and improvements to the building regulatory system and the quality of the built environment in Victoria.

Many Australian homes suffer from excessive dampness and indoor mould. This can be exacerbated by inadequate or poor design, poor construction practices, and poor maintenance practices, resulting from lack of awareness and knowledge in the construction industry and by building occupants.

Water damage routinely tops the list of defects encountered in buildings and in complaints to the VBA, claims to the Victorian Managed Insurance Agency and disputes to the Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria. Wet areas and water proofing and drainage issues are commonly occurring areas of compliance risk we identify through the VBA’s proactive inspections.

Mould can be caused by excessive presence of water within a building component (such as an external wall or roof), due to extreme events (such as flooding) or internal leakages from plumbing services, or condensation issues being caused by design and construction practices.

Moisture and mould in buildings is linked to negative impacts on human health and amenity, as well as building structural integrity.

The research aims to identify opportunities for improvement in the performance of concrete balcony build materials and construction methods (such as concrete mix design, falls and drains), identify different structural systems to limit balcony water ingress, and quantify the efficacies of waterproofing methods across the building lifecycle.

Swinburne University of Technology’s Professor Shan Shanmugananthakumar (Shan Kumar) is leading the research.

This research is a collaboration between the Victorian Building Authority, Swinburne University of Technology, and the Housing Industry Association.

What we have achieved so far

This research commenced in January 2023. Due for completion in 2024, this research complements the research the VBA is already supporting or has conducted, including:

[1] A Class 2 building is a building containing two or more sole-occupancy units where people live above, beside or below each other. This class may also include single-storey attached dwellings with a common space below, such as a carpark.