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Identify and describe the properties of building materials.
Ensure suitable building materials are selected for
Supervise the acceptance, safe handling and storage of
materials on site.
Supervise testing of materials on site for suitability and
fitness for purpose.
Establish records of materials testing and report on testing
process conformance or otherwise.
The way in which buildings are built and constructed are
governed by the National Construction Codes of
Australia (NCC).
The NCC applies to all states and territories through
their own building control laws. The NCC is produced
and maintained by the Australian Building Codes Board
(ABCB) on behalf of the Australian Government and each
state and territory government
For society to function effectively it must have a way to
mediate the relationships between people and private
and public organisations.
This is achieved by enacting laws that address contracts,
criminal activity, property and many other aspects of
Codes of Practice
Standards (Australian)
Most Australian houses consist of similar
materials. Builders will choose materials after
taking into account:
Building codes and standards;
Architectural requirements;
Client’s needs.
Typical construction materials include
concrete, metals, masonry, timber, fibrocement, glass, insulation, plaster, plastics,
ceramics, and paints.
 Concrete is a composite building material made from a
combination of aggregate and a binder such as cement.
Metals are used as structural framework for larger
buildings such as skyscrapers, or as an external surface
Copper has been used for hundreds of years. It is light
brown in colour and can very flexible in its nature. It is
extremely resistant to corrosion and, when exposed, it
forms a protective coating which is light in colour.
 Glass is used to cover openings in a building and they
provide the ability to both let light into rooms while at
the same time keeping inclement weather outside.
 Masonry such as clay brickwork is made from selected
clays that are moulded or cut into shape and fired in
 Lightweight timber construction has a long history in
Australia where it is the most common house
construction type
 Insulation acts as a barrier to heat flow and is essential to
keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer. A
well insulated and well designed home will provide year
round comfort, cutting cooling and heating bills by half.
 Ceramic is a non-metallic inorganic solid. It is prepared
by the action of heat and consecutive cooling. They can
have crystalline structures or be amorphous like glass.
 Plasterboard is also referred to as dry wall or wallboard. It
is hydrated gypsum sandwiched between two layers of
Properties of materials
Certain materials are designed to have specific properties.
For example, a material may be designed to have very high
compressive strength, such as an engineering brick.
All materials have certain qualities and characteristics that
can be defined and tested.
 This is the ability of a material to stand up to forces being
applied without it bending, breaking, shattering or
deforming in any way.
 This is the ability of a material to absorb force and flex in
different directions, returning to its original position.
 This is the ability of a material to change in shape
 This is the ability of material to change shape (deform),
usually by stretching along its length.
Tensile strength
 This is the ability of a material to stretch without breaking
or snapping.
 This is the ability of a material to be reshaped in all
directions without cracking.
 This is a characteristic of a material that does not break or
shatter when receiving a blow or under a sudden shock.
 This is the ability of a material to resist scratching, wear
and tear and indentation.
The construction industry generates a large percentage of
the waste that ends up in our landfills. The different types of
construction and building waste consists of:
concrete-based masonry
Minimise your impact
There are several ways to minimise your impact on the environment
with your selection of materials.
Avoid over-estimating when ordering materials.
Specify and document exact requirements.
Store materials sensibly to avoid damage.
Have a recycling plan in place for incoming materials
(e.g. packaging).
Suggest and purchase environmentally approved materials.
Minimise your impact
Be informed and educated about waste reduction.
Build to standard sizing.
Make efficient use of the materials on hand.
Minimise energy consumption by considering means and
frequency of transportation.
Material lifecycle
Every material has a life of its own. Each material will start
in a raw form, get processed and then be made into a
finished product. At the end of its lifecycle it is disposed
of. In the case of construction, it will most likely end up in
Determining the tolerances of materials
Tolerance in materials is specifications that define
the allowed variation for the form and the size of
each material. Tolerance also allows variation in
orientation and location between the material
All materials have tolerances and each is subject to
variation therefore the limits of variation must be
specified. It is important to check the tolerance
against the nature of work being performed.
Australian Standards
Many Australian Standards will give specifications on what
is expected of a finished product. In addition to the
standards, many building designers will produce a set of
specifications that will spell out the requirements of a
finished product.
Finishing levels
Many building contracts specify a finishing level for a material or product that
is applied or installed in the building.
Level 0 – temporary construction, undefined decoration. Sheets are nailed, glued
or screwed in place.
Level 1 – areas out of public view (concealed). Tool marks and ridges are
acceptable in this finish.
Level 2 – areas that don’t have appearance as their primary concern, e.g.
garages and warehouses. Some minor tool marks and edges are sometimes
Level 3 – for areas that are to receive texture or heavy wall covering like paper.
Level 4 – most commercial or domestic constructions are of a level 4 (using flat
paints). Area will be illuminated with lighting. Free of marks and edges.
Level 5 – for critical lighting/gloss paints
Guide to Standards and Tolerances 2007
The purpose of the Guide is to set out in a single document both the
regulated standards and a reasonable guide to standards in respect of nonregulated aspects of domestic building construction.
The scope of the Guide
The Guide is based on experience gained in facilitating the
resolution of many domestic building disputes.
It covers issues that are often of concern to building owners and
Material selection is based on safety, fire resistance, durability,
serviceability, cost effectiveness, and compliance with Australian
As a builder or supervisor you will need certain key information about
products that will assist you with the materials’ application, storage
requirements, handling requirements, and ingredients.
Clay Brick
The high compressive strength of fired clay bricks have been exploited for
millennia to build structures ranging from single storey houses to massive
public buildings and enormous bridges.
Fire Resistance
Build-ability, Availability and Cost
Durability and Moisture Resistance
Toxicity and Breathability
Environmental Impacts
Fire Aspects of Building Materials
The NCC specifies the following three aspects of fire resistant
Structural adequacy – the ability to maintain stability and adequate
load bearing capacity.
Integrity – the ability to resist the passage of flames and hot gasses
specified in AS 1530.4.
Insulation – the ability to maintain a temperature on the surface not
exposed to the furnace below the limits specified in AS 1530.4.
Safe and effective acceptance, handling and storage of building
materials involves:
Determining the effects (if any), of transportation on the materials
upon receipt/delivery of the materials on-site
Safely and correctly handling materials
Storing the materials appropriately and protecting the materials using
established storage/protection methods
Inspecting the materials for defects before installation and taking
appropriate action.
Occupational Health & Safety on site (WHS?)
Keep the working area clean and orderly to make movement of
materials safer and easier;
Observe all safety rules and regulations. The occupational health and
safety regulations will support the safe and healthy handling of
There is maintenance involved on plant and equipment, ensure this is
performed regularly in order to provide safe handling of materials;
Report any safety hazards immediately, and correct them yourself if
you are qualified to do so;
Store materials and equipment properly;
Storage of Materials
Never store building materials in front of doorways or emergency exits.
Storing materials in these areas creates trip hazards and can put lives at risk
in the event of a fire or when people need to evacuate quickly
Materials should be stored in areas close to the work area without interfering
with the movement of vehicles, pedestrians and other traffic.
Do not stack large quantities of bricks or timber on elevated work platforms
such as scaffolding. Scaffolding is only designed as a workstation; not a
storage area. The minimum amount of material to do the job at hand is all
that should be stacked on the scaffold.
Building materials should never be stacked on roadways, public verges,
footpaths, next to fire hydrants, or on access roads.
Store materials within the confines of the building site and in the conditions
recommended for the type of material.
Materials on Pallets
Large amounts of materials are often moved on pallets using hand trolleys or
forklifts. When stacking materials on pallets some very basic but important
safe working practices apply.
Bricks/Concrete Blocks
As with timber products, bricks and concrete blocks are delivered in tightly
strapped packs to building sites. This is to prevent movement and damage.
Plasterboard is easily damaged. Moisture or water contact with the paper
covering soaks through into the plaster, causing the sheeting to swell and
Transportation of Building Materials
The transportation of building materials is extremely important. The main
concerns are:
The possible damaging of building materials whilst in transport;
How the materials are transported in the manufacturing process;
How the materials are transported to the construction site.
Some guidelines to consider when choosing materials include:
Design for long life and adaptability, using durable low maintenance
Avoid building a bigger house than you need. This will save materials.
Modify or refurbish instead of demolishing or adding.
Ensure materials from demolition of existing buildings and construction
wastes are reused or recycled.
Use locally sourced materials (including materials salvaged on site) to
reduce transport.
Avoid wasteful material use.
Select materials that can be re-used or recycled easily at the end of their
lives using existing recycling systems.
Ordering Materials
There are numerous factors to consider when ordering materials including:
Sourcing suppliers;
Quality of materials;
Quality of service;
Delivery times,.
Points to consider when inspecting timber:
Grade and Grading Method
Moisture Content
Treated Timber
Why Test ?
To achieve certification by complying with current guidelines
and building regulations
To ensure products are fit for purpose
To find out why products are failing in use or during
To develop new materials and new products through
To solve patent disputes or resolve legal disputes
To benchmark against competitors’ products.
Why Test ?
To achieve certification by complying with current guidelines
and building regulations
To ensure products are fit for purpose
To find out why products are failing in use or during
To develop new materials and new products through
To solve patent disputes or resolve legal disputes
To benchmark against competitors’ products.
Test Available
Tension: used to determine the tensile strength of various materials like
metals and plastics.
Compression: to determine the strength of metals like concrete by
applying a range of compression forces to the materials.
Flex: to determine the flexure of materials, e.g. plastics, by applying
various bending forces.
Impact: to determine the impact performance (heavy loads) of materials.
Torsion: to test materials for bending and twists in materials.
Chemical testing: used to test the properties of concrete, mortar, plaster
and soil.
Structural: on-site testing for concrete floors, posts, bridges, steel columns
for load and, surface slip and skid, etc.
Building Product Accreditation
Building Product Accreditation is a system that allows a designer of an
innovative product (which passes the relevant tests, procedures etc.) to
apply for a Certificate of Accreditation by the Building Regulations
Advisory Committee (BRAC).
Testing – Concrete
One of the materials that can be tested on-site is concrete. There are two
separate tests performed on concrete.
Slump test – shows the workability of concrete (how easy it is to
use and place).
Compression test – measures the strength of concrete when it is
Testing – Timber
In general, there are two main factors that influence the durability of timber
in service. The first is the natural durability of the particular species.
The second is the type and degree of hazard to which the timber is
The natural durability of particular species is expressed as one of four
Durability Classes.
Class 1: Timbers of the highest natural durability.
Class 2: Timbers of high natural durability.
Class 3: Timbers of only moderate durability .
Class 4: Timbers of low durability.
In accordance with the Domestic Building Contract Act, defective work is
work that does not comply with the building warranty or fails to maintain
the contract standard.
Defect liability items must be obtained from the clients and defects must
be rectified before client sign-off can be obtained
Establish Records of Material Testing
Communication with regulatory authorities and other stakeholders
and to make sure of conformity with the relevant legislative,
organisational and contractual requirements
Maintenance of environmental controls and obligations
Allocation and management of human resources
Communication associated with facilitating dispute prevention and
Dispersal and scheduling of plant and equipment
Participation in on-site meetings
Management of expenditures
Establish Records of Material Testing
Site Diary
Site reports
Industry manuals
Quality control procedures
Complete site inspection checklists
Structure of Quality Management Systems
To achieve these purposes, quality systems consist of
three fundamental and simple elements:
Documents that describe what is done in the organisation
to identify and achieve the Customers' requirements.
An audit trail so that it is possible to see the system
working as described in the documents.
Records to prove that it has been working according to
Basic Quality Assurance
Quality Plan/Quality Manual
Inspection & Test Plan
Non Conformance Report
Quality Audits
Test points / Hold points
The cost of non-conformance is extremely hard to quantify.
It has been said that on average, for ever customer complaint,
there are 3 other customers who do not complain
Complete project administration processes
Finalisation processes
Practical completion inspection
Results of the inspection
Hand-over procedures
Certification requirements