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Technical Questions

What is a site classification? A site classification is the term given to identify the soil type in accordance with the Australian Standard for Residential Footing and Slab Design (AS 2870). It is required for any new residential building work that involves a new footing and/or slab system, with the soil type represented by a letter: A, S, M, H, E, P. An A class site is a site with a soil type not prone to react to moisture changes (ie. sand), whereas a soil type given a H classification is Highly Reactive to moisture changes. The latter classification would require a more substantial footing and slab design to cater for this reactivity.

Who determines the site classification? The soil test and subsequent report can be done by a licensed soil tester, or an RPEQ engineer, however a soil tester cannot do the footing and slab design. This is the domain of the RPEQ engineer. In special circumstances, a builder can do the site classification if they can demonstrate vast building experience in the local area.

What does N2 or N3 mean? These terms represent the wind classification for the building site, and is critical to establish at the design stage. The N represents non-cyclonic (Brisbane to Hervey Bay), and the number is indicative of the wind speed (the higher the number, the greater the design wind speed). A wind classification with a C instead of an N represents a cyclonic area wind classification (coastal strip starting at Bundaberg heading north). Like the site classification, the process is set out in an Australia Standard, AS 4055, and like AS 2870, this standard is used for housing only. Commercial buildings are designed using the loading codes.

The design wind classification has a significant impact on bracing, tie-down, glazing, roof truss design to name just a few, so it is important to get it right at the design stage, otherwise costs can blow out if changes need to be made following a review by the building certifier.

Who determines the wind classification? The designer/builder can do this if he/she has been to site, but we recommend that an applicant engage the services of an RPEQ engineer to establish the wind classification.

What is a waterstop? This is the metal angle used at the doorway of a wet area (toilet, laundry, bathroom, wet area) to ensure a continuous waterproof system is maintained. It ensures any water tracking through the tile bed stops at the doorway and does not potentially migrate to other rooms.