What will the Chartered Engineer be looking for?

It is advisable that the Engineer is completely independent of the property builder and any other party involved. This investigation must consider all possibilities that may give rise to the observed cracking.
These include the possibility of simple shrinkage from thermal movement, ground settlement, poor construction and other structural defects. The Engineer should prepare a report on the findings of the investigation in accordance with the defined protocols and a concise conclusion as to the cause of the noted defects.

If the report is inconclusive or if the cracks are small or aesthetic in nature, then a crack and floor monitoring protocol should be implemented, for a period of not less than six months. If the cracking is severe, then a sampling and testing protocol should be implemented. A sample should be taken from the pyritic area and tested for pyrite reactions. This testing should be carried out in a comprehensive manner.

Although pyrite may be confirmed as present in the sample, it must be shown that the pyrite has expanded and is causing heave, resulting in structural damage. From the results of all the above, one can form a definitive opinion as to what is occurring. Naturally, other side issues such as foundation type & form of house construction should be considered. It is vital that the initial report compiled by the Engineer addresses any other issues that may give rise to the discernible cracking.

Although the general house insurer should be informed of the presence of pyrite, a claim for loss in cases of pyrite will most likely be rejected on the grounds of bad workmanship and unsuitable construction materials. However structural guarantee schemes such as Premier Guarantee in general provide a level of cover for damage arising from defective materials.