Surveyor’s discovery prevents home collapse
Unearthing more than we bargained for
Peter Cox has been preserving, maintaining and repairing Britain’s homes for over 63 years. We recognise our duty of care to homeowners and it was with this in mind we had to deliver some unexpected and unwanted news to a homeowner in Bristol recently.
Branch Manager Jeremy Johnson explains: “We had set out to install a French drain for the customer who had reported problems with damp. However, while excavating for the drain we found extremely worrying sub-standard foundations to the property. It was not the news our customer wanted but having already started the excavation we were keen to ensure a cost effective and safe solution for the client.”
A Timely Intervention
Sub-standard foundations cannot be ignored as they could cause considerable structural damage to a property including subsidence. Underpinning is usually the solution which means increasing the depth of the foundations to the building. It is work that must be carried out carefully and safely by professionals as if done incorrectly, it could actually cause very real risk of structural damage or even collapse of the home.
The Peter Cox surveyors worked closely with a structural engineer to excavate the soil beneath the existing foundation and replace it with concrete. This was done very slowly in a series of sections and once we were satisfied the foundations had been made safe we could continue with the rest of the work.
This included blocking an open well at the front of the property and providing a concrete support to the garden wall.
Inside, our original inspection had concluded the rising damp was due to high external ground levels which have caused deterioration to internal decorations and plasterwork. Adjacent timbers were also considered at risk from attack by fungal decay and the presence of ‘Black Spot Fungi’ indicated a condensation problem.
In order to tackle the problems the team removed the main fireplace hearth and replastered the back of the fireplace. We installed a new oak section central beam to form a fire beam and repaired five floor joist ends with pre-treated soft wood timber. We also installed a chemical damp proof course incorporating our Peter Cox DryWall Diffusion Process to walls on the ground floor.
Jeremy said: “Our damp proof course can be installed in solid walls from just one side of the wall, which means less disturbance. Once the walls had been re-plastered it was essential our ‘DryWall’ salt retardant coating system was used in order to prevent reoccurrence of the problem.”
We applied a vapour proof slurry coating to the wall-floor intersection up to the damp proof course installation level. This jointing technique considerably reduces moisture vapour condensing on both the underside of plasterwork and the rear surfaces of skirting boards, extending their life span.
A Potential Disaster Was Avoided
So what had started as a relatively simple task of treating damp had become a major job for our team and of course for the homeowners, who after the initial shock had worn off, did recognise that our discovery had been a ‘blessing in disguise’.
“The discovery of sub-standard foundations in this property highlights the importance of employing professional surveyors to carry out repair work on your home,” said Jeremy. “If we had not found the problem the homeowners would eventually have suffered from subsidence which would have resulted in considerable financial outlay to put right – or worst case scenario could have caused the house to collapse!”