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    • doug66
    • By doug66 9th Oct 17, 11:19 AM
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    doug66
    Council failed to ensure regulations were enforced
    • #1
    • 9th Oct 17, 11:19 AM
    Council failed to ensure regulations were enforced 9th Oct 17 at 11:19 AM
    Not sure if anyone here can help me but here's the problem.
    My house, like all the other houses on my street, were built by the same builder in the mid 70's. Most of them are to the same design.
    In the past year a couple of my neighbours have had to have lintels installed above windows (8' wide) and patio doors (9' wide) because the builder didn't bother to put any in and the brickwork above them is now starting to collapse. As my home is the same design I don't suppose it will be long before mine does the same.
    As far as I'm concerned the local councils building control officer shouldn't have signed the properties off without lintels, but he or she did.
    They are trying to say that it's none of their responsibility as they subcontracted the work out to a 3rd party and they no longer have the records, my argument is that they should have ensured that the 3rd party was qualified to do the work and actually did the work as required, it was the responsibility of the council to ensure that the houses were built in accordance with the regulations.
    Anyone have any advice on this?
Page 1
    • aneary
    • By aneary 9th Oct 17, 11:23 AM
    • 816 Posts
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    aneary
    • #2
    • 9th Oct 17, 11:23 AM
    • #2
    • 9th Oct 17, 11:23 AM
    Nearly 50 years later I don't think you will get very far.

    All records would have been on paper and I don't they will have the records anymore
    • Browntoa
    • By Browntoa 9th Oct 17, 11:24 AM
    • 31,943 Posts
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    Browntoa
    • #3
    • 9th Oct 17, 11:24 AM
    • #3
    • 9th Oct 17, 11:24 AM
    May not have been council inspection in the first place

    Many builders employ private building inspector (who are meant to work to the same standard

    Still builder's responsibility regardless
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    • societys child
    • By societys child 9th Oct 17, 11:58 AM
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    societys child
    • #4
    • 9th Oct 17, 11:58 AM
    • #4
    • 9th Oct 17, 11:58 AM
    I remember brick lintels (bricks on end) still being constructed, 50 years ago, on the outer leaf, with the inner leaf being supported by nothing much more than a length of steel angle. When coupled with thick wooden window frames, which added support, this appears to have been acceptable.
    Do you have any plans/ drawings, showing what lintels should have been used at the time?

    Seen plenty of houses with tell-tale signs above windows when the wooden frames have later been changed for aluminium or uPVC, without the addition of a new lintel.

    • beeg0d
    • By beeg0d 9th Oct 17, 12:05 PM
    • 143 Posts
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    beeg0d
    • #5
    • 9th Oct 17, 12:05 PM
    • #5
    • 9th Oct 17, 12:05 PM
    You will proberlly find the house did have lintels of sourts but just dosnet now.

    In the 70's the use of concrete lintels over windows/doors were rare, What was more common was the wooden windows would act as the lintels (the top beam of the window frame would be structual). The problem occurs in the 80's/90's when people started taking the wooden frames out and replacing them with UPVC. People who didnt realise the window frames were structual would simply replace the wood with cheap upvc and over time the house would start falling around the window. When all that was needed was a structual upvc frame, This is the reason why now when you change a window would need either building control approval or FENSA.
    • eddddy
    • By eddddy 9th Oct 17, 12:08 PM
    • 5,548 Posts
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    eddddy
    • #6
    • 9th Oct 17, 12:08 PM
    • #6
    • 9th Oct 17, 12:08 PM
    In general, council building control departments aren't liable if they fail to spot a breach of building regs.

    Here's a case that went to court: https://www.rollits.com/news/articles/can-i-sue-the-building-control-officer.aspx

    Also, sometimes builders use 'structural window frames'. These are designed to be strong enough to support the weight of the brickwork etc above them - so no lintel is required.

    So it could be that the structural window frames have failed (rotted?) after 40 to 50 years.

    Or... have the houses in question had replacement windows fitted? If so, it could be that 'cowboy' window fitters replaced structural window frames with ordinary window frames.
    • TBagpuss
    • By TBagpuss 9th Oct 17, 12:46 PM
    • 6,084 Posts
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    TBagpuss
    • #7
    • 9th Oct 17, 12:46 PM
    • #7
    • 9th Oct 17, 12:46 PM
    Timing would also be an issue. Generally, you only have 6 years from when the negligence occurs (or from the date you first become aware of it, if later) to make any claim. You also have to show that the person or organisation which you allege was negligent had a duty of care to you.
    (I am not aware of different time limits for building claims but that doesn't mean that there aren't any! )

    Did you have a survey when you bought the house, and what did it say about the lintels?

    Have you had any advice to see whether there is an issue with your house?
    • G_M
    • By G_M 9th Oct 17, 1:03 PM
    • 42,299 Posts
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    G_M
    • #8
    • 9th Oct 17, 1:03 PM
    • #8
    • 9th Oct 17, 1:03 PM
    Like beeg0d above, I suspect the problem is replacement of the original structural windows by upvc double glazed windows.

    Have the properties with the problem all got replacement windows?
    • moneyistooshorttomention
    • By moneyistooshorttomention 9th Oct 17, 1:22 PM
    • 14,227 Posts
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    moneyistooshorttomention
    • #9
    • 9th Oct 17, 1:22 PM
    • #9
    • 9th Oct 17, 1:22 PM
    Like beeg0d above, I suspect the problem is replacement of the original structural windows by upvc double glazed windows.

    Have the properties with the problem all got replacement windows?
    Originally posted by G_M
    I would tend to agree with this.

    I've had similar in my last house - ie a Victorian house that had had its original windows replaced by a previous owner with aluminium single-glazed windows.

    Cue for me coming along in the 1980s and thinking "Time to replace those windows with upvc double-glazed ones" and wondering what on earth had happened when the fitters were standing there looking nonplussed when I went into a room to find out why I'd just heard a noise and they were standing around looking at the gap in the wall that had just appeared over one of the old windows they'd just taken out

    At which point I thought "This is between previous owners of this house and these fitters now and nowt to do with me" and left the fitters to it to figure out how best to deal with this unexpected issue (which, in hindsight, seems to have consisted of them just putting up a wider upvc "top" to the window than they had probably planned on - to hide the hole in the wall).

    It's taken some while after the event and a bit of piecing together on my part to figure out what happened there/what previous owners did/what the window fitters did (ie nothing basically). What should have happened at that point in time is the window fitter should have known what had happened/explained to me what had happened/arranged to have it sorted one way or another and it would have been established just who paid for the previous owners' lintels (whether it was the window fitters or me).

    In hindsight - and knowing what I do now about what happened there - then I'd have probably thought "I'd better deal with the previous owners' omissions there - and have a concrete lintel put in over each of the windows concerned" and had to just accept I'd just paid a "previous owner bill" for them.
    Last edited by moneyistooshorttomention; 09-10-2017 at 1:27 PM.
    New Year's Resolution already made -

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    • EachPenny
    • By EachPenny 9th Oct 17, 1:52 PM
    • 3,298 Posts
    • 6,081 Thanks
    EachPenny
    As far as I'm concerned the local councils building control officer shouldn't have signed the properties off without lintels, but he or she did.
    They are trying to say that it's none of their responsibility as they subcontracted the work out to a 3rd party and they no longer have the records, my argument is that they should have ensured that the 3rd party was qualified to do the work and actually did the work as required, it was the responsibility of the council to ensure that the houses were built in accordance with the regulations.
    Originally posted by doug66
    Just to clarify - are the council saying that they have now contracted building control out, or that this specific housing project was contracted out?

    If it was contracted out in the 1970's then it would be a little unusual, but the council should still have records.

    If they mean Building Control is now contracted out, then the contractor should still hold the records on the council's behalf.

    But regardless, you cannot really do anything now because the chances are the building complied with the regulations and methods of construction in use at the time.

    Many historic bay window constructions rely on the ground floor window frames to support the first floor bay. Changing any window is a risky business unless you know how the wall above is supported.
    "In the future, everyone will be rich for 15 minutes"
    • 00ec25
    • By 00ec25 9th Oct 17, 1:55 PM
    • 5,561 Posts
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    00ec25
    t was the responsibility of the council to ensure that the houses were built in accordance with the regulations.
    Originally posted by doug66
    indeed

    but what were the regulations at the time they were built? Have you looked?
    I remember brick lintels (bricks on end) still being constructed, 50 years ago, on the outer leaf, with the inner leaf being supported by nothing much more than a length of steel angle. When coupled with thick wooden window frames, which added support, this appears to have been acceptable.
    Originally posted by societys child
    exactly how one of mine is built (1955 ex council house)

    no question at all about it being built to the building regulations in place at that time comprising a soldier course of bricks across the window on the outer leaf and, as you say, angle iron for the inner course. No lintel. And yes, some of them are now bowing and having "modern" lintels retrospectively installed
    Last edited by 00ec25; 09-10-2017 at 1:58 PM.
    • lincroft1710
    • By lincroft1710 9th Oct 17, 3:28 PM
    • 10,039 Posts
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    lincroft1710
    Anyone have any advice on this?
    Originally posted by doug66
    Yes. Forget it. It's a complete non-starter.
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 9th Oct 17, 3:40 PM
    • 24,070 Posts
    • 66,682 Thanks
    Doozergirl
    Yes. Forget it. It's a complete non-starter.
    Originally posted by lincroft1710
    Agreed.

    Apart from the common factor of mid-century houses using the windows themselves for structural stability, current Building Regulations didn't even exist in the 70s with no clear leglislation across the country.

    It would be interesting trying to sue a Local Authority under a current law that didn't exist when the house was built.

    All houses move. No one is going to be responsible for anything after 50 years.

    The person responsible is the buyer when buying. Caveat Emptor.

    This post is just evidence of blame culture.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • doug66
    • By doug66 12th Oct 17, 3:46 PM
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    doug66
    The requirement to use lintels or other supports goes back to the early 1900's, most were concrete. Steel became popular after wwII.
    Support can either be lintels (steel or concrete - not wood), reinforced bricks (upright with steel rods running through them) or support frames.
    For those examples where pvc windows were installed - Fensa was set up to ensure that registered installers checked that the support were sufficient when the old windows were removed, if not then they had to install additional support.
    Building regs go back a long way too and the nhbc scheme was set up in the 30's
    The houses in question were built with the patio in place.
    • davidmcn
    • By davidmcn 12th Oct 17, 3:58 PM
    • 6,270 Posts
    • 6,055 Thanks
    davidmcn
    The requirement to use lintels or other supports goes back to the early 1900's, most were concrete. Steel became popular after wwII.
    Support can either be lintels (steel or concrete - not wood), reinforced bricks (upright with steel rods running through them) or support frames.
    For those examples where pvc windows were installed - Fensa was set up to ensure that registered installers checked that the support were sufficient when the old windows were removed, if not then they had to install additional support.
    Building regs go back a long way too and the nhbc scheme was set up in the 30's
    The houses in question were built with the patio in place.
    Originally posted by doug66
    None of this is relevant. Building Control don't owe a duty of care to whoever might own the property 40 years in the future.
    • martinsurrey
    • By martinsurrey 12th Oct 17, 4:04 PM
    • 3,225 Posts
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    martinsurrey
    Support can either be lintels (steel or concrete - not wood), reinforced bricks (upright with steel rods running through them) or support frames.
    Originally posted by doug66
    haha, you really think that wood was NEVER used for lintels, with additional support provided by the box frame of the original sash windows?

    It was in fact the most common method of supporting windows until after the war.

    and by the way, NHBC was a voluntary scheme, not a requirement, in the 1960's only 25% of new homes were covered.

    its a fact that there were no national building regulations until the 1960's, just a patchwork of local bylaws, and even in the 60's the regulations were pretty light.

    read this for a brief history

    http://www.buildinghistory.org/regulations.shtml
    • glasgowdan
    • By glasgowdan 12th Oct 17, 4:11 PM
    • 2,640 Posts
    • 2,948 Thanks
    glasgowdan
    The requirement to use lintels or other supports goes back to the early 1900's, most were concrete. Steel became popular after wwII.
    Support can either be lintels (steel or concrete - not wood), reinforced bricks (upright with steel rods running through them) or support frames.
    For those examples where pvc windows were installed - Fensa was set up to ensure that registered installers checked that the support were sufficient when the old windows were removed, if not then they had to install additional support.
    Building regs go back a long way too and the nhbc scheme was set up in the 30's
    The houses in question were built with the patio in place.
    Originally posted by doug66
    If you're trusting google for all your answers then why ask on here? I think you have a very clear answer anyway and it's probably not worth spending any more time on this.
    • martinsurrey
    • By martinsurrey 12th Oct 17, 4:14 PM
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    martinsurrey
    Originally posted by martinsurrey
    and for a bit of a more detailed approach, the Act you need to understand is

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1965/1373/pdfs/uksi_19651373_en.pdf

    the Building Regulations Act 1965.

    structural wood is covered in D14 on page 32 of the PDF, which leads you to CP112 :1952.

    which is British standard 112 :1952.

    so structural wood is fine as long as it met those standards.

    now CP112 is hard to find online for free, but when you buy it, you'll find structural wooden lintels are allowed.
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