Brick Spalling; is this a reason to abandon buying a house?

Hi all,

I'm buying my first home and the survey has picked up that a "large number" of bricks are spalling.  It says I should have a contractor look at it urgently.

The problem is that I can't find anyone willing to come look.  It's getting really frustrating - the contractors I've spoken to just aren't interested.

The house is 60 years old and the bricks a more yellowish colour than red.  The faces have blown on many bricks, and quite a few are crumbling away.  One corner of the house seems particularly bad.

Is anyone able to give me a ballpark of what issues like this could end up costing?  I don't know whether to give up and walk away.


  • stuart45
    stuart45 Posts: 3,799
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    It's easier to judge if you can put some photos on. You are probably looking at around £25 a brick to replace.
  • FreeBear
    FreeBear Posts: 14,229
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    edited 13 December 2023 at 8:47AM
    stuart45 said:
    It's easier to judge if you can put some photos on. You are probably looking at around £25 a brick to replace.
    Finding matching bricks can also be (ahem) fun. Modern bricks are a little smaller that the 1960s imperial ones. Fortunately, there are a few companies that specialise in reproduction bricks of the correct size. Prices are quite a bit higher as a result - 75p for a cheap facing brick from B&Q, or £2 for a colour matched brick form a specialist - Worth doing if you want to maintain the character of a building.
    Had to rebuild a soldier course over a window/door last year. Could have used a cheap brick from B&Q, but would have ended up with 10-12mm wide mortar joints. Picked through a pallet of imperial sized soft reds at a local brick merchant (got one that caters to the heritage building crowd), and have a decent match along with ~6mm mortar joints (in lime). Whilst the new bricks are not weathered like the originals, they don't stand out screaming "modern replacements".
    Could have gone to a local reclamation yard for the bricks, but previous expeditions only turned up damaged or poorly matching bricks - Can be a crap shoot with some of these suppliers, and the prices are not far short of new. 

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  • twopenny
    twopenny Posts: 5,290
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    60yrs doesn't seem that old in the life of a brick.
    Makes you wonder if the others will do the same with time.
    How are the other houses in the area? Have a casual walk round the street, look for replaced bricks and signs of work.
    I found walking a dog when doing this was ideal. You didn't look suspicious.  :D .

    The only normal people you know are the ones you don’t know very well

  • stuart45
    stuart45 Posts: 3,799
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    edited 13 December 2023 at 9:54AM
    A lot of houses built in the 60's and 70's used LBC Flettons. These weren't the most frost resistant around, so spalling after 60 years is not unknown with them. A lot depends on your climate, and how exposed the walls are. Also CWI, has sometimes made the problem worse, as the outer skin doesn't dry out as quickly. 
    LBC were churning out so many bricks back then, so some batches weren't as good as others. 
    You might be better to do as FreeBear has suggested in previous posts and look for a short bricklaying course at your local adult education centre.

  • TELLIT01
    TELLIT01 Posts: 16,232
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    If the survey says it needs to be addressed urgently, and you can't find anybody even to look at the job, my inclination would be to walk away.
  • Well, it's not going to get any better, and could get a lot worse. Depends on what the other attractions of the house are, but I would not buy it. 
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