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    • virginblue4
    • By virginblue4 18th Sep 19, 5:04 PM
    • 31Posts
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    virginblue4
    Survey error - internal wall construction
    • #1
    • 18th Sep 19, 5:04 PM
    Survey error - internal wall construction 18th Sep 19 at 5:04 PM
    I’m after some advice if possible. My partner and I purchased our first property in December 2018. I chose to pay for a RICS building survey for peace of mind (as opposed to just a homebuyers survey or less).

    Prior to the survey, the surveyor contacted me asking if there were any specifics areas of interest he would like me to take a look at. My response was: “In terms of specific areas of interest, we did not come across any issues during our viewing so we have nothing in particular to highlight. I will mention however that we have a couple of potential plans in the short-medium term to build a stud wall between the living room and sitting room, and then remove the wall between the kitchen and the dining room. I have included existing and potential plans in this email showing what I am describing”.

    They then undertook the survey and in terms of the wall separating the kitchen and sitting room (the wall we wanted to remove) they stated the below (I have bolded the part I was most interested in):

    Section 6.4 - Internal Walls and Partitions

    ”At ground floor level, the internal walls are of masonry construction, with the exception of the partition between the kitchen and sitting room, where a dry lined, studwork wall was noted. At first floor level, the partitions are similarly a combination of masonry and studwork construction.

    It is permissible to form openings in load bearing walls. However, Building Regulations consent is required to ensure that adequate means of support is provided across the opening, and that the means of support is properly fixed in the adjacent structure. It is also important that when this work is undertaken, adequate localised support is provided to the structure to ensure that the risk of localised displacement is avoided. Plaster finishes to the internal walls are generally satisfactory, although we do anticipate that some localised repairs to plaster may be required upon future redecoration.

    There is some general cracking and distortion which is quite common in all property, particularly at the margins of the ceilings and around the doors and windows. This is caused by shrinkage and other normal building movement. This is not a matter that should cause you undue concern being largely cosmetic, and generally only careful preparation and cosmetic repair prior to redecoration should be anticipated”.

    That was the end of the section. I thought this was great (not knowing anything about walls, hence why I instructed a surveyor) I also assumed this meant it was not load bearing.

    Fast forward to September 2019 and we have just started the works. The kitchen was removed and they began work to remove the wall although very quickly found that the wall IS of masonry construction with plasterboard either side. Obviously the builders then stopped the work on this wall and carried out other works. It should be noted that there is no wall above this wall, however it is apparently supporting floor joists. We had a structural engineer visit yesterday to work out the calcs for an RSJ and will put an application into building control shortly. Obviously this was unexpected and will cause an increase in costs and likely extend the completion date.

    I emailed the surveyors yesterday with the below:

    “Good afternoon,

    You carried out a building survey at ‪(address)‬ in October 2018 (attached for reference).!

    At the bottom of page 30 / top of page 31 (Section C6.4) you state the below:

    "At ground floor level, the internal walls are of masonry construction, with the exception of the partition between the kitchen and sitting room, where a dry lined, studwork wall was noted.! At first floor level, the partitions are similarly a combination of masonry and studwork construction."

    We have just started renovations on the property and are having the partition between the kitchen and sitting room removed. However, it turns out the the wall is actually of masonry contruction. Obviously this was a complete surprise to us and is now going to cause a delay in the project and no doubt a substantial increase in the costs as we have had to arrange for a structural surveyor to run calculations, will have to pay for an RSJ and will need to work with building control.

    Where do we stand in terms of this? Your statement is quite clear that ground floor walls of are masonry construction with the exception of this parition.!

    Please can you advise urgently”.


    The surveyors emailed me back this afternoon and have said:

    “Good Afternoon,
    !
    Further to your email received today I can confirm that I have reviewed the file and the concerns raised and would respond as follows:
    !
    During the survey inspection the wall in question would not have been opened up in anyway and therefore an assumption would have been made on its actual construction, we have qualified further in the paragraph below that any internal alterations would have to be with the permission of the local authority with Building regulations approval being granted. !Have you sought such permission prior to the works commencing?
    !
    A wall either studwork or masonry can still have a load bearing capability and you should never make an assumption that a timber-stud wall would be non-load-bearing and prior to any alterations being undertaken you would need to assess the actual construction. !I trust that this clarifies any concern you may have had, if you wish for us to provide a fee quotation for the preparation of plans and the building regulation submission we would be more than happy to do so.
    !
    Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information”


    I am not really sure where I stand with this now. In all other areas of the survey (e.g. plumbing / electric / gas etc) they took away their responsibility by stating at the end of each paragraph to consult a professional in the trades as they are not professionals. However, they made no mention of this in section 6.4 internal walls and partitions. They did not state it was assumption it was a stud wall, they clearly stated all ground door walls were masonry with the exception of the all in question. So how am I meant to know that this is apparently an assumption? They should have made that clear. I’m not the expert here. Also they never said that I should seek the permission of the relevant building authority for internal alternations, only that I would need to seek their permission if it were a load bearing wall, which of course we didn’t think it was.

    Additionally I feel like they are putting me on the spot asking I had already sought permission from building regulations. I haven’t because I just thought it was a standard stud wall, however I am now obviously following correctly procedure by instructing a structural engineer and involving building control. I haven’t done anything wrong here, have I?

    Can anyone offer any advice as to what steps I can take. I’ve hired professionals who I feel are trying to use a get out clause and not accept that they’ve made a mistake. Do I have anything to work with, or do I just need to put this down to being a life lesson?

    Thanks in advance for any input! Apologies for the EXTREMELY long post, but I felt it was necessary to explain the whole situation.
Page 1
    • JimmyChanga
    • By JimmyChanga 18th Sep 19, 5:45 PM
    • 215 Posts
    • 117 Thanks
    JimmyChanga
    • #2
    • 18th Sep 19, 5:45 PM
    • #2
    • 18th Sep 19, 5:45 PM
    With what I've read I would have to agree with the surveyor. The construction type being plasterboard and stud does not mean it cannot be load bearing. I don't think they have indicated otherwise.
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 18th Sep 19, 6:53 PM
    • 27,718 Posts
    • 73,759 Thanks
    Doozergirl
    • #3
    • 18th Sep 19, 6:53 PM
    • #3
    • 18th Sep 19, 6:53 PM
    I didn't read all the detail, it was too long, but it wasn't really necessary, the surveyor is right.

    You should never make assumptions - the surveyor hasn't and is correct in their initial and subsequent comments, with the exception of the actual construction, which is largely irrelevant. It's quite possible that the same level of work could have been required even if it were wood.

    You need a better builder, not a better surveyor.

    You haven't done anything wrong in contacting a structural engineer and building control. You're supposed to give BC prior notice, but they'll be fine.
    Last edited by Doozergirl; 18-09-2019 at 6:58 PM.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • virginblue4
    • By virginblue4 18th Sep 19, 7:02 PM
    • 31 Posts
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    virginblue4
    • #4
    • 18th Sep 19, 7:02 PM
    • #4
    • 18th Sep 19, 7:02 PM
    With what I've read I would have to agree with the surveyor. The construction type being plasterboard and stud does not mean it cannot be load bearing. I don't think they have indicated otherwise.
    Originally posted by JimmyChanga
    Thanks for responding. Fair enough, I accept the load bearing part. I assumed (I have no knowledge in construction) that a stud wall wouldn’t be load bearing. Maybe it would have been clearer if he had stated it is of stud construction (although this does not necessarily mean it is not load bearing). It just seems strange that they cover themselves so much but not here. However, the surveyor was still wrong in claiming that this wall was the exception and was not of masonry construction when it is.
    • virginblue4
    • By virginblue4 18th Sep 19, 7:07 PM
    • 31 Posts
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    virginblue4
    • #5
    • 18th Sep 19, 7:07 PM
    • #5
    • 18th Sep 19, 7:07 PM
    I didn't read all the detail, it was too long, but it wasn't really necessary, the surveyor is right.

    You should never make assumptions - the surveyor hasn't and is correct in their initial and subsequent comments, with the exception of the actual construction, which is largely irrelevant. It's quite possible that the same level of work could have been required even if it were wood.

    You need a better builder, not a better surveyor.

    You haven't done anything wrong in contacting a structural engineer and building control. You're supposed to give BC prior notice, but they'll be fine.
    Originally posted by Doozergirl
    Thank you. The surveyor has made assumptions - he even said ‘an assumption was made on the actual construction’ although failed to tell me it was only an assumption in the actual survey. But I take your point about the same level of work may have still been required if it had been wood. I’m just not knowledgable in this area.

    Not sure why I’d need a better builder? He picked up on the issues as soon as works started, and has already organised and met with the structural surveyor. They’ve been great to be honest.

    I suppose it’s just unusual for a brick wall to be encapsulated in plasterboard so sounded completely hollow when knocked.

    Guess I’ll just have to accept this is a learning experience. Just seems a shame when I have no knowledge of construction hence why I instructed a professional.
    • FreeBear
    • By FreeBear 18th Sep 19, 8:56 PM
    • 3,074 Posts
    • 4,049 Thanks
    FreeBear
    • #6
    • 18th Sep 19, 8:56 PM
    • #6
    • 18th Sep 19, 8:56 PM
    I suppose it’s just unusual for a brick wall to be encapsulated in plasterboard so sounded completely hollow when knocked.
    Originally posted by virginblue4
    It is quite common to find walls stripped of the original plaster and then plasterboards slapped on. With dollops of adhesive applied at regular intervals, a wall can be boarded in under an hour - This method is called "dot & dab", and will sound hollow when tapped, thus giving the impression that it is a stud wall.
    Her courage will change the world.

    Treasure the moments that you have. Savour them for as long as you can for they will never come back again.
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 19th Sep 19, 12:12 AM
    • 27,718 Posts
    • 73,759 Thanks
    Doozergirl
    • #7
    • 19th Sep 19, 12:12 AM
    • #7
    • 19th Sep 19, 12:12 AM
    I'm suggesting a better builder because we check virtually everything with our structural engineer before starting because we don't take anything for granted.

    Experience, perhaps, teaches us not to take anything for granted. It's us that would be in trouble for upstairs, or worse, collapsing into downstairs.

    Dot and dab does sound hollow, but I can look
    at a floor plan and the expected joist spans and start to ask questions.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • JimmyChanga
    • By JimmyChanga 19th Sep 19, 10:29 AM
    • 215 Posts
    • 117 Thanks
    JimmyChanga
    • #8
    • 19th Sep 19, 10:29 AM
    • #8
    • 19th Sep 19, 10:29 AM
    Guess I’ll just have to accept this is a learning experience. Just seems a shame when I have no knowledge of construction hence why I instructed a professional.
    Had you advised your tradesman it was non-load bearing? I'm not a professional builder (though I like to think I am :-)) but even I would first check the above floor, lift up boards if necessary etc. That's what the builder should have done. As doozergirl said, it's really fault on his part.
    • stuart45
    • By stuart45 19th Sep 19, 3:16 PM
    • 304 Posts
    • 158 Thanks
    stuart45
    • #9
    • 19th Sep 19, 3:16 PM
    • #9
    • 19th Sep 19, 3:16 PM
    Any builder should be certain that a wall isn't load bearing before he starts the job.
    A timber stud wall even on the upper floors can be load bearing , carrying the floor joists below it, without there being a wall underneath.
    • vw100
    • By vw100 20th Sep 19, 8:50 PM
    • 231 Posts
    • 117 Thanks
    vw100
    A fairly large chimney breast which was plasterboarded over. A quick tap sounded hollow all over. I thought the chimney was actually smaller and that with the plasterboard they made the chimney structure larger for cosmetic reasons. When the plasterboard came off it was a huge brick chimney, 2 bricks deep in a mid 1980's house.

    Some walls may not be supporting walls, but they could be to there to provide lateral support or to delay/stop the spread of fire.
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