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  • FIRST POST
    • torch_light
    • By torch_light 29th Jun 17, 12:06 PM
    • 30Posts
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    torch_light
    External cracks in brickwork
    • #1
    • 29th Jun 17, 12:06 PM
    External cracks in brickwork 29th Jun 17 at 12:06 PM
    I moved into a new build in March 2017, and on the rear corner of the house are some signs of cracking and movement. Wife says I am paranoid, I think I have a right to be concerned.

    Img. 1 shows the crack that starts between window frame, through the sill and down to the tap we had put in. Some of it is stepped some of it is straight through whole bricks.


    Image 2 shows the full extent of the run through past the tap and stepped down to the ground level. The damp course is high up due to the incline of the ground. Also this picture shows pretty clearly toward the bottom right of the wall the difference in the size of the joints. Some are as big as three fingers wide and some the bricks are almost butted against each other. This goes for both vertical and horizontal joints. Especially two course up from the ground and five bricks up from the ground.




    Pictures 3 and 4 show the same side of the building as the others but toward the very corner of the building, again way below the damp course and some stepping and also some bricks cracked. If I lean some weight onto the bricks I am pretty sure that I can feel those move slightly.




    Is it too soon after building to start to feel some concern? The soil is very heavy clay, is it a problem that it seems worse below the damp course? Some corner bricks look as though they have already been replaced below those that have cracked at the corner, would this perhaps worsen an already poor piece of work?

    Any help would be gratefully received, even if it is don't worry it is nothing!!!
Page 1
    • DonnySaver
    • By DonnySaver 29th Jun 17, 12:17 PM
    • 445 Posts
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    DonnySaver
    • #2
    • 29th Jun 17, 12:17 PM
    • #2
    • 29th Jun 17, 12:17 PM
    The fact that the cracks have gone through the actual bricks would be a concern to me.

    With new builds you do expect a certain amount of 'settling' to take place such as internal cracks in the plaster etc. I wouldn't expect to see exterior brickwork cracked though.

    Happy for someone to come along and tell me otherwise though ..
    • torch_light
    • By torch_light 29th Jun 17, 12:31 PM
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    torch_light
    • #3
    • 29th Jun 17, 12:31 PM
    • #3
    • 29th Jun 17, 12:31 PM
    Thanks for your reply.

    I was surprised by the amount of nail heads that have split through the plaster inside the house until I read that this is normal settling.

    We have feather like cracks in plaster and on ceilings but you can easily tell the difference between those that are settling and a bad problem indoors. These on the other hand are something that I am not so sure about.
    • FreeBear
    • By FreeBear 29th Jun 17, 1:06 PM
    • 1,881 Posts
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    FreeBear
    • #4
    • 29th Jun 17, 1:06 PM
    • #4
    • 29th Jun 17, 1:06 PM
    I was surprised by the amount of nail heads that have split through the plaster inside the house until I read that this is normal settling.
    Originally posted by torch_light
    British Gypsum (and other manufacturers) recommend using screws to fix platerboard nowadays. With cordless drills in just about every tradesman's tool bag, screwing is quick, easy, and less likely to damage the plasterboard.
    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.
    • teneighty
    • By teneighty 29th Jun 17, 1:12 PM
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    teneighty
    • #5
    • 29th Jun 17, 1:12 PM
    • #5
    • 29th Jun 17, 1:12 PM
    The stepped crack by the external steps looks like it might be following the line of a stepped damp proof course.

    The others look like thermal movement or expansion cracks,

    Certainly worth getting them checked out. Initially I would report it to the builder to investigate.
    • torch_light
    • By torch_light 29th Jun 17, 1:19 PM
    • 30 Posts
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    torch_light
    • #6
    • 29th Jun 17, 1:19 PM
    • #6
    • 29th Jun 17, 1:19 PM
    British Gypsum (and other manufacturers) recommend using screws to fix platerboard nowadays. With cordless drills in just about every tradesman's tool bag, screwing is quick, easy, and less likely to damage the plasterboard.
    Originally posted by FreeBear
    Sorry my bad I meant screwheads, in the office where I am sat, there are three showing above the window, two on one wall and one on another. It spoils the fresh paint with little round targets all over.

    The damp course is straight across inbetween the large aiplastic air brick and the spacer above it. The crack that runs to the floor doesn't seem to follow anything really.
    • Kiran
    • By Kiran 29th Jun 17, 2:21 PM
    • 1,221 Posts
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    Kiran
    • #7
    • 29th Jun 17, 2:21 PM
    • #7
    • 29th Jun 17, 2:21 PM
    Is there a gulley/drain underneath that tap? The block paving looks to be dipping severely at the base of the stairs. You/others don't leave the tap running onto the ground do you by any chance?


    A very rough guide with cracks is draw an imaginary line perpendicular to the crack and that will point you to the primary issue which looks to be under the tap.
    Some people don't exaggerate........... They just remember big!
    • torch_light
    • By torch_light 29th Jun 17, 4:52 PM
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    torch_light
    • #8
    • 29th Jun 17, 4:52 PM
    • #8
    • 29th Jun 17, 4:52 PM
    Is there a gulley/drain underneath that tap? The block paving looks to be dipping severely at the base of the stairs. You/others don't leave the tap running onto the ground do you by any chance?


    A very rough guide with cracks is draw an imaginary line perpendicular to the crack and that will point you to the primary issue which looks to be under the tap.
    Originally posted by Kiran
    The block paving has an awful up down dip to it, but it has only been down as long as the house. (since March). The tap is less than a month old, it doesn't drip and has a stop !!!! inside to turn it off to the mains if needs be. Can I blame the corner of the house? perhaps there are problems hidden away?
    • parking_question_chap
    • By parking_question_chap 29th Jun 17, 5:42 PM
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    parking_question_chap
    • #9
    • 29th Jun 17, 5:42 PM
    • #9
    • 29th Jun 17, 5:42 PM
    I think we are all guessing, probably best you get a groundworker/surveyor out to assess the drainage.

    One additional thing I will throw into the ring, as its not mentioned above. The mortar looks really solid, generally any settlement cracks would appear in the mortar as its designed to be weaker than the bricks. If your mortar is similar in strength to the bricks, you could find the bricks breaking instead. I will caveat my observation as its pure speculation and impossible to tell from a photo, but something worth checking.

    Block paving could just have been put down badly, doesn mean it must be dropping due to water.
    • Kiran
    • By Kiran 29th Jun 17, 7:47 PM
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    Kiran
    If it's only been down since March, and I'm presuming the paving didn't look like that when you moved in then my money is still on that being the problem area. Does you incoming water enter the house in this area by any chance? If so do you have a higher than average water bill?

    As the above post, without digging a trial hole it's difficult to diagnose the problem reading descriptions and looking at photos on small screen. Get the builder back to correct it before it gets worse.
    Some people don't exaggerate........... They just remember big!
    • torch_light
    • By torch_light 30th Jun 17, 10:06 AM
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    torch_light
    The block paving as far as I can tell hasn't moved.

    The water in pipe is at the front of the house.

    Parking question chap, there is plenty of grouting that has cracked, but its mostly stepped. Where this differs is on the corner where there is the 'block' of cracked bricks.

    I know it is all a bit of a shot in the dark, just thought I would see what the general thinking was/is.

    Thanks again for all your replies and taking the time.
    • torch_light
    • By torch_light 10th Jul 18, 11:32 AM
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    torch_light
    Further to earlier posts
    We are now in a position where the cracking on the outside is considerably worse.

    The crack underneath the sink in the kitchen floor is opening out and runs about 3 foot from the wall that has the cracked bricks to the start of the wooden flooring. It is about the thickness of a pen.


    After hearing numerous delays and reasons why the builder has not been back to take a look and make a start on remedial work we decided to phone the council contractors who signed off the work.


    They sent a rep round yesterday and while it isn't really their concern now he was very helpful.


    His first reaction was of the Phhhhffff! Don't like the look of that.


    His advice was to employ a damage assessor surveyor to come up with a plan of action rather than now leaving it in the hands of the builder. This now isn't just a case of removing a few bricks and re-pointing.


    He said that the best thing with the Surveyor was that we would then have an expert fighting our corner with no connection to either the builder, or the original surveyor who has the (10 year?) insurance on the property.


    This is all well and good but Mrs T sees escalating costs by hiring an independent guy to fight for us and decide on what the proper course of action will be.


    We are now being led to believe that remedial work will not put this right in the long term and that perhaps only going down to the footings and a rebuild will make this corner of the house good.

    The guy who visited us yesterday said that unless its done right its always going to be a problem. How are we to know if the builder does it right?

    Any and all advice will be greatly appreciated. There didn't seem a lot of point posting photos as they are just worse than the last ones.


    The property is still only 20 months old from the time of the foundations being put in.
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 10th Jul 18, 12:39 PM
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    Doozergirl
    I can't see your photos at all, let alone new ones.

    Your NHBC guarantee is there for a reason. They're not the easiest people to deal with, but they should send out a structural engineer who will monitor the damage. The sooner you do that, the better.

    I would certainly consider getting a structural engineer of your own - you've only only had a Building Control Officer around so far and they aren't qualified. Perhaps wait to see where NHBC takes you first.
    Last edited by Doozergirl; 10-07-2018 at 12:41 PM.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • torch_light
    • By torch_light 10th Jul 18, 1:34 PM
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    torch_light
    Thanks for the reply Doozergirl.


    The equivalant of the NHBC guy is happy for the builder to come along and put it right. He didn't seem bothered about coming to see the house and was happy to bounce it straight back to the builder.


    Is a structural engineer covered under the terms of the insurance? Will this be something that we are able to claim back as expenses? We are not really in a financial position to pay for someone as things stand, however if there was a chance further down the line of recouping lay out then we maybe able to cover it.



    Again thank you for your input as you can imagine we are very much flying by the seat of our pants here.
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 10th Jul 18, 2:18 PM
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    Doozergirl
    So what company provided the warranty? Who is "the equivalent of the NHBC guy"? Are you saying you have an architect's certificate (a professional consultant's certificate) and not a warranty? They don't give as much protection as NHBC. There is no warranty with them.

    Is this a small builder? When did you first ask them to come out?

    A builder cannot fix something without proper advice as to what the problem is. A structural engineer is needed. You may not have money, but it sounds like you have no one on your side at the moment at all.

    You need to read your paperwork to work out what the process should be and what your rights actually are.
    Last edited by Doozergirl; 10-07-2018 at 2:26 PM.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • torch_light
    • By torch_light 10th Jul 18, 2:35 PM
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    torch_light
    I have the Professional Consultants Certificates that shows there is a minimum amount of 500,000 of professional indemnity insurance. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists, and he has signed off 5 of these certificates at various stages through out the build.


    The 'builder' (lets call him Harry) is really just the money man in all of this, he is an electrician by trade but fronts the money for the projects. The 'we have no-one on our side' is a worry straight away in all of this, if Harry says that throwing jelly and ice cream at the cracks will fix it how are we to know better, we are not experts and I appreciate this.


    Mrs T is keeping a record of phone calls and texts. Harry has already had more than an acceptable amount of chances to take a look and see what he thinks. As soon as we made phone calls yesterday he was around having a look. Unfortuantly he can't come and take a look with his bricklayer because he (Harry) is on holiday but will be with us in ten days.


    The guy yesterday said in his opinion (35 years signing off work for the council) it is past the taking a look at it, and moved to needing a plan of action to put it right plan.


    Again thanks for your reply.
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 10th Jul 18, 3:40 PM
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    Doozergirl
    So you're covered by his professional indemnity, not a warranty. The certificate signs that it was built according to his plans but it doesn't provide you with a guarantee. I believe you need to prove his negligence.

    Let's hope the builder is genuine and fixes this promptly off his own back because I suspect that you will be paying for professional advice if he does not. In fact, I would be getting professional advice right now.

    Hopefully one of our other forumites knows a bit more about how to go about getting things done when there is a PCC.

    I would really like to see the pictures.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • torch_light
    • By torch_light 10th Jul 18, 5:49 PM
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    torch_light
    https://ibb.co/fqqpsT
    https://ibb.co/gxyaXT
    https://ibb.co/mNtymo


    The first one shows the black line following the cracks through bricks and mortar. The blue boxes are where the brick work has bulged outward.



    The second one shows the crack nearest the corner.


    Third picture is close up under the window.


    We have got in touch with an independent surveyor who because we are paying him will hopefully be fighting our corner, he is coming to take a look tomorrow.


    Harry is on holiday this week, but will take a look as soon as he is back and is talking about taking out some bricks to see what is happening inside.


    I can't help but think that as soon as one of the parties starts blaming the other for the error/mistake/problem that is when we are going to need Mr Independent the most.


    Had a family friend take a look at it this afternoon. Worked in the building trade as an architect and built three homes for himself, his opinion was that none of them will know what is happening until they get to the root of the problem and that might mean going back down as far as the footings if there is nothing obvious to see.
    • teneighty
    • By teneighty 10th Jul 18, 6:55 PM
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    teneighty
    After hearing numerous delays and reasons why the builder has not been back to take a look and make a start on remedial work we decided to phone the council contractors who signed off the work.


    They sent a rep round yesterday and while it isn't really their concern now he was very helpful.


    His first reaction was of the Phhhhffff! Don't like the look of that.

    Originally posted by torch_light
    This is all very confusing, the "council contractors who signed off the work", would that be the Building Control Department by any chance?

    If so might be worth getting some more information from them regarding the actual wall construction in that corner and details of the foundation inspections. If it was the local Council that information should all be on public record and available for you to inspect and probably copy.

    So potentially you have two routes to pursue, the Architectural Technologist who issued the PCC and/or the Building Control Department if the foundations turn out to be inadequate.
    • Lorian
    • By Lorian 10th Jul 18, 7:07 PM
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    Lorian
    I'm only a DIYer but I've seen a lot of cracks in my time (Fnar).

    in my opinion it certainly warrants professional investigation.
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