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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 2
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 10th Jul 18, 8:31 PM
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    Doozergirl
    Were there any trees removed from the site? What was there before the house? Have you noticed any change now that it's getting very dry?

    Like ten eighty, I was going to suggest pulling out the building regulations drawings that were approved and also asking to see the file on what was inspected. I'm not sure if LABC take photos but our Approved Inspectors certainly do.

    A question to ask is whether the soil was sampled before the foundations were dug or whether it was just presumed that 1 metre was sufficient.
    Last edited by Doozergirl; 10-07-2018 at 8:35 PM.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • torch_light
    • By torch_light 10th Jul 18, 10:12 PM
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    torch_light
    The first visit we have had was from Building Control but they are now outsourced but only work for the council so I am led to believe. They signed off the work on behalf of the Council, do I have this right?


    I looked at the DBCP for my local area, but the paperwork I have is certainly not from this company/department.


    There were no trees on the site before it was cleared, there were small lock ups and small garages. We checked google because maps still shows the site pre-build.


    The hot weather doesn't seem to have made any difference except the thing that has surprised us is that the bottom three or four course of bricks toward the corner still seem to be damp, at least to my eyes, but if they had built on a water course or an underground spring we would have signs of water elsewhere. I mean the bricks and the building can only soak up so much. There would be signs of running water even if it was at the other end of the garden. No?



    Funny you should mention the foundations, because of the hard clay in the area, they had to go down a lot further than they normally would have done Harry has mentioned the depth but I would be guessing. Are soil samples something that is normally done on a new build, likewise will there be a photographic record?


    I have been in touch with the Independent Surveyor (Ian) and he is happy to come and take a look tomorrow as a free visit. He should have more knowledge about which direction we want to be going with this.



    Likewise with teneightys information I didn't even consider the possibility of there being a file somewhere. Is it just a case of asking to see it?


    Again thanks for all your input as you can imagine it has started to become more serious now we have called people in to take a look.
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 10th Jul 18, 10:36 PM
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    Doozergirl
    Acivico tend to run a lot of building control departments on behalf of local authorities. Whoever carried out the inspections will have a file with notes and drawings. Anything you can get hold of will help anyone helping you. It's really a structural engineer that you need. What area are you in?

    Water doesn't just come from the ground. It could be a leak from your drains or from rainwater goods. If the ground moves then drains can break.

    Is there still no movement in the block paving?
    Last edited by Doozergirl; 10-07-2018 at 10:38 PM.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • parking_question_chap
    • By parking_question_chap 12th Jul 18, 6:51 PM
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    parking_question_chap
    I would expect if you have not had rain for a while this might have made the situation worse, given you mention its a clay area (notice there are quite a few posts on cracks in this forum recently). Im not an expert but I would be interested to know what happens if you have several days rain.


    Hope they sort this for you promtly.
    • Furts
    • By Furts 13th Jul 18, 6:49 AM
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    Furts
    The first photo speaks volumes. Far be it from me to snag your new build, but that is some grim and shoddy work in all sorts of ways. Bricklaying, jointing, pointing, levels, steps, railings, under floor vents, salts, brick selection ... dreadful! If there is no NHBC Warranty, or equivalent, then I am left at a loss for words. Golden Rule number one in new home buying is never rely on an Architects Certificate, or similar.

    You have taken an enormous risk which is fine if you know what you are taking on. Life is all about risk analysis, costs and so on. However you have gone ahead without having any concept of how your home should be built, nor the procedures that should be in place. To me this is deeply worrying.

    The cracks should not be there, and they are a concern to me. But skimming through your saga and my conclusion is problems are inevitable.
    • Furts
    • By Furts 13th Jul 18, 7:21 AM
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    Furts
    Pondering your situation, I see this ending up in Court. The chances of you making a claim on your Arch Tech PII I put close to zero. Besides, if this person is dodgy he could wind up his company first.

    Going after Building Control is pointless - you only have to research legal precedent and the clauses of the Regulations. Here I also speak through bitter, personal experience - I once had a battle over my defective home.

    The likely scenario is you fund the repairs then try to reclaim from others. The beauty with this approach is you pick your professionals, you vet their work, you pick your contractors, you get their work thoroughly inspected and this time round things get done properly.

    Now two negatives. How likely is the money man to reimburse you if you win your case? Plus, rebuilding new homes can have eye watering costs. I have been there too, and I have personal experience of physically doing this.

    De-value, selling and blight are all topics that you also need to factor in as part of your appraisal here.
    • tonyh66
    • By tonyh66 13th Jul 18, 7:31 PM
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    tonyh66
    Thats the worst display of bricklaying I have ever seen did he point them with his elbow?
    I would take all the advice above regarding getting an independant surveyor that wall is heading for next door (quickly) and you need expert verification.
    Phone your building insurance company, hopefully you have legal cover, your going to need it.
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 14th Jul 18, 9:02 AM
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    Doozergirl
    Not sure what happened to the OP, but looking at the block paving again, I'm sure it's dipping.

    Furts, I didn't want to go as far as you, but I agree Unless the builder puts his hands up and fixes it out of his sense of responsibility, there's going to be an uphill battle.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • Furts
    • By Furts 14th Jul 18, 12:58 PM
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    Furts
    Not sure what happened to the OP, but looking at the block paving again, I'm sure it's dipping.

    Furts, I didn't want to go as far as you, but I agree Unless the builder puts his hands up and fixes it out of his sense of responsibility, there's going to be an uphill battle.
    Originally posted by Doozergirl

    OP has not come back to update. and so much remains a mystery. Self build? Cash purchase? Mortgage conditions? Contracts with whom? Covering what small print? and so on. The overwhelming mystery is new home purchase has followed established fundamentals for 80 years. The system works, albeit with quirks. However, OP evaded all this by going for a Certificate and was also involved with a money man who fronted the build. A recipe for disaster and disaster is happening. Why has this come about? Who has been failing here apart from OP? And how have they failed?


    Add to this why is OP procrastinating over repairs? If the money man decides to wind up his business as time ticks by, then the future does look bleak. With potential repairs in tens of thousands winding up is a logical response.


    Then consider fundamentals. OP is concerned about brickwwork but the patio, steps and all works including block paving need renewal.. At the same time the apparent damp in the walls can be accessed, investigated and possibly rebuilt.



    The elephant in the room is the block and beam fllooring. Clearly this is defective, but nobody knows to what extent until the the walls are opened up. Repairs are definitely needed but it is possible the floor needs renewing. This in turn means OP has to vacate the home.


    I see no easy, quick, way forward for OP. What I do see is a blighted property that was originally so badly built that it may be unsaleable now. Which leaves the home worth little.
    Last edited by Furts; 14-07-2018 at 2:20 PM.
    • torch_light
    • By torch_light 14th Jul 18, 3:31 PM
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    torch_light
    OP has not come back to update. and so much remains a mystery. Self build? Cash purchase? Mortgage conditions? Contracts with whom? Covering what small print? and so on. The overwhelming mystery is new home purchase has followed established fundamentals for 80 years. The system works, albeit with quirks. However, OP evaded all this by going for a Certificate and was also involved with a money man who fronted the build. A recipe for disaster and disaster is happening. Why has this come about? Who has been failing here apart from OP? And how have they failed?

    Add to this why is OP procrastinating over repairs? If the money man decides to wind up his business as time ticks by, then the future does look bleak. With potential repairs in tens of thousands winding up is a logical response.

    Then consider fundamentals. OP is concerned about brickwwork but the patio, steps and all works including block paving need renewal.. At the same time the apparent damp in the walls can be accessed, investigated and possibly rebuilt.

    The elephant in the room is the block and beam fllooring. Clearly this is defective, but nobody knows to what extent until the the walls are opened up. Repairs are definitely needed but it is possible the floor needs renewing. This in turn means OP has to vacate the home.


    I see no easy, quick, way forward for OP. What I do see is a blighted property that was originally so badly built that it may be unsaleable now. Which leaves the home worth little.
    Originally posted by Furts

    Hey there forum folks, its been a busy week I'm sorry I didn't get back sooner.


    Where to start?


    So I bit the bullet and called in Jude the Chartered Surveyor with more letters after his name then actually in his name.

    His initial and free assessment was that he was more concerned with the diagonal cracks that meant the whole lot was shifting right as you look at my picture. There could be numerous reasons for this, including footings, thermal contraction, lack of brickwork being tied in properly but he didn't want to elaborate until he had done a full and proper assessment on the building, (which means that he is in our employ), he said that it isn't how it should be and getting it put to how it should be would be where he would head.


    At least hearing it from a professional with no interest in what is happening and made us realise where we are at.


    Harry is coming over on Monday to take a look, (from what he has said they will be taking out a few bricks and seeing if there is a problem in the cavity or behind the outside wall. No major pulling about just a look to assess what is happening). While the bricks are out it seems prudent to pay Jude to come back for a full and proper inspection and have him take a look at it.

    Onto Fursts questions, Harry originally bought the piece of land to have built a house by sub-contracted brickies, plasterers, sparkies etc for his own family, when his wife wasn't happy with it for reasons unbeknownst to me, the house was put on the open market.


    This is not the first new build that he has had done for him, he has been involved in at least 8 other new builds. We viewed another of his with a view to purchase but that fell through.


    The house was bought the conventional way through a mortage lender after the build was completed. We never had any input into the build while it was going on.


    We are not in a position to sink possibly tens of thousands of pounds of our own money into putting this right. It isn't a case of procrastinating on our part, we have numerous phone logs, texts and emails to Harry asking him to come and assess what is happening, we are not the professionals and if someone says that its just new building settling or whatever, that is what you are more ready to believe than thinking that the whole corner foundation is substandard and that everything below DCP is moving away from the rest of the property.


    We are just buyers who bought the house in the belief that all the proper paperwork was in place and that all would be ok if, God forbid, a problem presented itself. Please remember that we have only been living in the house for 16 months. Neither of us have a background in building or engineering, we are now only making noises, because it is becoming visibly worse, when and how else would we have known that it was a problem?

    As for the standard of the workmanship in all honesty a brick is a brick is a brick to me. I paid professionals, (the mortgage lenders) to survey the house, it was more of a concern for us if the garden was the right size and the rooms were what we were after. Substandard pointing wasn't on the list of concerns because we have no knowledge of such things.

    As far as we knew we didn't skip any certification or guarantees or the suchlike, we done what most people would do, found somewhere we liked the look of, contacted the bank for the mortgage, and bought the place.


    I understand that there are people with greater experience on the finer points of brick-weave and pointing, but not everyone is lucky enough to be in that boat. If you don't place some faith in the experts then who do you go to if your understanding falls short on some of the issues that need looking at.

    Sorry if I am defending my position in this a bit over enthusiastically it has been a very trying week.

    Thanks again for all your inputs.
    • torch_light
    • By torch_light 14th Jul 18, 3:38 PM
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    torch_light
    Not sure what happened to the OP, but looking at the block paving again, I'm sure it's dipping.

    Furts, I didn't want to go as far as you, but I agree Unless the builder puts his hands up and fixes it out of his sense of responsibility, there's going to be an uphill battle.
    Originally posted by Doozergirl

    I wondered about that from quite early on Doozergirl but was assured that settling occurs with such things.

    Also two of the slabs on the steps have cracked through, but again I was told that the house couldn't exert enough pressure laterally to make slates crack. I wish I had a photo from when we first moved in because I will never convince myself that they were like it the whole time.


    It already feels like an uphill battle, the Technical Architect who signed off for the building inspections along the way couldn't keep further from us if he jumped on the next plane for New Zealand. If it had been on my watch, I would have fronted it up and been here to take a look asap, not provide Harry's phone number so we could contact him.
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 14th Jul 18, 3:49 PM
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    Doozergirl
    Houses do settle onto their foundations. I think it's fair to say that isn't regular settlement. That is a problem.

    Driveways don't settle. They would move if they'd been laid really badly without compacted hardcore etc, but I wouldn't call that settling! The dipping that I think I can see is too great and too much of a coincidence in conjunction with the cracking.

    I really think you meed a structural engineer on your side. I was asking where you were on the tiny chance that mine covered the area and I could recommend him. Have you spoken to anyone else yet or just the designer and builder involved?
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • EachPenny
    • By EachPenny 14th Jul 18, 4:28 PM
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    EachPenny
    Onto Fursts questions, Harry originally bought the piece of land to have built a house by sub-contracted brickies, plasterers, sparkies etc for his own family, when his wife wasn't happy with it for reasons unbeknownst to me, the house was put on the open market.
    Originally posted by torch_light
    Unfortunately I think in the coming months you will discover what these 'reasons' really were.

    Regardless of the quality of the construction, there is something in the overall appearance and detailing of the design which looks 'odd'. Unfortunately it isn't necessarily something which would be picked up on a survey when buying, but someone with experience of building looking at at the rear elevation of your house is quite likely to be getting a 'gut' feeling, if not very loud alarm bells.
    "In the future, everyone will be rich for 15 minutes"
    • Furts
    • By Furts 14th Jul 18, 4:37 PM
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    Furts
    I have pointed out numerous concerns and if Jude is competent then he too will have pointed out these and no doubt many more besides. In fairness to me my comments are just based on one small photo appraisal - I have not viewed your home, but Jude has been given the opportunity to go through everything.

    Your approach to house purchase is incredibily casual, incredibily naive and incredibily nonchalant. If your approach to engaging Jude mirrors this then alarm bells start ringing.


    Who recommended Jude? Precisely what does it say on his business card and his letter heading? What designatory letters are present? Have you verified these? What feedback exists when you did your web search, and also spoke to Jude's clients? What PII exists?

    No doubt you have learned from the past and have checked all this out. But in fairness to all those trying to help on this Forum it would be good to be 100% certain on each of these matters.
    • torch_light
    • By torch_light 14th Jul 18, 4:40 PM
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    torch_light
    Unfortunately I think in the coming months you will discover what these 'reasons' really were.

    Regardless of the quality of the construction, there is something in the overall appearance and detailing of the design which looks 'odd'. Unfortunately it isn't necessarily something which would be picked up on a survey when buying, but someone with experience of building looking at at the rear elevation of your house is quite likely to be getting a 'gut' feeling, if not very loud alarm bells.
    Originally posted by EachPenny

    I wasn't over enamored by the olde worlde looking bricks, but that was just from an aesthetic view.


    Don't think that it hasn't run through my mind that it was him that decided that he didn't want it rather than her.
    • Furts
    • By Furts 14th Jul 18, 4:53 PM
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    Furts
    Houses do settle onto their foundations. I think it's fair to say that isn't regular settlement. That is a problem.
    Originally posted by Doozergirl
    OP has not commented on their construction. In practical terms brick and block houses do not settle on their foundations, although moisture drying out can be an issue with first and second fix items. However if OP has a timber frame then that is a different situation. Over to OP here.

    In essence a timber frame has to be built allowing for structural settlement. This is within the realms of everyday easy to competent builders. But was OP's builder competent?

    OP appears to have only one storey - so up to say 20mm settlement. If there are rooms in the roof then more concerns arise and consequently more settlement. But all this should be factored into the build. It is the builders problem to overcome this - that is what they are paid to do! The purchaser should have no issues with any of this. Hence the purchaser should have no significant issues with settlement.
    • torch_light
    • By torch_light 14th Jul 18, 4:56 PM
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    torch_light
    I have pointed out numerous concerns and if Jude is competent then he too will have pointed out these and no doubt many more besides. In fairness to me my comments are just based on one small photo appraisal - I have not viewed your home, but Jude has been given the opportunity to go through everything.

    Your approach to house purchase is incredibily casual, incredibily naive and incredibily nonchalant. If your approach to engaging Jude mirrors this then alarm bells start ringing.


    Who recommended Jude? Precisely what does it say on his business card and his letter heading? What designatory letters are present? Have you verified these? What feedback exists when you did your web search, and also spoke to Jude's clients? What PII exists?

    No doubt you have learned from the past and have checked all this out. But in fairness to all those trying to help on this Forum it would be good to be 100% certain on each of these matters.
    Originally posted by Furts

    Jude pointed out the very basics because anything more in depth will be in the report that he will write up in the assessment.


    Your approach to house purchase is incredibily casual, incredibily naive and incredibily nonchalant. We looked at loads of houses before we settled on this one, of course we are naive because in this lifetime we had purchased the grand total of one house between us. I don't really know what else there would have been to do, I mean unless you have a background in house building, engineering or surveying what else is there to do? Things that seem obvious to someone looking at it with an educated eye are not obvious to those who have no expert knowledge whatsoever in the field.



    The paperwork that goes along with a sale of anything complicated is what the majority of buyers rely upon I would guess.


    Maybe my description comes across as nonchalent and casual, but we went through the process that many others go through no more no less.


    As for Jude he is a Chartered Building Surveyor and his letters he has are BSc, BSc (Hons) DMS MBA FRICS FCABE. His company has over 21 years experience in the Surveying business and has four branches nationwide that are all his.


    How would I go about contacting a companies customers? I have no idea what a PII is, you can blind me with all the science and details all you want but at the end of the day I have to place my trust in someone don't we?
    • torch_light
    • By torch_light 14th Jul 18, 5:02 PM
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    torch_light
    OP has not commented on their construction. In practical terms brick and block houses do not settle on their foundations, although moisture drying out can be an issue with first and second fix items. However if OP has a timber frame then that is a different situation. Over to OP here.

    In essence a timber frame has to be built allowing for structural settlement. This is within the realms of everyday easy to competent builders. But was OP's builder competent?

    OP appears to have only one storey - so up to say 20mm settlement. If there are rooms in the roof then more concerns arise and consequently more settlement. But all this should be factored into the build. It is the builders problem to overcome this - that is what they are paid to do! The purchaser should have no issues with any of this. Hence the purchaser should have no significant issues with settlement.
    Originally posted by Furts

    The floor is concrete pillars and blocks across it with a concrete scree and a wooden floor. Or so I am led to believe.


    We didn't have a builder, this was already built before we viewed it, we bought it from new off of the open market.


    It is a house, two floors but with sloping upstairs walls to give the impression of a bungalow. The window in the photo is the kitchen that has a spare bedroom above it.



    The purchaser should have no issues with any of this. Hence the purchaser should have no significant issues with settlement. So if this is the case it is upto the builder via the contractors problem to put it all right at their expense?

    Thanks again for your input.
    • Lorian
    • By Lorian 14th Jul 18, 5:12 PM
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    Lorian
    I wouldn't have guess there were two floors from the pic. Do you a slightly wider angle shot including the roof?
    • Furts
    • By Furts 14th Jul 18, 5:21 PM
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    Furts

    The purchaser should have no issues with any of this. Hence the purchaser should have no significant issues with settlement. So if this is the case it is upto the builder via the contractors problem to put it all right at their expense?

    Thanks again for your input.
    Originally posted by torch_light
    I cannot see any practical mechanism for you to make the builder put right any settlement. I am guessing you have a timber frame - your design and history lends itself to a kit house, but only you know what you purchased.

    The builder is not going to sort out settlement it at their expense, unless they are feeling generous, or protecting a reputation, or like doing goodwill gestures.

    Any settlement involving a timber frame should have been dealt with before you purchased. If it was not then you have purchased these problems.

    Ultimately your buildings insurance may step in. Here it depends on what cover you have arranged and where the insurer stands regarding problems that existed when you took out the insurance. Since the problems were likely there you may not be covered, but only you know here.

    Put another way, insurers do not like taking on new builds without a warranty mechanism in place. You have no warranty in place so this concerns me. Do you have buildings insurance that will assist you or are you on your own?
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