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  • FIRST POST
    • drkmuk
    • By drkmuk 8th Aug 18, 8:15 PM
    • 5Posts
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    drkmuk
    Softwood lintel UPVC windows
    • #1
    • 8th Aug 18, 8:15 PM
    Softwood lintel UPVC windows 8th Aug 18 at 8:15 PM
    I'm in the process of purchasing a new house which is about 300 years old.

    I've had a building survey done and also another survey by a surveyor who specialises in damp.

    Over the years the building has been patched up using cement rather than lime mortar and the damp specialist had indicated this is drawing in moisture and salt into the property. What is of particular concern to him is that cement has been used above the windows and it could draw moisture into the softwood lintels. The original windows were hardwood so load baring which were replaced with UPVC windows.

    A surveyor has indicated the lintel above the downstairs dining room window has failed as the brick work above it has cracked. The surveyor has suggested wall ties to fix the issue but every builder I have spoken to has said this is just patching the problem up and it really needs a new lintel in place.

    My concern is that if this lintel has failed, the others could also have the same issue further down the line.

    Is it normal for companies to leave the softwood lintel when installing UPVC windows rather than installing a load baring lintel? Will these all need replacing?

    I have never bought a house before and I don't know much about building work and I'm looking for help to gauge the severity of this issue. Also I need to determine whether I should pull out of the purchase or reduce my offer.

    The seller is currently talking to the company that installed the windows to see if they are liable to fix the issue. What fix they will suggest, who knows!

    Any advice or thoughts would really be appreciated.
Page 1
    • the gardener
    • By the gardener 8th Aug 18, 8:31 PM
    • 48 Posts
    • 5 Thanks
    the gardener
    • #2
    • 8th Aug 18, 8:31 PM
    • #2
    • 8th Aug 18, 8:31 PM
    A window is what it is a "window" , nothing more and nothing less.
    I think the builders are giving good advice. What type of lintel is another matter, steel or concrete or ? softwood ? err no ? sounds a bit odd to me . Windows are not in my mind intended to be load bearing although that does not mean they might actually do that in some properties.
    Why would the window company be liable ? I would get some quotes and use the quotes to negotiate the house price.

    Your builders might suggest padstones to support the lintel on either side.


    As an aside old houses are drain on the wallet. It is like having holes in your pockets.
    Last edited by the gardener; 08-08-2018 at 8:34 PM.
    • G_M
    • By G_M 8th Aug 18, 9:25 PM
    • 44,936 Posts
    • 53,545 Thanks
    G_M
    • #3
    • 8th Aug 18, 9:25 PM
    • #3
    • 8th Aug 18, 9:25 PM
    I'm in the process of purchasing a new house which is about 300 years old.

    I've had a building survey done and also another survey by a surveyor who specialises in damp.

    Over the years the building has been patched up using cement rather than lime mortar
    Is the property brick? Stone? What?

    and the damp specialist had indicated this is drawing in moisture and salt into the property.
    I'm dubious. Millions of properties have cement mortar without drawing in moisture and salt into the property.

    Who was the 'damp specialist?

    What is of particular concern to him is that cement has been used above the windows and it could draw moisture into the softwood lintels.
    Do the wooden lintels show signs of damp or decay?

    The original windows were hardwood so load baring which were replaced with UPVC windows.
    Provided there is a wooden lintel above the upvc window, that will support the brick/stonework above.

    A surveyor has indicated the lintel above the downstairs dining room window has failed as the brick work above it has cracked. The surveyor has suggested wall ties to fix the issue but every builder I have spoken to has said this is just patching the problem up and it really needs a new lintel in place.
    'Failed' in what way?
    The brick-work may need wall-ties. The lintel may need replacing (depending what 'failed' means)

    My concern is that if this lintel has failed, the others could also have the same issue further down the line.
    You are buying a 300 year old property. You must be prepared for maintenance costs 'further down the line'!

    Is it normal for companies to leave the softwood lintel when installing UPVC windows rather than installing a load baring lintel? Will these all need replacing?
    A softwood lintel should be as load baring as hardwood - just may need more maintenance (regular painting) and may not last as long.

    I have never bought a house before and I don't know much about building work and I'm looking for help to gauge the severity of this issue. Also I need to determine whether I should pull out of the purchase or reduce my offer.
    You are buying a 300 year old property. You must be prepared for maintenance costs 'further down the line'!

    The seller is currently talking to the company that installed the windows to see if they are liable to fix the issue. What fix they will suggest, who knows!
    Waste of time. They will deny any liability.

    Any advice or thoughts would really be appreciated.
    Originally posted by drkmuk
    .................................................. .....................................
    Last edited by G_M; 08-08-2018 at 9:32 PM.
    • AlexLK
    • By AlexLK 8th Aug 18, 10:18 PM
    • 6,105 Posts
    • 32,350 Thanks
    AlexLK
    • #4
    • 8th Aug 18, 10:18 PM
    • #4
    • 8th Aug 18, 10:18 PM
    drkmuk: both problems are common for the age of building you are looking at. Ultimately it's because people have tried to treat it as a modern building rather than working with it in a manner sympathetic to the methods used when it was constructed.

    Gardener: properties of this age would have certainly been built with load bearing timber windows. Lots of properties of this age won't have lintels as you think of them, either. Re. the window company - they have clearly not taken the property's method of construction into consideration when fitting the UPVC windows. When were the windows fitted?

    G_M: re-pointing with cement based mortar rather than lime based mortar as was originally intended for the building can indeed cause or exacerbate the problem described. Lime mortar allows a solid wall to "breathe" as was intended when it was built whereas cement mortar does not allow for the evaporation of water. Rather, the masonry will become saturated causing dampness leading to efflorescence as the salts have come to the surface of the masonry work due to exposure to moisture.
    2018 totals:
    Savings 11,200
    Mortgage Overpayments 5,500
    • FreeBear
    • By FreeBear 8th Aug 18, 11:58 PM
    • 1,810 Posts
    • 2,590 Thanks
    FreeBear
    • #5
    • 8th Aug 18, 11:58 PM
    • #5
    • 8th Aug 18, 11:58 PM
    properties of this age would have certainly been built with load bearing timber windows. Lots of properties of this age won't have lintels as you think of them, either.
    Originally posted by AlexLK
    I would agree - However, I would have expected (or hoped) to see an oak beam rather than softwood. It may be that the timber was replaced sometime ago...

    Timber lintels are not just the preserve of 300yo properties - My 1920s semi has three lengths of timber supporting the wall above a bay window. Had reason to examine the timbers not that long ago, and they are still sound, and no sign of decay.
    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.
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 9th Aug 18, 7:24 AM
    • 25,804 Posts
    • 94,082 Thanks
    Davesnave
    • #6
    • 9th Aug 18, 7:24 AM
    • #6
    • 9th Aug 18, 7:24 AM

    The seller is currently talking to the company that installed the windows to see if they are liable to fix the issue. What fix they will suggest, who knows!
    Originally posted by drkmuk
    Indeed, but I think I can guess.

    UPVC windows aren't usually built to play a supporting role, and a typical plastic window company will probably neither know nor care whether there was a suitable structure there to do that support.

    As GM says, they will deny responsibility and pass the buck, saying the vendor should have provided a sound structure for them.
    If you are finding huge gaps between your paragraphs, MSE know about the problem. However, they aren't necessarily doing anything about it. More changes on the way?
    https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5844460
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 9th Aug 18, 7:32 AM
    • 25,542 Posts
    • 69,367 Thanks
    Doozergirl
    • #7
    • 9th Aug 18, 7:32 AM
    • #7
    • 9th Aug 18, 7:32 AM
    Indeed, but I think I can guess.

    UPVC windows aren't usually built to play a supporting role, and a typical plastic window company will probably neither know nor care whether there was a suitable structure there to do that support.

    As GM says, they will deny responsibility and pass the buck, saying the vendor should have provided a sound structure for them.
    Originally posted by Davesnave
    ...and if the vendor didn't pay for new lintels then they're hardly going to be keen to fork out to pay what the vendor should have.

    The vendor is going to have a long fight on their hands to get any recourse from the window company.

    There's an old thread on the In My Home board where similar happened and it must have taken a year for the OP to get it all sorted with the window company and that was without them even getting to the point that they thought they were happy with the installation. They complained before the company had finished, IIRC.

    If the vendor wants a quick resolution then it's coming out of their pocket.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
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