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    • Dedekind
    • By Dedekind 10th Jan 20, 10:53 PM
    • 106Posts
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    Dedekind
    Single brick wall and building regulations
    • #1
    • 10th Jan 20, 10:53 PM
    Single brick wall and building regulations 10th Jan 20 at 10:53 PM
    Hello,

    We are making plans to refurbish our kitchen. The house is 1920s and it has a small extension dated probably from the 30s or 40s. The three walls comprising it are single brick. I understand any new works need double brick according to building regulations? More precisely my questions are:

    1) if we just refurbish inside I.e. plaster flooring etc, and we add insulation to the walls, do we need building regulations for this?

    2) if we sell in the future, someone might look ar what seems like a new extension and ask for building regulations. How will the argument of "it was already there" work?

    3) if we want to add French doors to that wall?

    3) the roof in the extension has a very pronounced slope. Ideally we want to replace it with something flatter, for which we need to rebuild the roof, but also build up on the three exterior walls. How is the situation here? One of our possible builders said no one will approve that on a single brick wall. Which makes sense but on the other hand he is biased as he will earn more if he does as he proposes (full new extension).
Page 1
    • FreeBear
    • By FreeBear 10th Jan 20, 11:29 PM
    • 3,528 Posts
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    FreeBear
    • #2
    • 10th Jan 20, 11:29 PM
    • #2
    • 10th Jan 20, 11:29 PM
    Answers -

    1) You should get the work signed off by Building Control, although if the walls are less than 25% of the structure, approval often isn't needed. For a single brick wall, you will want to add around 75mm of Celotex/Kingspan type insulation to meet current requirements. The ceiling should also be done at the same time.

    2) Having the work "signed off" will make it much easier to sell in the future and avoid the need for indemnity insurance or awkward questions from a buyer.

    3) You will most certainly need building control approval for french doors - Might as well get the whole job signed off in one hit.

    3) A sloping roof will shed water & snow much more effectively than a flat roof. If it is tile or slate, I'd recommend keeping it. If you replace, building regs will apply, and you may find you'll need to go for a warm roof design. Altering the pitch of the roof shouldn't be a problem. A chat with your local building control officer is worthwhile before starting the work.

    A couple of thoughts to throw in to the mix - Are you planning on insulating the floor at the same time ?
    Might be worth considering...
    Wall units - If you plan of having them, you must make sure battens are securely fixed to the brickwork in the right place to carry the weight of wall units. Sounds easy enough, but careful thought is needed during design ans construction to ensure any battens (or studs) are in the right place.
    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.
    • FreeBear
    • By FreeBear 10th Jan 20, 11:59 PM
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    FreeBear
    • #3
    • 10th Jan 20, 11:59 PM
    • #3
    • 10th Jan 20, 11:59 PM
    I think common sense dictates that a single brick wall won't hold a flat roof or any other type of roof.
    Originally posted by venison

    Of course it will. Countless garages up and down the country are built using single brick walls. Some even have tiled roofs fitted.
    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 11th Jan 20, 9:26 AM
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    Doozergirl
    • #4
    • 11th Jan 20, 9:26 AM
    • #4
    • 11th Jan 20, 9:26 AM
    I agree with everything Freebear has said.

    Rather than placing batons in the right place for unit brackets, we put plywood up before the plasterboard. That means it will last subsequent installations too.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 11th Jan 20, 9:33 AM
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    Doozergirl
    • #5
    • 11th Jan 20, 9:33 AM
    • #5
    • 11th Jan 20, 9:33 AM
    I'd also add that it's unfair to treat the builder as if they're only suggesting you rebuild in order to make more money. If I got a sniff of mistrust from a potential client to that end, I'd walk away.

    My motivation, and very much my husband's, is to do things once and do them right. If you are doing so much to a single skin brick wall with little to no foundations that it looks like a new extension, there is strong argument for replacement. These things were built on as simple kitchen/bathroom/coal shed additions when they became commonplace and they are now around a century old and without the integrity of even the original house, which won't be much to write home about itself.

    Old single skin walls with old, crumbly lime mortar have very little integrity when you remove the support from the plastered walls and the roof. They can often be pushed over easily. Imagine a cardboard box. It's strong when you tape up the top and bottom, but it's as flimsy as it could be when you take that away. These already have nothing underneath and you already know the walls are substandard.

    If you are retaining the existing walls, I would retain the existing roof structure too and seek to improve it as Freebear says.

    Otherwise, you reap the benefit of building larger.
    Last edited by Doozergirl; 11-01-2020 at 9:40 AM.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • Dedekind
    • By Dedekind 11th Jan 20, 9:39 AM
    • 106 Posts
    • 23 Thanks
    Dedekind
    • #6
    • 11th Jan 20, 9:39 AM
    • #6
    • 11th Jan 20, 9:39 AM
    Thanks everyone! I don't distrust my builder in fact I trust him a lot.. he is more expensive than other quotes we have but we know him from other works and still almost sure we will go with him.

    Now, few points

    - there will be no units on those walls according to our kitchen design, but the boiler will be fixed to one of them.
    - insulation to the floor: yes we want to add this as well
    - roof: it's a tiled roof at the moment but the slope is too pronounced so it eats a lot of internal height. We don't want a completely flat roof, we want a flat ceiling and a slightly sloped roof if it makes sense.
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 11th Jan 20, 9:50 AM
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    Doozergirl
    • #7
    • 11th Jan 20, 9:50 AM
    • #7
    • 11th Jan 20, 9:50 AM
    Thanks everyone! I don't distrust my builder in fact I trust him a lot.. he is more expensive than other quotes we have but we know him from other works and still almost sure we will go with him.

    Now, few points

    - there will be no units on those walls according to our kitchen design, but the boiler will be fixed to one of them.
    - insulation to the floor: yes we want to add this as well
    - roof: it's a tiled roof at the moment but the slope is too pronounced so it eats a lot of internal height. We don't want a completely flat roof, we want a flat ceiling and a slightly sloped roof if it makes sense.
    Originally posted by Dedekind
    In the main, same advice applies.

    It's not much to add plywood to the walls for future integrity. It's a lot harder to add it retrospectively.

    I wouldn't be that keen to insulate the floor of a single skin room, especially if it isn't very big and has a lot of external walls. The original floor will breathe and has no damp proof membrane underneath. When you lay the damp proof membrane (to meet regs), the natural dampness that exists under floors needs to try and get out. It does this by climbing the walls and using those to try and breathe instead. You won't see it behind the insulation in the refurbished walls, but the damp tends to show on the wall of the original house where it links. You need to carefully consider how many modern methods you introduce to old structures - it's a very common cause of damp.

    If it's that important to raise the height, you really should be considering a rebuild. No one sensibly continues to build up on a flimsy single skin.

    I am categorically not saying that you need to rebuild, but a light touch is needed to the original structure if that is what you want.
    Last edited by Doozergirl; 11-01-2020 at 9:54 AM.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • Dedekind
    • By Dedekind 11th Jan 20, 10:48 PM
    • 106 Posts
    • 23 Thanks
    Dedekind
    • #8
    • 11th Jan 20, 10:48 PM
    • #8
    • 11th Jan 20, 10:48 PM
    Ok so we do have a few conflicting messages from different builders that came over.. some agree it needs to be rebuild (at least so if we want to change the roof, which almost surely we do). Some say it is not needed as long as the correct amount of insulation is added.

    Without exposing the foundations is probably very hard to determine this. One thing though is that this is 100 years old and there is barely any sign of movement at all so my first guess is that there is at least some tiny form of foundations there..
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 11th Jan 20, 11:06 PM
    • 28,039 Posts
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    Doozergirl
    • #9
    • 11th Jan 20, 11:06 PM
    • #9
    • 11th Jan 20, 11:06 PM
    Ok so we do have a few conflicting messages from different builders that came over.. some agree it needs to be rebuild (at least so if we want to change the roof, which almost surely we do). Some say it is not needed as long as the correct amount of insulation is added.

    Without exposing the foundations is probably very hard to determine this. One thing though is that this is 100 years old and there is barely any sign of movement at all so my first guess is that there is at least some tiny form of foundations there..
    Originally posted by Dedekind
    It doesn't matter. There are hundreds of thousands of houses standing with no foundations to speak of. We've been working on them for 20 years. What they generally have in common is being at least of solid wall construction and we've had to rebuild plenty of those walls too.

    You take a light touch or you risk collapse and higher costs of trying to salvage. Your choice, but I would not do what you are asking. There are plenty of clients with realistic expectations of quality for us and plenty of 'builders' prepared to bodge a job if that's what you want.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • Dedekind
    • By Dedekind 12th Jan 20, 10:09 AM
    • 106 Posts
    • 23 Thanks
    Dedekind
    Got you I understand what you mean. I don't think these builders are cowboys, they will actually provide us with both quotes (one for a full rebuild).

    When you say "collapse", do you mean during building works? Or later down the line when we are having breakfast?


    Re: building larger, it's not considered at the moment. While it does add value, we don't need that much extra space, and because of the way the garden is angled, it will end up blocking much of the light to the living room -- we could do the extension with lots of glass but it would be another budget that we don't want to look at right now..

    By the way, we are still waiting for 3/4 quotes but these are what we have right now. The extension is roughly 1.5m deep and 3.1m wide. The quote includes everything (fitting new kitchen, new electrics and plumbing, plastering etc). Fibal kitchen size roughly 15 sqm

    1) 38,000. Including new boiler and a skylight. Full rebuild. We need to add: supply and fit french doors and a window, kitchen units appliances and flooring.

    We have a second quote but it includes other works and we don't have the breakdown yet. These other works are just relatively minor refurbishment/redecorating of the rest of the ground floor. So to compare I include the quote above with the full floor. Keep on mind this also includes knocking down a wall in the kitchen and fitting an RSJ

    1) 56,000 (38k for kitchen and extension, 18 the rest)
    2) 30,000 (no boiler/skylight). Dont rebuild walls, just rebuild roof and add thick insulation

    I do like buulder 1) since he already did some works upstairs but I think his price is a bit too high. Will know more when I have more quotes to compare with, but would like to get your opinion nevertheless.
    Last edited by Dedekind; 12-01-2020 at 10:53 AM.
    • Dedekind
    • By Dedekind 12th Jan 20, 11:12 AM
    • 106 Posts
    • 23 Thanks
    Dedekind
    Just looking at what our survey said, the wall is 150mm thick. It doesn't say its "single". Not sure whether that changes anything.
    • FreeBear
    • By FreeBear 12th Jan 20, 2:03 PM
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    FreeBear
    A standard brick is approximately 100mm wide - Older bricks could be anywhere between 95mm and 110mm depending on the age and region.
    A wall thickness of 150mm would be made up of (very roughly) 25mm of external render, 100mm of brick, and 25mm of internal plaster. Or if no render externally, 100mm of brick, 25mm battens, and 25mm of lath & plaster.
    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.
    • Dedekind
    • By Dedekind 15th Jan 20, 5:30 PM
    • 106 Posts
    • 23 Thanks
    Dedekind
    So quick update: the builders who said it would be doable actually misunderstood our request. They are coming back to discuss more options and take a closer look.

    In the meantime we managed to talk to one of the council surveyors. They have no issue being single brick, and what they suggest is have a builder dig up along the wall to check the foundations. Then call a structural engineer (which needs to come anyway for an RSJ) and ask him what he thinks. If he thinks they are enough to build up on top then the council is fine with that.

    Now, he did suggest it's an old structure, the roof will not be perfect even if rebuilt and if we are spending money on it then we might just as well rebuild since otherwise it will not look as good and will have issues (roof not straight, bumps, things needing fixing often, etc).

    So we are almost definitely learning towards rebuilding.. at the expense of leaving the living rooms/hallway refurbishment for the future and just do kitchen and extension now.
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