Structural defects can affect many aspects of your home. Inattention during the design process and inadequacy during construction are usually at fault. Some effects of structural defects can be hazardous to live amongst and create an unhygienic environment. Cracking to walls can be evidence of weak or inadequate foundations. Inadequate plumbing can also be a source of structural weakness. It can be especially frustrating when you are trying to sell a property because it reduces the value of the overall building. Here at Martin Perry, we strongly advocate that the best resolution to structural defects is to spot and address any inadequacies as soon as possible. In this article, we are going to explore some of the faults created by structural problems, what they mean, and how you should manage your concerns.
Issues with Rot
Dampness causes many problems if left untreated. By allowing any unwanted moisture to creep into the structure of a building, it can weaken many integral elements that keep the building as a secure unit. For example, rot to roof rafters and floor joists can lead to movement occurring and eventually collapse.
Steel fixings and beams can be especially at risk of water damage. Corrosion to ties to the exterior of a building can eventually seep water into the interior structure of a building.
Simple, consistent maintenance such as repairing faulty roof tiles and ensuring any guttering is clear of debris can also reduce the risk of water ingress. For further information on this subject, read our article on How to Avoid Structural Damp.
The Effects of Bushes and Trees
Overgrown trees and plants can have substantial consequences on the structural strength of a building and are a common cause of subsidence n areas with clay soil. By employing a professional to keep on top of their growth through pruning, it can reduce the damage they cause for surrounding structures. Pruning and removal of trees are issues that need to be handled with extreme caution and care, as abruptly removing them can lead to even further, irreversible impairment.
Wall Cracks and Deformation
Structural weakness is frequently brought to attention when a crack appears in a wall. It raises suspicion for a more in-depth source for concern. It is recommended that when cracks appear, they should be examined over a period of time to establish whether they are a progressive problem. In simple terms applying a dated pencil mark to the end of the crack and reviewing it regularly can determine whether it is growing. We can also provide more sophisticated monitoring techniques if required. It may be likely that the crack is in a parallel with the changing seasons. If the width of the crack exceeds a few millimetres it should be inspected by professional regardless. In some circumstances cracking may have occurred shortly after the building was first constructed, and no further movement will occur due to the building having settled. If the wall cracks are minor and do not require further attention, they can be filled in with a compound and painted over.
Concerns with Foundations
Subsidence is movement to the foundations of a building. If your walls have become cracked or bulged as a result of sub-structure movement, the foundations of a building will require remedial works. Methods for stabilising foundations are varied and have developed over time. The traditional method of underpinning involves excavation of the ground directly below the existing sub-structure and filling the void with mass concrete in order to transfer the loads from the building down to solid ground. There are also some modern techniques such as mini-piling and ground improvement that may be suitable, and can provide a saving as well as limit the extent of disruption.
If you require advice on any structural defects, as chartered surveyors in Cornwall, Martin Perry Associates have extensive experience in providing knowledgeable and expert services for structural engineering and surveying.