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Chimney Breast Removal - conflicting Builder's advice?

Discussion in 'Building' started by cjb, 30 Nov 2004.

  1. cjb

    cjb

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    Hi guys, I wonder if anyone can help?

    I've had two lots of separate advice (therefore quotes!) on the best way to remove a chimney breast from ground & first floor in our house.

    We have a two downstairs rooms that we are knocking into one, thus taking out the whole wall with the chimney breast on it...it's a facing wall, not a side wall, would have originally been the back wall of the house but the kitchen is a very early extention. we also require the breast removing from the above room on the first floor, again, originally would have been the back wall.

    Builder 1 says gallows brackets will suffice
    Builder 2 says gallows brackets won't suffice, and the upstairs room will require a steel which will be tricky to install

    Like I said, we have a Victoria semi which has a very early ground & first storey - kitchen and bathroom - Builder 2 said that the doorway to the upstairs bathroom must have been cut through the original chimney breast, although as far as I can see this upstairs doorway is in line with the downstairs chimney breast alcove - is that the same thing?

    I have no idea.

    We are having an architect/engineer come round on Thursday to do calculations for building regs..

    My question - and bear in mind I have no building expertise so this will probably sound like an absolutely idiotic question:

    Shall I raise with him the builder's queries or shall I just leave him to draw his own conclusions?


    Any advice greatly appreciated, thanks.
     
  2. trowelhead

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    Raise ANY AND ALL queries with the BCO.It do n't matter what any of the others suggest or recommend his/her say is final and binding!
     
  3. oilman

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    Makes no difference whether you do or not, just the architect may give you a bit more info if you do mention it. It's your money you're spending, if they can't cope someone else will. Personally I'd keep the chimney.
     
  4. cjb

    cjb

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    Thanks guys.

    I was just thinking along the lines of "if a gallows bracket IS going to be sufficient, would raising a query that it wasn't make the surveyor also think that way just to be on the safe side".

    Oilman - when you say you'd keep the chimney, do you mean in it's entirety, i.e. you wouldn't remove the breasts at all?
     
  5. TexMex

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    If I understand you correctly, You say that you are removing the chimney breast AND the wall that it is attached to from the ground and first floor. I assume that your are leaving the chimney breast AND the wall that it is attached to, in place in the loft space.

    Gallows brackets are OK to support a chimney breast that has been removed. They act rather like shelf supports (just a bit more substantial). They attach to the wall that the chimney breast is attached to, to hold it up. In your case, however, the wall itself is not going to be supported either. Hence the need for the steel.

    If you attach the gallows brackets to the wall, just beneeth the stack, what is going to be holding up the wall that you attach them to. See my rather crude diagram below:
    [​IMG]
     
  6. cjb

    cjb

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    Hi TexMex, thanks for your diagram. I understand what you're saying, but we are not knocking out the upstairs wall, only the downstairs one. We knew we'd have to put an RSJ downstairs - we didn't know we'd have to put one upstairs as well (as second builder says).

    How can I explain this best? We have a typical 3-bed Victorian semi, quite large.

    Upstairs at the rear we have a bedroom that backs on to a bathroom.
    Downstairs at the rear we have a morning room that backs on to a kitchen.

    The kitchen & bathroom were the result of an extension in 1920.

    The downstairs chimney breast is on what would have been the back wall, now backing on the the kitchen. Both the morning room & the kitchen are small, hence wanting to open them up by removing the wall/breast entirely.

    The upstairs chimney breast has long been de-characterised and boarded over, and as it's in a small bedroom it seriously compromises space - hence us wanting to remove it - it's about 4'x2' in a 9' x 7' room.

    What seems to have happened is that a corridor has been cut out from along the right hand side of the original bedroom in order to build access to the new bathroom at the back of the house - therefore the chimney breast in the bedroom is on a facing wall at what would have been the back of the house, butting alongside a stud wall that has been put up to form the corridor to the bathroom.

    Builder No.2 has spotted this, and has said that if you take the chimney breast out, because of the 'gap' in the original backwall then a steel will be necessary to support the chimney stack. He's said that this will be difficult to install, and they'll have to come through the outside roof.

    We've previously been quoted £1500 for the job of removing the chimney breasts/wall, installing the steel & making good - which we were happy with.

    If we have to go route 2, we've yet to get a price for it, but it makes a hell of a lot of extra work, hence expense, and if we can avoid it we'd like to (although of course we'd prefer our house not to fall down!).

    The other option is to remove the chimney stack. It's at the rear of the house, only visible from standing at the end of our 100ft garden, so asthetically it won't make much difference.. problem is, we share the stack with our neighbours, so we either have to take the whole thing down with their blessing (unlikely) or have the stack cut in half (again, ugly but relatively invisible). I don't know how cost effective this method would be, maybe it would be worth it.

    Any thoughts on the upstairs at all?
     
  7. TexMex

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    So from what you are saying, Once the gallows brackets are in place, the wall below (and slightly to one side of the stack) has an opening (your coridor). Thus weakening the wall.

    Wether this is an issue or not, depends on how well, the wall above the opening was supported when this corridor was knocked through. Since the weight of the stack is going to be transfered to the wall, it will indeed, have more load on it, than it has at the moment.

    I think you'll just have to see what the BCO have to say. Could go either way.
     
  8. oilman

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    cjb, you have it, I'd keep the entire chimney, breasts and all. Chimneys are great ventilators and they are useful for heating when all else fails. Gives you options that others don't have.
     
  9. masona

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    I don't know why people want to knock down chimney, you don't gain much room do you?
     
  10. cjb

    cjb

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    Oilman/Masona - we're just going to have to agree to disagree here!

    I understand your points entirely about keeping the chimney breasts/chimneys for asthetic & ventilation reasons, but we would still have two separate chimneys remaining & four properly working fireplaces when this is removed.

    Masona - we will actually gain a great deal of useable space - the way the chimney breast protrudes into the smallest bedroom makes it useable only as a nursery, which in a house of our size is a big disadvantage. However - this is also because the boiler is housed in this bedroom, making two unusable walls, so we will also be considering re-siting the boiler as an alternative.


    TexMex - thanks very much indeed for your advice - I actually understand things more fully having thought about this post & yours, and am in a much better position when I speak to the architect & BCO.
    We are now going to consider the option of only removing the lower chimney breast & wall (putting in steels of course) and leaving the upstairs in place if it proves too onerous.
    Thanks very much, much appreciated.
     
  11. Tom.

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    Why don't you put the boiler in the chimney?
     
  12. cjb

    cjb

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    Ooh - can you do that then?
     
  13. masona

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    No problem at all :D

    My parents have a Gas fire & back boiler in the fireplace.
     
  14. pieman

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    ...if its not a 'feature' or listed, and especially if its not tied into the wall particularly well, (sometimes they are not - just a brick or two here and there)
    why not take down the lot, from the pot downwards? Might be easier...


    one thing, when you remove the weight of how ever much of the chimney you remove, you may see relief cracking in the wall in the weeks to follow, where the wall 'bounces back' and settles down. Keep an eye on it, and don't plaster straight away - give it a week or two..

    Oh, yes and be prepared for a house full of dirt, dust and soot! especially if you have black mortar! Well taped plastic sheet will help but not eliminate the problem...
     
  15. cjb

    cjb

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    Thanks everyone.

    Pieman - thanks for that, that's good advice.

    What we are maybe now considering is moving the boiler (which is also in the bedroom) and leaving the upstairs chimney breast in place. That will free up extra wall space which may solve our problem. I hadn't even thought of that until I posted on here. I agree what you say about removing the stack/pot in it's entirety, but uur chimney is tied in with our neighbours, so we would either have to cut it in half (not pretty) or get their permission (not likely).

    All the builders have told me how messy the job will be, but I don't think I QUITE understand.. even though my head nods, my heart hasn't got the full picture! Will we need to redecorate the hall, stairs & landing do you think? Will the mess be THAT bad?

    If we only do downstairs we can kind of seal off the back of the house, which might keep the mess in the rest of the house to a minimum.

    Will we have to replaster unaffected walls as well? I.e. will knocking out the chimney breast cause cracks elswhere do you think?
     

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