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Brickwork slip above window (?)

Discussion in 'Building' started by cacbabble, 17 Jan 2012.

  1. cacbabble

    cacbabble

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    After a bit of advice folks.

    A small window on the gable end wall on the rear extension of our 1900s terrace needs replacing. The frame appears to be coming away from the wall slightly, or at least it's a bit loose when the window is opened/closed, occasionally causing grit to fall from the cavity (I assume) above.

    I did note on the survey when we bought the property that a minor repair to the brickwork above this window was recommended


    The actual text in the survey says "slight disturbance was noted to the masonry above the rear bathroom window. this type of damage is indicative of the slippage of the soldier brickwork support to the wall. This is a common occurrence in this type and age of construction when the original windows are replaced. Minor remedial works consisting of inserted helifix bars should be undertaken to restore the integrity of the masonry"

    As it's come to the point where I'm getting the window replaced, interested in the thoughts of you experts about what remedial work may need doing to the masonry. I take it the problem they've noted is shown in the brick on the left of the arch?

    Is the surveyor right and are these helifix bars the way forward (what do they actually reinforce, I'm confused), or is it enough simply to repoint?!

    And is there likely a relationship between the disturbance to the brickwork and the slight movement in the UPVC window frame? Or is it perhaps just a poorly fitted/cheap/old window?

    Cheers :D
     
  2. jeds

    jeds

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    It's hard to tell exactly from the photo. The brick arch has certainly slipped and the brickwork above has dropped down slightly with it. You say cavity - are you sure you have a cavity. What age is the house?

    Helibars could be fitted into the joints above the arch which would relieve pressure on the arch and probably stop and further movement. That would be a cheap option but appearance wise it wouldn't look any different to what it looks now so in my opinion would be a false economy.

    If it were mine I would take the arch out with a few courses above and rebuild with helibars in the joints. Done carefully that would give the best finish and would outlive most of us.
     
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  3. cacbabble

    cacbabble

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    Thanks for the reply. The terrace is 1905, the main house is definitely cavity construction, and I'm almost certain the rear extension is too judging by the thickness of the walls, but wouldn't put money on it.

    We're unlikely to still be there in a few years, so I'm keen to be ...er... economical about this... but if it's something that will continue to develop, neither do I want to just ignore it. I'm not all that bothered about the aesthetics - it can only be seen from the back lane and neighbouring properties are in various states of (dis)repair...
     
  4. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    It may not bother you what it looks like or that it can only be seen from the back lane, but a crap repair or no repair would certainly bother a surveyor for the buyer in a few years time

    Heli-bars are not going to do anything for the arch or the window frame either
     
  5. masona

    masona

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    Can't help wondering why is there's difference facing brickworks above the window
     
  6. cacbabble

    cacbabble

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    Well yes, quite. Our surveyor pointed it out (although we paid full whack for a building survey) so I'm not daft enough to think that the next one won't highlight this as well.

    Are you saying helibars alone would be a "crap repair"?

    I understand that installing helibars isn't going to improve the appearance of things, but it will stabilise the wall, prevent further movement and mean I'm not wasting money replacing the window, no?

    I know people hate these questions but is it possible to guesstimate the cost of fitting helibars vs cost of removing the arch and rebuilding a few courses of bricks above?

    Last really newbie question but is replacing brickwork going to involve opening up a hole into the room - does it depend if it's a cavity wall? (The bathroom behind the window will be getting completely gutted and refurbed soon so this isn't out of the question)
     
  7. cacbabble

    cacbabble

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    Wish I had the building report with me now... something to do with it likely to have been bulging due to lateral support issues? Seem to remember the surveyor again used the phrase "common in this type of property" and was happy with it....
     
  8. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    The arch repair, or fitting of a new lintel will stabilise the brickwork.

    Helibars are not going to be doing anything useful, and will be just extra work as the arch will need repairing one way or the other when the window is changed
     
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  9. cacbabble

    cacbabble

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    Thanks Woody.

    When you say new lintel, this also involves replacing the arch with new brickwork?Has the old lintel likely failed or been compromised?

    Building control approval needed for this (window plus lintel)?
     
  10. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    It looks like there is no lintel supporting the arch - it should be self supporting. There is presumably a lintel supporting the internal leaf.

    You can fit an external lintel and then use a plastic arch former to put the arch back, or just replace with soldiers or normal brickwork.

    You need to apply for bregs for the window, our use a FENSA installer. No need to apply for the lintel repair
     
  11. cacbabble

    cacbabble

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    Cheers - think I have a much better idea of the situation and what is required now, will get some quotes in.

    (If anyone wants to have a stab at a ballpark cost for the work involved that would be great - as I'm still not sure whether I'm going to need to be sitting down to receive this news or not...)
     
  12. cotswoldbuilders

    cotswoldbuilders

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    Apart from the cost of the scaffold to access the window, the repair could be done in a day.
    As Woody said, fit a new former to the head of window, the bricks look reusable, take the arch out and rebuild, bedding the bricks in tight.
    You might want a temporary prop while doing it, make sure the windows fixed properly.
    You can get a lintol made up for the arch, we had some specials made via catnic couple of years ago.
     
  13. tim00

    tim00

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    FWIW: the gable pike has been re-built , hopefully, with two skins because the original one brick skin, built off snapped headers, had begun to bulge or lean. V. common.

    You now have the added weight of the re-build above the frame. Again, FWIW, i'd suggest removing the soldiers and installing a flat lintel

    It also looks as if you had an old window opening(?) bricked up, given the newish brick and the odd proportions of the PVC frame.

    Window installers often cause damage when replacing older wood frames that sometimes had a structural purpose. They also, typically, cut the old wooden horns and leave them embedded in the brickwork - a fungal risk.

    Woody is perhaps on to something with ref. to the inner ( timber ) lintel. Is it level? Is it sound? During your re-furb. you should investigate these things.

    Do all your refurb. work in one go. The scaff. tower could be used for any exterior plumbing or facade work.
     
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  14. cacbabble

    cacbabble

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    That's interesting info thanks Tim. So originally the double-skin wall likely only went up to a certain height, stopping short of the gable pike? (I don't know whether it is double-skin right to the top now)

    Also not sure when the window was put in. But notwithstanding the fact that the frame is very slightly loose, it's of an age when it needs replacing anyway so will heed the advice and get both jobs done at the same time as I can see the way this is going :LOL:

    It's all tiled inside the room, but everything appears level and solid, no cracking along grout lines over the last 5 years or anything like that. All will be revealed over the coming weeks I guess

    If I got the window done pre stripping out the entire bathroom, might you see any damage to the lintel on the inner leaf as you were putting a new external lintel in above the window?

    Building control want £150 odd to look at any work on the lintel, bargain. Maybe I shouldn't have asked. At least any work needed on inside should come under the same fixed cost.


    Bit of further info, this extension has seen quite a bit of work in its time...

    Immediately to the right of the window as you're looking at it is a chimney flue, the chimney stack which was on the gable end wall has been removed.

    And we had the main chimney breast in the room below removed soon after we moved in... But it was all done properly - structural engineer calcs for the rsj, a reputable builder and building control involved all the way. Comparing pictures I've taken over the last few days and those from 5 years ago, there's no obvious movement/cracking since then. So hopefully the issues are from the window up!
     
  15. tim00

    tim00

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    So, ref. the chimney business, you originally had an internal chimney breast
    below the bath room that was removed under regs. and the chimney stack was removed at the same time?

    Do you now have a flue running thro your bathroom into the loft?

    Does the flue continue in the loft?

    The stack, on top of a single brick gable pike, could have caused past movement.

    Dont do anything with the in-situ frame until you have stripped your bathroom and exposed the bearing ends of the inside lintel. No work on the interior is required to fit the exterior lintel.

    Measure the opening, and make enquiries for a heads-up on a new frame.

    And, perhaps, post a pic of the full gable.
     
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