Chimney breast previously removed

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Hi there would like some advice on where to start with this one. I have recently had builders in to do some work and theyve uncovered that the beam where the load bearing wall was in the living room is the wrong way around and too short. Now I’m happy to get it fixed obviously. But I’m terrified of what else I may find….

When we bought our 1930s house not two years ago I had a structural survey undertaken because all the alterations we were told was done decades before, long before their relative had owned the home, (it was being sold by executers) therefore there was no BC paperwork for any work.
The chimney breasts for the rear chimney have been removed both downstairs and in the bedroom leaving the brickwork still in the roof space and the stack still intact. It’s a semi detached so it’s obviously a shared wall and the neighbours still have their chimney breasts etc. I’ve checked my report today and there’s no mention of the breasts being removed or the stack in the roof or anything about it’s stability. There is a photo in the report of the roof space with information about the roof but it completely ignores the integrity of the chimney brickwork in there. (The photo even shows the brickwork for both chimneys!) For the chimney stack on the roof it just says usual things but no mention of it being supported ok. A friend has said they believe that the brickwork in the roof space will all be tied into and part of the wall and so it won’t be going anywhere. (The haven’t seen it directly tho) But I still can’t help wonder because now I know ot actually hasn’t been checked out thoroughly closely by anyone properly. I mentioned it in passing to the builder I have in at present and he didn’t seem keen to go and look for me. I suppose given the rsj in the living room is wrong isn’t a good sign. Would there be lots of evidence in the walls below if there was a lack of support to the chimney?

Problem is I don’t want to employ a structural engineer again if it’s just going to be pointed out that it needs looking at. (Or missed as in the original report). What do I need to open up for it to be looked at properly by someone? Should I ask building control for advice or not get them involved? Was it never mentioned in the report because it’s not even an issue. He’s clearly seen the brickwork in the roof because there’s a photo of it. Should I go back to that engineer and ask the question despite it being nearly two years later?
Do I ask another builder to just come and have a look?
Any thoughts would be appreciated.
 
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I would ask another builder to take a look. Someone that you know is competent and does solid work with good reviews / recommendations.
 
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It's worth asking the original engineer.

I'd be less inclined to go to Building Control than an independent structural engineer - BC has statutory powers to make you put it right, probably by consulting a SE. The SE is just giving advice.
 
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A structural engineer won't just tell you it needs looking at - they will be the ones doing the looking at.

At the very least they will recommend that you have gallows brackets installed, but they depend on a number of factors and it's difficult to prove they work by calculation.

The alternative is to install a beam under the remaining chimney breast supported on walls either end, which is obviously more costly.

Chimney masonry is toothed into the party wall and the corbelling effect will help it to remain in place but this isn't acceptable to building control and does risk future cracking.
 
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A structural engineer won't just tell you it needs looking at - they will be the ones doing the looking at.

At the very least they will recommend that you have gallows brackets installed, but they depend on a number of factors and it's difficult to prove they work by calculation.

The alternative is to install a beam under the remaining chimney breast supported on walls either end, which is obviously more costly.

Chimney masonry is toothed into the party wall and the corbelling effect will help it to remain in place but this isn't acceptable to building control and does risk future cracking.

Thanks for the replies above. will the engineer need me to have removed ceiling/plaster floorboards so he can see what he needs to see to give a definitive answer? That’s what I meant by my comment. I don’t want to get one out without having done that bit first. The first structural engineer didn’t even mention it in the report so I’ll probs either go back to him and ask the question or I’ll get another one in to look. It’s just from my viewpoint it hasn’t been looked at at all so I don’t even know. Hopefully it will have something as well but never know I suppose! I’m gunna try get up in the loft and have a look myself but it’s not boarded which doesn’t help either. What a nightmare
 
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Can you see anything from in the attic space? If a beam is installed (or gallows brackets) usually they are installed in the loft space so would be visible. I can't think how it wouldn't be possible to see the support if there is one.

If the loft space is fully boarded it may be hiding something but I would have expected any support to be above the level of the joists.
 
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Hi again. We had another engineer out who said theres a timber beam which has a slight sag to it , nothing to suggest itl'l fall down but to keep an eye on it and if theres any signs then to get it sorted to building regs. This is what it looks like up there. Should i be getting it sorted asap? I can't really see much support...
 

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Personally I'd get the SE to specify a beam and padstones and get it fitted - that piece of wood will almost certainly cause you problems when you come to sell. Not sure how much it would cost, maybe £200 design, £200 building control, £300 materials plus labour? I hoisted mine up a tower scaffold and slid through the roof, not that difficult. Check whether the outer end can sit on the wall plate, I cut a section out for the padstone but it may be possible.
 
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Sounds like you need to revisit the survey, if it was a full structural survey you would expect any obvious structural defects to be pointed out.

Only two years ago so possible claim on surveyors insurance.

Blup
 
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Is that a gable wall or party wall? looks like the perlin is supported by the chimney and if the chimney is not supported adequately that could be an issue? maybe pull away some of the insulation and get a closer look towards the bottom of whats left of the chimeny in the loft may see something hidden
 
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Personally I'd get the SE to specify a beam and padstones and get it fitted - that piece of wood will almost certainly cause you problems when you come to sell. Not sure how much it would cost, maybe £200 design, £200 building control, £300 materials plus labour? I hoisted mine up a tower scaffold and slid through the roof, not that difficult. Check whether the outer end can sit on the wall plate, I cut a section out for the padstone but it may be possible.
Thanks for this! yeh I think I’m going to try again with builders and get it sorted rather than wait tbh.
 
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Sounds like you need to revisit the survey, if it was a full structural survey you would expect any obvious structural defects to be pointed out.

Only two years ago so possible claim on surveyors insurance.

Blup
I did wonder about this but I’m not sure how to go about it. I did get in touch with original company who said they’d come out again. I might do that and see where I get. See if they’re willing to come to any agreement or something. I’d like to avoid stress of claiming. I have a bad feeling it’ll go on for ages, be stressful. But then on the other hand when I realised it had been missed I felt sick and it’s constantly on my mind.
 
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Is that a gable wall or party wall? looks like the perlin is supported by the chimney and if the chimney is not supported adequately that could be an issue? maybe pull away some of the insulation and get a closer look towards the bottom of whats left of the chimeny in the loft may see something hidden
It’s a party wall so when it’s fixed I’ll need a party wall agreement won’t I? Do I write one up or a solicitor?

Yeah I thought the same about it holding the purlin up aswell. Okay yeh that’s a good idea I’ll have a look. The last engineer said he didn’t wanna get too close as he was worried about potential asbestos in insulation under the insulation that’s on top or something. So yay I guess I’ll have to get to the bottom stuff and test it urgh
 
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Its hard to tell but it does look like that horizontal beam does support the chimneh somewhat
 
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I did wonder about this but I’m not sure how to go about it. I did get in touch with original company who said they’d come out again. I might do that and see where I get. See if they’re willing to come to any agreement or something. I’d like to avoid stress of claiming. I have a bad feeling it’ll go on for ages, be stressful. But then on the other hand when I realised it had been missed I felt sick and it’s constantly on my mind.
Write to them and they will/should pass it to their insurers, as their insurance policy will require. No more stressful than any other claim. You might want a building surveyor to produce a report first.

Blup
 

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