Edwardian house lintel problem

7 Mar 2006
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United Kingdom
Hello everyone

I am in the process of gutting my bathroom and whilst stripping off the old tiles and plaster I have discovered a problem, which I would appreciate advice on.

At some point in the properties history all the original windows were replaced with pvcu and the window opening in the bathroom was widened.

The problem is that when they have done this, they have just chopped the brickwork down one side of the opening to accomodate the wider window, leaving one edge of the original interior wooden lintel without a bearing! It also appears that no external lintel has been put in place and the brickwork sits directly on the window!! Obviously this needs sorting.

My thinking is to make the window opening taller so that new lintel(s) can be installed easierly i.e cut holes for for lintels in brickwork above opening, install lintel(s), then remove brickwork below and put in a new window.

Does this sound like the best course of action?

Will building regs approval be required?

What lintel(s) would be best to use?

Will a cavity tray be required?

Also one jamb (where brickwork was chopped away to widen window opening) and the cill cavities need closing, can modern cavity closers be used for this purpose or would it be a matter of a brickwork return?

Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Your situation might be more dangerous than you think, and there's only one safe way of dealing with it, which is to prop the wall before you do anything else to it.

If the bathroom is on the ground floor then it will make things much easier, as you can put beams through the wall between the top of the window and the ceiling and support with Acrows inside and outside.

If not on the ground floor, then the minimum you should do is support the floor above (even if only the loft 'floor') with Acrows and planks to spread the load.

Once so propped, you can implement your plan a lot more safely.

The idea of installing a taller window is reasonable, but not necessary. When the wall is supported, you could chop out one course and install a concrete lintel of the proper width.
Cheers for the reply Goldberg

What you have said relates to the interior skin of the cavity, what about the exterior skin, where there appears to be no lintel at all (bricks sat on window), how can that be propped to put a lintel in there as well?

Two lintels one per skin, is that the best way to do it?

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It's an Edwardian building you say in your heading is this correct?
If so then cavities are unusual but I have seen them on buildings this old, in fact lived in one in Stockport.
What is above the windows externally? It is usually segmental arches with timber internally. If this is the case, have the openings been extended beyond the width of the arch?
If the brickwork is indeed cavity and both arch & lintol are unsupported, then I personally would replace both with a "catnic" type lintol which would do the trick and supply your tray damp. If only the inner skin is unsupported , then a conc lintol would be enough.
Whichever you do then propping is highly recommended, nowadays you can hire acrows & "strongboys" or use "needles" and go through both skins.
Its a frightening job if your not experienced, but really not that bad.

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