Half of Air Bricks in Newish Build are Blocked - Some Totally

1 Apr 2013
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United Kingdom
I have a 3 1/2 year old 4 bed detached house. Half of the air bricks are blocked with some totally blocked by driveway paving. All bar the front had some kind of blocking.

I hope someone can answer a few questions but first here's a few pictures


In this image the paving slab and guttering is covering half of the air brick. You can also see the small stones that were initially installed by the builder and which covered most of the air bricks at the rear of the house.


Here slate has replace the old small stones and the brick is kept clear by hand as and when needed. Some of the neighbours had half pipe surrounds installed but it is not possible to do that for this house because of short distance between wall and slab. I could put some stone edging in to frame the brick but it's no bother to ensure the stones are cleared if they are disturbed.


These are the bricks at the front of the side driveway. As well as those at the front these two are the only that are unobstructed.


The driveway slopes up away from the front so the air bricks are now getting lower relative to the driveway.


The next one is half submerged by driveway. Before I comment on water run off here's the final air brick for comedic value:


Both this and the previous one slope into the wall so clearly any heavy rain could run into the air bricks.

I have read the NHBC advice on air bricks and specifically about their positioning and proximity to other objects.

According to radonmap this is a low risk area.

1. Is it OK to have some air bricks permanently blocked up. These would be the two that are on the driveway that have the potential for water to run off into the air brick, and the two that are partly covered by slabs so 2, 3, possibly 4.

2. Is there a guideline on the minimum of active air bricks required for a specific size and shape of house.

3. If a guideline is just that, then is there a more stricter rule that states there must be X number of air bricks per sqm or something?

4. What are the implications of having some air bricks blocked. Could this cause damp and affect the NHBC warranty?

5. What are the implications of having the potential for water run off in the driveway airbricks. Could this cause damp issues?

6. Should the air bricks be moved higher up to avoid obstruction and water run off? How much would that cost to do that for say for 10 air bricks?

7. Would you class this as a defect in the build?

8. If this is a build defect the house builder should rectify it right? If they refuse would NHBC cover it? (note: aware that they have an MVC of around £2K)
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If this is the worst issue you are lucky!

You mention damp - is this happening?
In my view NHBC wont be interested. Its a club run by the big builders to give them a let out clause if your new house is falling down. The only time they will step in is if there are serious structural issues, subsidence etc.
There is no damp that I am aware, but how can you tell what's going on in the cavity and if something is brewing?

Presumably this is not much of an issue and nothing much to worry about?

I woud say we are lucky. We have only had:

totally crap grouting causing water to leak into downstairs room
dodgy roof work
every room having joint tape crack and blister
holes drilled in wrong places and not repaired
plastic water meter replaced with metal ones due to vehicles driving over them
incorrect meter tail work
poor drainage ruining lawns

Others on the development have had

incorrectly fitted solar panels resulting in some flying off
parts of roof fall off
sewers full of material causing regular blockages
one house had two blue meter tails (I am informed this is not necessarily a problem if they are labelled but they were not labelled)
leaking balconies
badly fitted windows and doors
isolators incorrectly labelled - turning off expected circuit stayed live, resulting in a different circuit going off
incorrectly installed dishwashers touching and melting the plug
cooker hoods / extractors joined up with gaffer tape
some have had to sign NDAs. That's never a good sign

Yeh looking at it I do feel lucky compared to what some of the others have had to go through. Hopefully this is the last of the issues, but who knows :D
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If it was my property I would certainly clear as much gravel, slate etc as possible away from the air bricks to give maximum airflow. If needs be I would dig down or possibly remove the edging stone in front of the brick if you can.
In my view NHBC wont be interested. Its a club run by the big builders to give them a let out clause if your new house is falling down. The only time they will step in is if there are serious structural issues, subsidence etc.
Fundamentally it serves the mortgage companies who (typically) own or at least part own a property and ensures their investment is safe from anything major that could have a serious impact upon their investment. It is sold as a homeowner's warranty but I would argue it's miss sold.
Yes the NHBC do seem to be as useful as a rubber screwdriver. I have asked then a few questions over the past year and they just bat it back or pass the buck. One in particular is trying to get an answer out of them if the Loft Zone system can be used / would invalidate the warranty.


Is it the case that a certificate of compliance with building regs is issued on completion of the build? So presumably this airbricks issue with the driveway (the ones that are completely blocked and have the potential for water run-in) would have been picked up at sometime and pointed out, or it's just an issue that would not fail the certificate?
Just to add to the list of dodgy issues on this development.

This morning a resident is reporting a large piece of metal has fallen off the box window frame / surround.

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