Issue with garage conversion

25 Oct 2019
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United Kingdom
Hi Everyone,

The house I currently live in had a garage that was converted into a kitchen about 20 years ago. The garage was at lower ground level and adjoining the house, so it faced an exterior wall. A storm drain pipe ran along the exterior (now interior) wall and emptied into a gully that's now part of the kitchen. The kitchen also has a recessed manhole cover that's been tiled over and which I suspect links the gully to the main sewer outside. The kitchen has had damp issues historically. We got it checked and recommendation was to tank some of the walls which we did but there's still a damp smell in the kitchen.

When we first moved in, I noticed that a few tiles had hairline cracks in them and when I tapped the tiles some would sound hollow. With the repeated water issues, I saw a gap appear in the caulking between the wall and tiles that were closest to the gully. Finally a few weeks back someone stepped on the tiles by the gully and two of them buckled. When I pulled them up, I was expecting to feel the concrete floor underneath. Instead, it was hollow and I had to go about 2-4 inches down to hit concrete. The tile next to it was not hollow but instead was sat on inches of earth/dirt that was damp probably from the last overflow.

I don't think it's normal practice to have earth on a concrete floor before tiling. And also don't think its normal to have hollow sections in the tiling. Am I right to think this was a cowboy job and if there is earth under the tiles, it could be contributing to the damp problem? if so what are my options here - ripping up all the tiles and doing them over? If so, can they be laid straight on the concrete or is a subfloor needed? Any advice would be appreciated.
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