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Timber deflection - how to investigate?

Discussion in 'Building' started by IE00, 21 Jun 2014.

  1. IE00

    IE00

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    We are remortgaging our flat and upon the recommendation of the surveyor, we had a structural engineer inspect our property to confirm if the tree outside was causing any structural damage. The structural engineer concluded that the tree was of no concern, however he believed that the diagonal crack in our wall was caused by the timber joists in the window architrave opening slightly (known as creep deflection), and as a consequence the right-hand side of the window (as viewed internally) had dropped very slightly. I have attached photos of the crack and the level of the floor.



    He said this was expected in an old Victorian building and not significant, however he advised that we employ a local builder to carry out further investigations on the supports.

    My question is, what would these further investigations involve? How could we determine if there was a significant problem? And if there was a significant problem, what remedial work would we need to carry out?
     
  2. tony1851

    tony1851

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    Is this a first-floor flat, with perhaps a large opening below, spanned by the timber lintel?

    Over time, these do deflect due to long-term creep. This leads to cracking of plasterwork above. Why did the SE suggest looking at the bearings of the beam? (pics of the outside would help).

    (slilghtly off-topic; it seems funny your surveyor suggests getting an engineer to look at the crack, and charging you for that advice; and then the engineer says get a builder to look at it, and charges you for that advice! And if you ask half-a-dozen builders, you'll get half-a-dozen different suggestions)
     
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  4. IE00

    IE00

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    Hi Tony1851,

    Our flat is the second floor flat, but yes the first floor flat does have a bay window below our front elevation.

    There are no cracks visible on the outside, however the SE said the outside had been repointed recently. I have attached another photo.

    The SE was not specific as to what should be investigated, that's what I am trying to understand. Do you think he meant inspecting the bearings of the beam? In your experience how would you find out whether deflection has occurred?

    P.S. Yes I feel like a right mug paying all these experts to simply refer me to someone else. But I'd like to understand if there is a problem and if so, get this fixed.
     
  5. tony1851

    tony1851

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    I suspect he's just covering himself there. Timber beams do deflect over time - it's a fact of life.

    The bearings for the beam will be within the flat below, and it's unlikely the people there would welcome builders having a snoop round, and the SE knows that.

    If the crack in your flat is long-standing, it's nothing to worry about.
     
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  7. IE00

    IE00

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    Our neighbour is keen to have this done because we have a share of freehold, and any potential structural issues need to be dealt with together, as it threatens the value of their property as well.

    The crack is long-standing and I personally agree it is not a problem. However in order to get our re-mortgage we need to carry out these 'investigations, ascertain any remedial work and associated costings'. I think the mortgage company need to confirm this is an insurable risk.

    So we need a good builder to confirm that this is not an issue, to nip this in the bud. However in order to do this, I need to understand the problem more, as I currently don't know what to look for if we take down the ceiling or rip up our floorboards, and I don't want to be taken for a ride by any other experts...!
     
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