1. Visiting from the US? Why not try DIYnot.US instead? Click here to continue to DIYnot.US.
    Dismiss Notice

Unsupported upstairs wall - surveyor or engineer

Discussion in 'Building' started by paulg1, 25 Nov 2016.

  1. paulg1

    paulg1

    Joined:
    28 Aug 2015
    Messages:
    24
    Thanks Received:
    0
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    I've been in my 1930s semi for a couple of years. I've recently noticed that one of my upstairs walls is solid (blockwork I presume) and not supported by a corresponding wall below. I also noticed that the door frames in this upstairs wall are heavily distorted. There is a sag/creep of several centimetres over a meter or two. The door itself has been modified to fit the distorted frame so I'm confident this hasn't changed recently.

    Apparently, these unsupported block walls are quite common for houses of this period, but I'm still a bit uncomfortable with how much it seems to have sagged and the fact that nothing was mentioned on our pre-purchase structural survey.

    I'm very confident that the wall was originally built this way rather than a load bearing wall knocked out underneath: The neighbouring houses all have the same design and the supporting joist must be built into a chimney breast in the middle of a living room.

    Anyway, I'm sure it's likely to be fine but I think I'd like to get someone to look at it and confirm that it is sound. (My baby sleeps in a cot next to the wall and I worry!).

    Is that something I would really need a structural engineer for or should I get another building surveyor in? I'm a little miffed that my prepurchase surveyor went into detail on cosmetic stuff and neglected to highlight some major structural movement.
     
  2. Sponsored Links
  3. Just what sort of surveyor were they. If it was a valuation, then get a structural surveyor, but if it was a structural surveyor, then contact them and ask their opinion, and get them back to check over it to see if they've missed something.

    The joist ends could be going, or there may have been movement in the property at some stage. Being a 30s property, there could have been a bomb dropped nearby, so it's worth talking to the neighbours, and asking if you can have a look at a couple of places to see if you can spot anything obvious.

    If push comes to shove, it might be worth putting a beam in to stabilise things; then you might need a structural engineer.
     
  4. vinn

    vinn

    Joined:
    7 Mar 2016
    Messages:
    2,287
    Thanks Received:
    303
    Country:
    Ireland
    If possible lift a board from the upstairs flooring, and examine the joists that appear to be trimmed around a hearth & chimney breast.
    The trimming joists and the trimmer should be double - so should any joist directly under the wall.
    No joist tail should be seated in the chimney breast.

    Take a long level or a level and a straight edge, and put it to the ceiling below the block wall.

    What, if anything, is above the block wall in the loft?

    Why not post a pic showing the length of the living room?
     
  5. ^woody^

    ^woody^

    Joined:
    3 Sep 2006
    Messages:
    32,332
    Thanks Received:
    4,378
    Location:
    West Mids
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    30's houses generally had the upper walls built off the floors. The floor joists tend to be OK in terms of load, but they do deflect over time, leading to distorted door frames.

    Of late, there is a tendency for building surveyors not to want, or not be able to comment on structural matters, so there are a lot of crap reports nowadays from surveyors. So for purely structural issues, always instruct a structural engineer.
     
  6. Sponsored Links
  7. ^woody^

    ^woody^

    Joined:
    3 Sep 2006
    Messages:
    32,332
    Thanks Received:
    4,378
    Location:
    West Mids
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Yeah, obvious things are a big crater in the garden and shrapnel in the walls. :rolleyes:
     
    • Like Like x 2
  8. Sorry Woody, I meant obvious differences in the layout of the neighbours houses. Stands to reason that the crater would have been filled in by now, and the shrapnel would have been filched for scrap.
     
  9. paulg1

    paulg1

    Joined:
    28 Aug 2015
    Messages:
    24
    Thanks Received:
    0
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Thanks for the replies. Sorry for taking my time to respond - I've had guests.

    I've added some pictures below. The blue line is where the upstairs wall runs, the red lines are where the doorways above would be. Using a level and a straightedge on the ceiling the blue line is actually pretty level, it's just the red bit under the doors that bends upwards

    I also added a picture of one of the doorways upstairs (Don't blame me for the architraving!)

    I can't easily look at the joists (the bedrooms upstairs have finished wood floors and the ceiling below is plastered).

    Incidentally, when I said the joists must run into the chimney breast that was because I was assuming that the joists would run across the short span of the rectangular room. I don't really know that for sure. For all I know they run front to back over 5 metres.


    _20161130_234612_Ink_LI.jpg

    DSC_0409.png
     
  10. Gerrydelasel

    Gerrydelasel

    Joined:
    5 Jan 2016
    Messages:
    2,225
    Thanks Received:
    186
    Location:
    Lancashire
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    How sure are you it's a solid wall and not a stud + lath and plaster? If block it's possible it has an RSJ underneath, which would also allow the joists to run length ways (my house does this).
     
  11. DIYnot Local

    DIYnot Local

    Joined:
    3 Sep 2019
    Country:
    United Kingdom

    If you need to find a tradesperson to get your job done, please try our local search below, or if you are doing it yourself you can find suppliers local to you.

    Select the supplier or trade you require, enter your location to begin your search.


    Are you a trade or supplier? You can create your listing free at DIYnot Local

     
Loading...

Share This Page