Frequently Asked Questions

What is a purlin?

A purlin is a horizontal timber within the roof space supporting the undersides of the rafters approximately midway.

The purlins to each roof slope are usually supported in turn by diagonal timber struts which transfer the roof load down onto a load bearing internal partition.

I am buying a flat. Can I extend the lease straight away?

You have to have owned the flat for two years before you qualify for a lease extension under the terms of the 1993 Act.

However, it is possible for the vendor’s solicitor to serve notice under the Act and then the lease extension procedure can be transferred into your name when you purchase the flat. It would be advisable to obtain a professional valuation before you exchange contracts so that you are fully aware of the premium necessary to purchase the lease extension.

I live in a Victorian house which has air bricks to the ground floor. Can I close these air bricks as my house is very cold and a draught is coming in through the openings?

All properties with suspended timber floors at ground level require an adequate flow of air beneath the timbers at subfloor level. If the air bricks are blocked or closed this will reduce the ventilation and the risk of serious rot and damp will be increased. Air bricks should never be blocked or closed and it is recommended that all air bricks are inspected and cleaned on an annual basis.

I have just completed a purchase of a property and it was stated in the mortgage report that the roof covering has been replaced with heavier concrete tiles, could this cause a problem?

If a property has a slate roof covering, is replaced with heavier concrete tiles it is important that the roof timbers are strengthened to be able to bear the weight of the new covering. If this work has not been undertaken, the roof timbers i.e, purlins, rafters and struts will, with time deflect, causing in the worst case scenario the collapse of the roof structure. In some cases the spreading of the roof can be identified by horizontal cracking to some courses of brick at the eaves level and overturning of wall plates, sag and pulled joints all of which would become apparent to a surveyor.

In all cases where roof coverings are renewed and replaced with heavier tiles appropriate building regulation approval should be obtained.

When does an EPC need to be carried out ?

If you’re selling or renting your home, you must order an EPC for potential buyers and tenants to see before you market your property.

What is black damp?

Many people say they have black damp within their property usually within their kitchen or bathroom.  This is a mould caused by damp or condensation from which spores can be emitted.

The method of controlling the mould is by reducing condensation by a mixture of heat, insulation and ventilation. The mould spores are considered to be a health hazard.

If I develop my property by extending it or making internal alterations will I require Building Control approval?

Whilst there are various rules governing this, the simple rule is that any works of a structural charter require building regulation approval. Consultation at an early stage can save an awful lot of headaches after the event, which often doesn’t come to light until you try and sell your property.

What Is The Difference Between Settlement and Subsidence?

Settlement usually occurs in new or relatively new buildings or new additions to

existing buildings. This is due in part to the compaction of the subsoils because of the weight of the new structure, and partly due to the drying out of the various materials, that will dry at different rates. Normally, the movement will stop after a period of time, with no additional works required other than filling and redecoration of the cracks. Most buildings move to varying degrees due to seasonal movement. This is due to differences in temperature and humidity. Older properties with lime mortar were able to flex and move, so when cracks appeared, say in summer, they were able to close up again in winter.

Subsidence on the other hand is more serious, and is the result of the ground beneath the foundations not being able to support the weight of the building. This is evidenced by cracks at weak points of a building, usually around window and door openings. These cracks are usually diagonal and extend through the walls, being seen on the inside and outside wall surfaces.

Trees and clay subsoil are noted for being a contributory factor in causing subsidence. This is because trees remove moisture from the subsoil (clay), which then shrinks causing the foundations to sink. Another cause is defective drains, where water erodes the subsoil which in turn is unable to support the weight of the building, causing it to sink.

The opposite of subsidence is heave, where the ground swells due to the absorption of water causing buildings to rise.

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