If your property is showing signs of structural damage, the worst thing you can do is leave it alone and hope everything will be all right. If you’re a landlord renting out a property, you have a legal obligation to ensure that it’s structurally safe and meets all Health & Safety requirements. In any case, any property owner would be liable if a collapsing building were to cause any injury or any damage to other properties.
What Are the Signs that You May Need Structural Repairs?
The most common causes of structural damage are subsidence, failure or damage to building materials, and poorly restrained walls, although it can also be caused by a traumatic impact. Crucial signs to look out for include:
- substantial cracks in the walls, either internally or externally
- door or window frames pulling away from the walls
- bulging brickwork on the walls
- sloping floors
- leaning chimney stacks
If you notice any of these, it’s vital to call in a structural engineer or a company specialising in structural repairs to find out what needs to be done.
If the problem is subsidence caused by poor soil quality or excavations beneath the building, the usual remedy is to have the foundations underpinned. This can be done by adding an extra layer of concrete beneath the existing foundations, but the more popular method today is piling. Here, piles are driven or bored down to a more secure level, allowing them to support the foundations.
In most cases, underpinning the foundations will prevent any further deterioration. However, it may also be necessary to repair damage already done, and this may need various methods.
Repairing the Structure
If the problem hasn’t been caused by subsidence, or if the subsidence has caused structural damage that won’t right itself naturally, a number of techniques are available. These include:
- crack stitching to repair failed building materials, using stainless steel or resin grout
- replacement of cavity wall ties, sometimes without having to replace the old ones
- resin repair and replacement to strengthen structural timbers
- replacement of lintels without any demolition needed
Structural repairs may seem expensive, but in many cases (especially in the case of damage through impact) the costs may be covered by your building insurance. In any case, it’s cheaper than writing off the building — or risking legal action.
If you have any suspicions that your property may need structural repair, feel free to get in touch with us, and we’ll be happy to have a look at it.