Problems with cracking render
Building Surveyors – an introduction to render and cracking problems
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Many of our clients request a survey of a property due to cracking that they have seen in the render of their property, sometimes when they live in it but most frequently when they are about to purchase a new property such as a new house or a new business premises. Cracks are one of the key things that we are asked to look out for when carrying out a building survey or structural survey
Cracks take many different forms and sizes - remember the crack is the affect, not the cause
Crack is the affect – what is the cause?
Many cracks are perfectly harmless and almost could be considered a feature of the building. Equally cracks can be warning signs that there is structural movement in a property which could be in the form of settlement where the building goes down or heave where the building is lifted. It could be where parts of the building are pushing each other apart or it could be that the cracks have been hidden by the present owner and that the Building Surveyor will have to work out where there should be cracks and look very closely to spot them.
Mortgage and Panel company surveyors don't like cracks of any type
We have found that mortgage company surveyors, whether they are working as bank surveyors or building society surveyors or some other form of institutional lender simply don't like cracks. We should also mention Panel Surveyors who are another form of Bank or Building Surveyors. Unfortunately although many of them are Surveyors, they are Valuation Surveyors and therefore don't have the knowledge to understand whether the crack is a problem or not and will refer almost any crack problem onto a Building Surveyor or Building Engineer. They are often looking to have a report before they will produce a Valuation as they want to know whether the cracking will structurally affect the building and therefore affect the value particularly if it needs something like underpinning because the property is suffering from settlement, heave or subsidence and the crack is the affect.
How does a surveyor investigate problems associated with render?
Blown render – what a strange term
The term blown is used where the render is no longer sticking to the walls. They are also other terms for it such as losing its key. We, as much as possible, avoid technical terms. Where we do use them, we offer a definition.
Plain English building surveys and Building Definitions
Here is an example of how we would present a report to someone who has very little property knowledge when we use the term render, we would have a definition.
A sand and cement external coating applied in two or three coats or layers.
This, of course, would depend upon the age of the building, the type of building and the type of render.
Defects in render
We have spoken briefly above about blown render but there are lots of defects in render that the term blown render covers. This could be anything from hollow areas caused by dampness getting underneath the render or deteriorating older render which is literally falling off the walls. Render certainly has a limited lifespan, particularly if it is not looked after well.
Cracks in buildings
Advice on what to do with cracks
We will usually make recommendations with regards to what to do with the cracks. There are so many myths around with regard to building and what is good building practice. Our general advice would be where cracks are visible you should always seal them as soon as possible to stop dampness getting into the building however the way they are sealed is important. A common mistake is where cement based render is used on older properties to fill a crack as the cement is much harder than the original lime based render which is more flexible. This, itself, can cause more cracks. This is just an example of the sort of advice we can give.
For further information about building problems and cracks please see the following articles:
What do the cracks mean?
An equal width crack found at the corner of a building typically means there is pressure in the building where there is perhaps expansion or contraction from the outer wall causing a pushing movement and a vertical crack. There isn't a single reason for a vertical crack, it could also be in a building where there is a weakness between two large windows but it is not necessarily the only answer.
This is a diagonal crack which often relates to a problem in the ground such as the drain, nearby trees or poor foundation and this then results in settlement or heave but it is not necessarily the only answer.
This would normally be in brickwork and does indicate that the weaker mortar has cracked rather than the bricks itself. It is when the bricks have cracked that you have a real problem usually. We are adding usually as there is no definite in surveying and it all depends upon the situation.
Movement from settlement, heave or subsidence
Whatever the cause of the movement and the cracking can be anything of the above, settlement heave or subsidence. It is something that you don't want to happen to your building. If you are buying a property and then have to spend the next six months to a year when it is being underpinned it will obviously be a major problem. In addition to this we would say that when a property has been underpinned it simply doesn't have the same value as a property that hasn't been underpinned.
Underpinning – Your Legal Advisor should check
Prior to purchasing a property which has been underpinned we would recommend your legal advisor checks what information is available in relation to the underpinning and again we would reiterate that cracking and underpinning usually affects the value of the property.
This has been the briefest look at cracking and cracking that you can see in render. We hope this helps, we would be more than happy to talk to anyone who wants further information on freephone 0800 298 5424.
Different types of render
We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).
The contents of the web site are for general information only and are not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions. Appropriate independent professional advice should be paid for before making such a decision.
If you are looking for commercial property, whether it is freehold or leasehold, we would recommend a survey as this will prevent dilapidations claims in the long run. You may wish to look at our Dilapidations Website at www.DilapsHelp.com and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site www.DisputesHelp.com , both of which we have been advised are very helpful!
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