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Beam installed with pads now cracks in plaster showing

Hi
Just had double storey extension and the builder DIDN'T use pad stones when they where in the drawings. We challenged him why had he not put them in and he said we didn't need them the beam it was big enough. We then had to go back to our engineer to do some calculations and he said it should be fine if he has fitted it properly but isn't really standard of practice he should of followed the plans and put the pads in. Now after 2 months we have cracks showing around the beam and ever since we moved in we have been hearing movement noises and when we have looked round after the noise there is a new crack. I'm really worried because we have spent a hell of a lot of money on this. Now I have just spoken to the builder and he is coming round tomorrow. Before he has looked he has already said it's due to the temperature change its normal.
I fully understand this, but my concern is that the cracks are no where else in the new extension only where he fitted the beam without pads. And it's above the beam and below the beam.
I would like some advise before he comes round tomorrow.

There are two beams one on block work and one on brick work. The building inspector has challenged the builder on before he passed it, the inspector has taken his word on it because when he came they had already plastered it. I had taken photos and showed the Photos to the inspector because we had our concerns the builder hadn't followed our plans.

We paid for a private building inspector and it was more expensive.
I have just email the building inspector with the photos and asked him what his professional opinion is. I am hoping he will come out and inspect it and if he has any concerns challenge the builder again. Because the builder is fobbing me off. The builder came and said as long as it's not dropping in the middle he isn't concerned! The beams won't bend my concern is if he hasn't used pads will the weight not crumble the mortar or bricks it's on and course it to move. I am no expert and feel vulnerable to this builder when I through my concerns to him.

What's my rights?
What questions should I ask?

2 Answers from MyBuilder Bricklayers

Best Answer

Hi.
It would help if I knew what material the beam is bearing on with out the padstones, shrinkage cracks are normal once a building is complete. Due to moisture in the materials whilst under construction. Rain, water in inner leaf, plaster etc. Please advise as to bearing material.

2016-11-08T07:30:02+00:00

Answered 8th Nov 2016

Building Regulations are largely objective and confine themselves to the structural aspects of the build, by reference to the regulations themselves.

As this is a structural alteration there is a legal obligation to comply with building regulations and have the method of installation INSPECTED.

Your inspector will either be part of the local council or a private inspector. So start here, you need to find out who inspected your structural alterations prior to them being covered up. The inspector initially checks the structural engineers proposal to ensure compliance and structural integrity and then checks the builder to ensure compliance with the drawing.

It sounds like you have had a structural engineer do the original calculations and structural design.

The builder should have sought confirmation from the inspector that his installation matched the original specification (i.e. the specification provided by the structural engineer), prior to either double boarding or using pink plasterboard to fire protect the beam. Again, the inspector needs to see what has been done before it is covered up (literally and figuratively), and needs to ensure the covering meets fire proofing regs before it is plastered

If the structural engineer now says it "should be" okay then why specify padstones in the first place? I would not be happy until someone tells me that it is okay, not "should be" and only if he "fitted it properly". The structural engineer can't make this call, the INSPECTOR makes the call.

The whole point of inspections is to ensure compliance, how on earth did the inspector not pick this up, and if he did, I doubt if he would have accepted it without asking for new calculations from the structural engineer. It is the inspector who ensures that the beam is "installed correctly", he is responsible if he has missed something.

Make sure you have submitted the new calculations and design without padstones, and make sure that the inspector is aware of the deviation from specification. Otherwise, get them in to do it properly at their cost.

If there was no inspector, then you are really in a predicament, I sincerely hope that this is not the case.

2016-11-10T06:20:01+00:00

Answered 10th Nov 2016

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