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Chimneys & Fireplaces

Insert a steel beam or remove the chimney stack?

3 bed semi-detached house. Chimneys on ground and first floor removed 25 years ago. Chimney stack in loft remains. Been advised that we need a steel beam inserted, so called up a structural engineering company to assess the loft and chimney stack, take measurements and provide calculations and also asked for a general structural inspection. They sent a structural technician who is an associate member of the institute of structural engineers, but a qualified chartered surveyor (but upon booking told us they would send an engineer!) The loft is empty, has a floor you can stand on and a light – so very easy access to everything. The technician spent about 5 minutes in the loft, looked around, kicked the supports near the chimney stack and took a few pictures. He said we definitely need a steel beam. He then came out of the loft and looked at the floor below. We wanted to know if the walls and floors were structurally safe. The room was empty, no furniture, easy to lift carpet and we asked him to check and offered to lift the carpet for him. He insisted it was not necessary – we did it anyway as it was necessary to ascertain the old position of the chimney, and had to prompt him as to the location of the old chimney and the cement in the floor, which he did not notice. After a brief 5 minute look downstairs he wanted to leave, at which point i reminded him about the calculations and measurements, as we had not seen him measure anything or use any tools at all or take any notes – he only took a few pictures. He was very reluctant to do the measurements, and gave several reasons as to why he could not do them. 1. he was not instructed by the office he needed to – so we phoned the office as this is the service we had clearly booked and asked for, and 2. he was only an associate member of the ISE and so not insured to do the job. Whilst we were on the phone to the company’s customer helpline the technician proceeded to take only two measurements of the main load bearing wall in the living room user a laser device and then said he had to leave. After this, we finally got a call back from the company offices who called the technician. They called us back and assured us that he took all the measurements needed for calculating the dimensions etc of the steel beam. I mentioned that he did not take measurements in the loft but was told maybe he did not need to do this. Myself and 2 others were present and we did not see the technician take a single measurement in the loft, so I am quite worried about what measurements he is going to present to the engineer for calculation. How will I know it is safe if he didn’t even measure anything in the loft? Does anyone know what should have happened if this was done properly? Who should do the measurements? What do they measure? What tools are used and how long should it take in the loft? And who is qualified to do such a brief? What should I do as we will be invoiced for a service we did not book!

2 Answers from MyBuilder Chimney & Fireplace Specialists

if its only the chimney stack in the loft remaining then a few pictures are enough to calculate how much weight is in the remaining chimney stack although if its been their for over twenty five years without causing issues would tend to think a steel is only required to satisfy current building reg requirements
good luck alex


Answered 21st Sep 2017

It s not uncommen for structural engineers not to measure the sizes or even visit the site, on many occassions they work from plans, They will work on the assumption that only the brick bonding is still holding up the remaining part of the chimney. A lintel is a absolutely required and at the end of the day the engineers must provide an SRE certificate of what is required. assuming this is undertaken by your builder any further liability will lie with the engineer.

Hope this helps


Answered 21st Sep 2017

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