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Feel so disappointed for the people affected by this.

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46454844

 

I'm not going to say that I've done most of the work for my build, this has been done by contractors, but I have done enough research to understand the work they were undertaking and know the fabric of the house.

 

Whether it's a new build driven by profit or an older home standing for 100 years (but you never know what's under the walls, roofs and floor when you purchase) it must be a nightmare buying a house!

 

No doubting that areas have improved like insulation, but on average structural work/materials like the quality timber, brick work, roofing materials these must be poorer when comparing a house built now to 100 years ago. 

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Just awful feel so sorry for the poor people.  I used contractors too and am reliant on them to have used the right ‘mix’ on the brickwork....and on the rest of the house.

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By far the worst aspect of this seems to be that "gagging orders" have been used to prevent publicity about the problem.  Imagine if gagging orders has been used to prevent the publication of the cause of the Grenfell Tower fire - would we be so accepting of such tactics then?

 

Until the true extent of the problem is known, how on earth are people going to know if their house may have a potential structural problem?  What is clear is that NHBC is, as ever, acting to protect builders, not homeowners, but then that's nothing new.

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The estate in the Borders is at Peebles, not a million miles from me. One of the big complaints from those fighting this kind of issue is how ineffective NHBC is when the developer refuses to do anything. And NHBC is supposed to be the gold standard. Makes me think there is zero chance of claiming on any of the self build warranties. 

 

There is a blog here that looks at the crumbling mortar issue. 

 

http://www.new-home-blog.co.uk/weak-mortar-britains-crumbling-new-homes/

 

The government has recently announced a new ombudsman scheme for new home owners. It remains to be seen if they have teeth. 

 

https://moneyweek.com/496292/a-helping-hand-for-homeowners/

 

The government says “We intend to legislate to require all new developers to belong to a new homes ombudsman”. I wonder what the definition of developer is. Large corporates, smaller builders, or anyone VAT registered building homes that they don’t intend to live in? 

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And why was the resolution in one case to buy back the house, not to properly repair it?

 

This can't surely be down to deliberately saving money by using less cement can it? so it can only be ignorance by whoever is doing the mixing then?

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I first heard of the weak mortar issue years ago. Sometimes it was 1:15.  The solution proposed was to rake out and repoint. My concern would be the remaining 80mm of the brick and all the block also laid in defective mortar.

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4 minutes ago, ProDave said:

 

And why was the resolution in one case to buy back the house, not to properly repair it?

 

 

Because they didn’t want to imply that’s what they would do in every case with the mortar issue I guess (as in repair it, not buy back). They say they organised the repairs, they weren’t done properly and due to the owner’s ‘circumstances’ whatever they are, they decided to buy back. No idea why they didn’t do the repair again though. Most of these folk are gagged like @JSHarris mentions so not sure why this guy has been left free to speak up. 

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6 hours ago, ProDave said:

This can't surely be down to deliberately saving money by using less cement can it? so it can only be ignorance by whoever is doing the mixing then?

i read 'mortar mix of 1:5.5' and thought that was weak, normally 1:4

 

@ProDave it 'could' be down to saving money but my thought was someone 'needed' a few bacgs of cement for a weekend job and made the normal mix stretch a bit further. it could also be down to cr4p cement. i know our brickies are fussy as to what they use due to the amount of ash in some cement bags, i suppose this comes under money saving

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Wonder why this is so widespread. Perhaps it is the cement as said. I can get Quinn cement from a local merchants cheaper than anywhere else but don't touch it. May have used on the odd fence post but nothing critical. Can't remember seeing a BS mark on the bag. Sure it complies and I'm sure companies don't set up cement plants producing sub standard product but I'd rather stick with a better known brand. What a consumer I am!

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Or is it reaction to additives in readymix?

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I suspect it may well just be penny-pinching, by using more sand in the mix.  One report mentioned the mix having 15 parts of sand in it, which would tend to support this view.

 

Could also be building in very cold weather, though, or not protecting the brick/blockwork from overnight frost, maybe.

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This is one of the Peebles houses.

 

 

 

 

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18 hours ago, ProDave said:

And why was the resolution in one case to buy back the house, not to properly repair it?

 

This can't surely be down to deliberately saving money by using less cement can it? so it can only be ignorance by whoever is doing the mixing then?

my guess would be he whined enough for someone high up to say "get this off my desk  ,shut him up"

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something else going on ,as those pictures show a good coloured mortar mix --15-1 sand to cement wouldn,t be that colour if sand was usual yellow colour

,when i mixed my bedding mix for pavoirs and that was 8-1  it still looked dark yellow

so some very fishy about the cement +sand being used--

even looks reasonably glossy like you get if mixing strong for pointing

i use quinn cement from jewsons and its bloody strong in right mix -you wont, knock it off the bricks easy

Edited by scottishjohn

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maybe far too much plasticiser+antifreze

or dot +dab with dry mix to lay bricks  very quickly and then point with good mix to make it look right --that would speed up the brick layers output in on bonus

so looks right ,if they  had pointing right  but sod all bond

Edited by scottishjohn

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1 hour ago, JSHarris said:

I suspect it may well just be penny-pinching, by using more sand in the mix.  One report mentioned the mix having 15 parts of sand in it, which would tend to support this view.

 

Could also be building in very cold weather, though, or not protecting the brick/blockwork from overnight frost, maybe.

I doubt it because most mixes are factory produced. I had a look into it last night interesting topic. It seems to be manufactured mortars aren't meeting designed standards. Some suppliers replacing cement with ash (power station stuff) at a much higher rate than reccomended. I think everyone will be safe buying off builders who mix their own!

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Every ‘trade’ on my build said dont touch mass new builds they are rubbish. 

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2 minutes ago, lizzie said:

Every ‘trade’ on my build said dont touch mass new builds they are rubbish. 

 

Doesn’t say much when it has been posited on here a few times that we, as householders, get dodgy tradesmen because the ‘good’ ones work for developers xD

 

:/

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1 minute ago, Oz07 said:

I doubt it because most mixes are factory produced. I had a look into it last night interesting topic. It seems to be manufactured mortars aren't meeting designed standards. Some suppliers replacing cement with ash (power station stuff) at a much higher rate than reccomended. I think everyone will be safe buying off builders who mix their own!

 

Yeah, one of the things I've seen/read on this story is that the factory produced mortar passes minimum standard tests in the factory setting but then isn't adjusted on a site per site basis, like the one in a high exposure zone in scotland should have more cement in the mixture etc - interesting stuff, if you had good experienced brickies on every site I'm sure they would see the problems, but I think now most sites are filled with cheap/inexperienced trades who just want to get the job done asap and get off site

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surely that can,t be right! 

we keep getting told we need these highly skilled european workers !!!!

all it means they are bidable and work cheap ,in both meanings

that maybe why most popular way to build in polland  is ICF ?

time we dumped bricks +mortar for 21st century alternatives-sips+ICF 

 

 

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I remember the same back in Bristol over 30 years ago on a large housing estate, houses were even demolished and rebuilt (but a lot repointed).

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One of the issues is they are now receiving and storing pre mixed dry material for mortar in silos and these have inherent problems with granular material of different sizes. 

 

What may be happening is that whilst from a volumetric perspective the dry mix products meet the spec, when they are blown into the silo and subsequently pulled out, the mix will be variable as the cement has settled out meaning some are probably getting a stronger mix and some are getting weaker mix. 

 

Cost will then play into this when the mixes are seen to be less than the spec as you would need to add cement and the developers will not want to do this. 

 

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putting on my conspiracy theorist bunnet for a second here - housebuilders for years have been trying to move away from high labour bricks and blocks.... could this be the timber frame revolution!?

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this story brought back some bad memories. We had a bit of a issue with mortar strength, the blocklayer was very busy and I ended up with a young inexperienced bunch on site without much supervision. I was concerned that they just weren't using enough cement based on fag packet ratios of ton bags and bags of cement. My engineer was on site and pointed out that the mortar looked very sandy, and a few pokes found it very weak in places. He did some calcs based on material consumption and worked out worst case there were patches of mortar at somewhere between 7 and 9 parts sand to each part cement. the situation wasn't helped by very hot weather and them just letting the blockwork bake in the sun (one young lad had no idea that mortar cured by action with water rather than just drying out!). Anyway, we caught the problem early, a few sections were rebuilt, the labourer was given a lesson in counting buckets of sand into the mixer and from then on wet sheets were hung over the blocks to stop the mortar drying too quickly. It was a bloody stressful business and ofcourse the block layer thought it was all nonsense and insistend they were using 5 and 1 throughout, but the bare facts were irrefutable when we showed calculations for material usage, plus the fact you could poke a screwdriver through the mortar in places. The engineer was pragmatic through , didn't insist on it all coming down as it was 1.5 storey so small elevations and was to be rendered so weakness in the joints in terms of weathering was less a concern. Surprisingly the compressive strength of mortar is still very much adequate even at 9 parts sand, I think the issue is the integrity and weather resistance where in facing brickwork, it would simply wash away and fail in freeze/thaw situations. I was very unhappy for a while but our extension is still standing, another one of many hard lessons learnt along the way in my project.

Edited by MarkyP

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I would imagine quality control is a challenge nightmare on these large sites. Agency supplied workers, all sourced at the lowest possible rate and trades here today and gone tomorrow so no continuity or sense of a team. I believe work is typically paid on a volume rather than time basis, so placing emphasis on getting as much done as quickly as possible. I realised as I negotiated various headaches in my traditional blockwork/cavity walled project that trying to do it to a consistent standard at scale would be a nightmare. I think the answer must be to absolutely minimise site work when assembling the superstructure and pivot to a prefabricated timber systems produced in a factory/quality controlled environment and assembled on site.

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