FAQs

We have compiled some frequently asked questions, we hope that you find them useful but don’t hesitate to contact us if there is something you wish to discuss.

Do I Need a Structural Engineer?

You may need a structural engineer if-

  • You want to remove or relocate a load-bearing wall in your property
  • You want to widen an opening such as a door or window in a wall (particularly if it is load bearing).
  • You want to build an extension
  • Your property is showing signs of movement or cracking
  • Defects, particularly in older properties, may be failing – such as lintels over windows or corroding beams supporting wall and floors above.
Does my house have subsidence?

Unlike settlement where the weight of the building overloads the supporting ground (sub-strata), the causes of subsidence can be varied and change over time. Some typical causes of subsidence are noted below-

  • Clay heave and shrinkage due to changes in moisture content (often affected by high water demanding trees and shrubs – particularly in the summer)
  • Broken or leaking drain adjacent to or below the building foundation
  • Erosion of below ground rock susceptible to erosion by movement or effects of water (such as chalk, limestone, gypsum etc).  
  • Decomposing organic fill (such as peat)
  • Unsupported excavations adjacent to and below the level of the foundation
  • Collapsing shallow coal mine workings, sink holes or other similar buried features
  • Unstable ground (such as landslip of steep nearby slope or railway cutting etc).

If you suspect any of the above are causing problems with your property please contact Thomas Consulting and talk to one of our chartered engineers who will be able help.

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What are SuDS?
SuDS stands for sustainable drainage systems. These are forms of drainage that manage rainfall close to wear it falls and mimics nature.
The aim of SuDS are to reduce or eliminate the surface water discharges from a site and reduce the effects of surface water runoff to other sites.
The hierarchy of SuDS is such that discharges should be firstly to ground by infiltration, second to watercourses and lastly to existing sewers. This reduces the reliance on sewers and the growing issue of sewer flooding.
SuDS components comprise of soakaways, swales, basins, rain gardens, filter drains and reed beds; these are used singularly or in combination to suit the topography and geology of your development
What are temporary works?
In simplistic terms, temporary works are structures that are required to enable you to construct the permanent works. Temporary works are usually removed after use.
Simple and common forms of temporary works, that you will have seen for constructing houses on building sites, are scaffolding and props. Even a battered slope to an excavation is a form of temporary works.
The designers have a responsibility to consider the ease of construction and advise of temporary work requirements. Sometimes, the temporary work requirements can become the permanent works with a little lateral thinking.
Do I Need a Structural Engineering Report?

Structural reports are often confused with Home Buyer’s surveys. Whilst the later will deal with superficial details a structural report focuses only on the structural elements of the property. The purpose of the report is to clearly explain any structural defect that is or may cause problems to the integrity of the property. Depending on what is found, recommendations may be provided, including suggested remedial repairs to make the structure safe.

What does a visual Structural Inspection involve?

Often a structural inspection is required as part of a house purchase at the request of a mortgage lender following a home buyers or valuation report; sometime, this is undertaken for your own peace-of-mind.

For a house purchase, the structural inspection involves one of our Chartered Engineers (CEng MICE or CEng MIStructE) visually inspecting the property to identify crack patterns, crack widths, take measurements of the verticality of walls and the fall of brick bed joints and floors.  These give an indication as to the possible cause of the cracking or movement to the property.  We do not lift floorboards or carpets as part of this inspection or form holes in the structure.  We will inspect the roof space if there is safe access.

We will then prepare a written report detailing the observations made and discuss the likely causes of the defects.  We will then make our recommendations for remedial works or suggest further investigation that may requires trial holes, soil investigations or opening up of the structure.

We do not inspect for damp, or check electrics and drainage, this is undertaken as part of a home buyers report and is undertaken by a Chartered Surveyor (RICS).

Do I need a Flood Risk Assessment (FRA)?
Flood risk assessments (FRA), or Flood Consequence Assessment (FCA) in Wales, are required as part of a planning submission if your site is within Flood Zone 2 or 3; or is more than 1ha and situated in flood zone 1.
The FRA looks at all sources of flooding, not just from rivers and the sea. The assessment will identify flood mitigation measures to be adopted for the development.
Who is responsible for remediating contaminated land?
The responsibility of remediating contaminated land lies with the person who caused the contamination or if this is historic, the person who currently owns the land.
Structural Surveys - What Are They?

They don’t exist! The term Structural Survey was a type of Survey prescribed to members by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), many years ago. There were numerous instances of Surveyor’s recommending Structural Engineer’s reports following Structural Surveys and complaints led the RICS to change the description of this level of survey to a “Building Survey”, albeit the description on the RICS website states that the Building Survey includes a structural survey which is still confusing. RICS members offer this service in addition to other types of Home Surveys including a Home Buyers Report

 Where surveyors and valuers witness evidence of structural movement in the fabric of the property including cracking, sloping floors and leaning walls they will often recommend a Structural Engineer’s report. These reports are normally undertaken by qualified Chartered Civil or Structural Engineers and are described as Structural Inspections to differentiate the service from the old RICS term. Structural Inspections are normally restricted to the Structural Fabric only and should include an opinion by the engineer in respect of the causes of any damage and the scope of remediation necessary to rectify the problem.

 

Notwithstanding the above – the old term Structural Survey lingers on!

 

Thomas Consulting Ltd have over 40 years of experience in undertaking Structural Inspections. If you need this service, please speak to a member of our team.

Why don't some Structural Engineers carry out Structural Inspections?
Not all engineers are Chartered and accordingly have not demonstrated to the state/crown that they have the required skills
I have been told that works I have had completed should have had an application through Building Regulations, can you help?
An application for Regularisation under Building Regulations needs to be applied for, we can assist with the information that you will need to provide.
Can you help as my insurance company are refusing to agree to a claim for damages to my house

We can – we have experience in subsidence, storm damage, flood, fire and impact damage claims.