We are Recruiting!!! Do you know an Architectural Technician?

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Job Title

Architectural Technician / Revit Technician

 

Job Type

Full-time predominantly however Part-Time would be considered

 

Location

Newcastle upon Tyne and covering the North East of England

 

Salary

Variable - Willing to negotiate

 

Job Description

We are looking to recruit a motivated and experienced architectural technician to join our rapidly expanding design team.

 

The candidate should be able to undertake measured surveys with ease and produce existing and proposed drawings for planning permission and Building Regulations submissions.  This would include extensions, loft conversions, refurbishment and new build housing projects.

 

The candidate will be required to facilitate the delivery of 3D design projects in Revit for residential projects as well as commercial schemes.  Technical knowledge of buildings and their make-up is vital.  The role will be supervised by the Principal Surveyor; working either alone or part of a team.

 

We are looking to expand our team in order to handle workload.  This is an exciting opportunity to be part of this developing business and build on our existing client base.

 

Candidate Profile

·        Be a member of CIAT or similar

·        Excellent AutoCAD and good Autodesk Revit skills

·        Excellent property measurement skills

·        Possess creative flair

·        Self-motivated

·        Good organisation skills with ability to prioritise and manage workload

·        Knowledge of construction, traditional and modern

·        Strong written and oral communication skills with good attention to detail

·        Excellent interpersonal skills

·        Must have the ability to build client relationships and provide and maintain an outstanding level of client care

·        Professional experience in private architectural practice

·        Full UK driving license

 

If you would like to find out more, or to apply for this role, email me your updated CV and contact details to info@madesurveying.co.uk

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Repointing Masonry

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Recessed joints between the brickwork is a sign a wall requires repointing.

The repointing of old brick and stone walls is often done in ways that do nothing to enhance the appearance of a building and little to afford long-term weather protection.  Often it is done by untrained operatives.  It is a labour intensive operation and therefore expensive, so it is worth giving the matter some thought to ensure the work is done properly.

The types of masonry most commonly met with in the North East are as follows:

Random rubble stone work built with irregular stone as quarried with little attempt at coursing was the standard for agricultural buildings and some town houses up to about 1900.  It normally consists of an inner and outer face with a loose rubble core with occasional through stones to tie the faces together.  The walls were normally 600mm (2’0”) thick for domestic and farm buildings and 450mm (18”) thick for barns and outbuildings.  In older agricultural buildings clay mud was used to bind the walls which were pointed externally with a lime mortar.  Dressed stone lintels and sills were used for door and window openings.  Over many years, the lime mortar deteriorates, and weathers and moisture penetrates to the internal face.  Few such buildings have escaped at least one attempt at repointing and often it is done in a piecemeal fashion ending up like a patchwork quilt.  The work was often done by unskilled labourers who thought the best policy was to smear as much mortar over the wall as possible ending up with the centres of individual stones peeping through the mortar matrix.

Random rubble stone walls often found in the North East of England.

Random rubble stone walls often found in the North East of England.

In later more sophisticated buildings, dressed stone was used in random coursing with square quoin stones at the corners and stone frames, lintels and cills to windows and doors.  Again, these were built in a lime mortar but with a much finer joint no thicker than 10mm and often only 5mm.

Landed gentry with country estates built their palatial houses in ashlar which consists of accurately sawn blocks of stone laid in regular courses with fine joints again in lime mortar.

Brick and tile making using the clays from the glacial drift deposits was an indigenous North East industry from about 1750 and often associated with the coal mining industry which supplied the cheap coal for firing the kilns and there were many small brick manufacturers throughout the North East up to the early 1900s.  Walls were built solid either 9” thick for outbuildings and rear off shoots or 13 1/2” (1 ½ bricks) for the main walls.  Normally there were four or five courses of stretchers (the long face of the brick) to one course of headers (the short face) and invariably they were built in a lime mortar.  Cavity walls were introduced around the turn of the twentieth  century and began to be common from 1920 onwards.  They did not become a universal practise until about 1930.

The function of mortar is not as one might think to stick the bricks or stones together, indeed lime mortar has a very low bond strength, but to provide a bed to even out the irregularities of the individual blocks.  The more uneven the surface and shape of the individual units, the thicker the mortar bed and the thickness may vary from 5mm to 50mm with random rubble.

The relative weakness of lime mortar causes the exposed face of the mortar to degrade and ‘weather’ back allowing the ingress of rain into the body of the wall.  It is at this stage that repointing becomes necessary.

The stone used in masonry construction in the North East is either sandstone, millstone grit or limestone, and although the face of the stonework also weathers, it is at a slower rate than the lime mortar.  If, however the lime mortar is replaced with a modern cement mortar the rates of weathering are reversed and after a while the cement mortar will stand proud of the wall face once again allowing rain to penetrate into the wall.

It is essential therefore that any repointing must be carried out in a mortar that is weaker than the stone or brick with which the wall is constructed and using a ‘good strong mix’ does more harm than good in the long-term.

A common fault in repointing is to apply the mortar straight onto the weathered lime mortar joint without raking out to form a key.  This looks fine initially but after a while rain penetrates behind the pointing, freezes and loosens it.  At this stage the pointing can be picked out with one’s fingers if it has not fallen out beforehand.

Smear pointing has the same effect. This occurs when the mortar is smeared over the edge of the individual stones and the resultant feather edge of the pointing on the upper stone traps rain running down the face of the stone and again frost action will cause it to spall.

Another fault is ‘ribbon’ pointing where the repointed joints, often in a cement mortar, are left proud of the face of the stonework in the form of ribbons of cement with sharp edges.  This provides a ledge for rainwater to collect and make its way into the interior of the wall.  It tends to enhance the pointing to the detriment of the stone, whereas the pointing should complement the stone or brick.

Ribbon style pointing on an old school house in Northumberland.

Ribbon style pointing on an old school house in Northumberland.

The effects of ribbon style pointing over time.

The effects of ribbon style pointing over time.

From an aesthetic point of view, it is the stone or brick that needs to be emphasised not the mortar and both smear pointing and ribbon pointing have the opposite effect.

There are therefore three basic essentials for repointing:

a)     The existing joints must be raked out for a sufficient depth (at least the thickness of the joint and not less than 10mm).

b)     The mortar must be weaker than the stone or brick.

c)      The mortar joint must be slightly recessed to avoid water penetrating the joint and to emphasise the stone or brick and not the mortar.

When raking out the mortar joints care must be taken to avoid damaging the ‘arrises’ (the corners) of the stone or brick.  A Stihl saw is not to be recommended.

The mortar should be a sand:lime mix ‘gauged’ with Portland cement.  Only sharp, well washed coarse sands and grits should be used with a minimum amount of water.  The mix will depend on the application but generally a 1:1:6 (cement:lime:sand) mix is suitable for brickwork and a 1:2:9 mix for stonework.  Cement:sand mixes with mortar additives should be avoided. Sand and lime (otherwise known as ‘coarse’ stuff) can be obtained ready mixed and is then ‘gauged’ on site with cement as and when it is required.  Once the gauged mortar begins to set however it can no longer be used although the sand lime ‘coarse’ stuff can be ‘knocked up’ and re-used daily.  It is a good idea to order sufficient ‘coarse stuff’ for the whole job to avoid slight variations in colour.

The raked-out joints should be slightly moistened before repointing (an old paint brush and a bucket of water should be kept handy) and the mortar should be pushed into the joints with a pointing trowel so that it is completely filled.  The slight recessing can be obtained by ‘bagging down’ with old sacking which also helps to consolidate the surface of the pointing.  At the end of the day the stonework or brickwork should be lightly brushed down to remove any traces of mortar adhering to the face of the brick or stone.

Trying to match old weathered pointing is next to impossible and an acceptable mortar mix can only be obtained by trial and error not forgetting that mortar dries out a different colour to the fresh mortar.  An experienced bricklayer or mason should be able to advise further.

References –

RM Higgins, July 1994

Is Your Property Moving? Settlement or Subsidence…

Internal cracking at 'weak point' within the fabric of the building.

Internal cracking at 'weak point' within the fabric of the building.

Cracks in the walls of a house can often, but by no means always, be caused by subsidence or settlement of the property.  One must, however, be careful to differentiate between the two.

Settlement is the downward movement brought about by the pressure from a foundation causing compression of the ground immediately below it.  Most soils (rocks and perhaps dense gravel excepted) will, like any plastic materials, compress under pressure.  Normally this is fairly evenly distributed and the house settles as a unit as it is built.  This is commonly termed primary settlement.  Once this occurs the property will remain in equilibrium with the loadbearing soil and no further movement need be anticipated unless some external factor becomes operable.  However, if the ground is not uniform in character or the load on part of the foundations is disproportionately high, one section of the foundations may settle more than another causing differential settlement leading to cracking of the superstructure in the vicinity.  The adding of an extension can often result in such settlement, resulting in cracks where it joins the original structure.

Settlement of this nature therefore is a relatively minor defect and is not normally a continuing problem.  Minor repairs and repointing is often all that is necessary.  Damage as a result of settlement is not normally covered by household insurance.

Subsidence on the other hand is downwards movement of the ground brought about by activity in the ground and includes:

·        Mining subsidence, particularly coal mining in the North East, although due to the great reduction in this field, this is now a rare event.

·        Compression of loose, manmade fill owing to its self-weight or the ingress of water, the most common examples in the North East being old filled quarries, the presence of which may not have been known when the house was built.

·        Removal of water from the ground by pumping or, more commonly, the extraction of water from clay subsoils by tree roots during prolonged dry periods.

·        Excavations which remove lateral support from adjacent ground.

Previously repointed cracking which has slightly reopened.

Previously repointed cracking which has slightly reopened.

Conversely, upward movement of the ground, or heave, can have very similar effects on a property and sometimes it is difficult to tell whether one side is going down or the adjacent side is going up.  Causes of heave are:

·        Rehydration or increase in water content of clay soils caused by the removal of trees when the clay swells as it becomes wetter.

·        Formation of ice lens in silts, fine sands and chalk during prolonged freezing conditions where the water table is high and the foundations relatively shallow.  Unheated buildings, buildings under construction and cold stores are most at risk.

The remedy for subsidence, depending on the circumstances, will sometimes involve underpinning either with mass concrete or piles, where a suitable and stable bearing can be located at a lower depth.  Where movement is a result of mining subsidence there is little that can be done apart from patching up the damage, although once the surface subsidence has occurred little continuing movement need be expected.

Subsidence and heave due to ground movement is normally covered by a household insurance policy subject to an excess.

A surveyor will need to determine if the issue is historic or progressive, related to structural movement or something else such as bounce and deflection of under sized floor joists which stud walls are often attached to.

A surveyor will need to determine if the issue is historic or progressive, related to structural movement or something else such as bounce and deflection of under sized floor joists which stud walls are often attached to.

References –

RM Higgins, July 1994

‘Subsidence of low rise buildings’, 1984 Institution of Structural Engineers

Would you buy a car without an MOT?

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Then why would you spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on a property without getting an in-depth survey conducted by a qualified construction professional?

A building survey will provide a detailed insight into the true condition of a property. It will give you peace of mind and help you avoid costly mistakes by uncovering problems and complications which could cause you issues later.

Only 1 out of 5 Buyers commission a Building Survey or a Homebuyers or Home Condition Report before buying their new home.

So, why do so many buyers shy away from something that seems so obviously crucial?

People will give a variety of reasons, such as:

- “The Building Society or Bank “Survey” should cover it already.”

- “The house is a new build, so there shouldn’t be anything wrong with it.”

- “It’s too expensive on top of everything else we have to pay for!”

- “The house is too old; we won’t bother.”

- “There’s no point as we’ve agreed on a price for the Property”

The problem with these ‘reasons’, is that most of them could be considered as myths, and believing them could result in you having to fork out thousands of pounds on a repair which could have been identified before acquisition. With that in mind, we’ve created a guide on why it’s a good idea to get an in-depth building survey!

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1. The Lender Survey

When a mortgage has been obtained to purchase the property, many people say they do not need a survey as their Lender will be carrying out a “survey” for them.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t be more wrong.

The Lender is simply looking after their own interests and merely instructs Surveyors or Valuers to carry out a valuation, not a full survey.

By doing so, the Lender ensures it will not be lending too much on the property that may impair its ability to sell a property if it were repossessed. Unfortunately, it protects the lender – not you!

2. “We shouldn’t have any issues with a new build.”

Another common reason given is that a house built within the last ten years has an NHBC guarantee or similar.

The NHBC guarantee is actually only a warranty.

The warranty covers major and minor defects in the first two years. After that, you're only covered for major defects. Don’t expect a new build to be perfect, it’s usually worth considering a New-Build Snagging Survey.

3. “It’s too expensive on top of everything else we have to pay for!”

A minor defect could cost you thousands of pounds to fix properly, while a major defect could cost tens of thousands, on top of being potentially dangerous.

It always pays to budget for your move, and we would urge you to plan for a little extra to cover a survey as well.  You will have saved money by pulling out of a purchase if the surveyor identifies major defects, or you will be able to renegotiate a lower price, covering the price of the survey and then some.

4. “There’s no point as we’ve already agreed on a price for the Property.”

The thing to remember here is - adverse or uncalculated report findings may allow you to renegotiate a reduced price.

The final price is subject to amendment right up until exchange of contracts, particularly if a major defect comes to light.

5. “The House is too old; we won’t bother.”

The property may well have stood the test of time and may be many years old, but in all likelihood that simply means that wear and tear will have worn down its structural integrity, and it is in fact more likely to have hidden problems than a less ‘time proven’ home.

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So what kinds of survey should I look for

At MADE we provide a range of surveys for both domestic and commercial property, including:

1. An RICS Homebuyer’s Report (HBR)

The HBR will identify any structural problems the property may have such as; damp, timber decay, central heating system issues, electrical installation, complications that may need a structural engineer and any problems with the roof. However, be aware that this report does not cover beyond floorboards or behind walls.

It will also let you know about the necessary repairs, ongoing maintenance advice and items to ask your solicitor to verify. With its 1,2,3 rating system, you can quickly identify the most serious problems. This can cost anything between £400-£700 depending on the size of the property.

2. Structures only Survey (SOS)

This report will tell you what condition the main structures are in. It will identify any major problems which currently exist and ones which may occur in the future if repairs are not undertaken.

It focuses on the main structural elements of the property such as roofs, walls, floors and staircases, and is often undertaken when there are major problems or if a valuation survey throws up a serious structural defect - which may result in refusal of a mortgage. These usually cost between £400-£750 depending on the size of the property.

3. Full Building Survey (FBS)

This is suitable for all properties, specifically if you are planning to carry out any work, or it is an older or larger property. It provides a structural report tailored to your property, highlighting defects, repairs and maintenance options.

Although priced at £500 - £1000, you could argue that it is worth every penny; it provides detailed advice on repairs and the surveyor’s opinion on the potential hidden defects. However, it does not offer a valuation.

4. New-Build Snagging Survey

With new-builds constantly cropping up around the UK at the moment, this is a good one to bear in mind.

This is an independent inspection looking specifically for faults in new properties. The cost of this will be in the region of £300, depending on the size of the property. It will pick up on problems such as plumbing or poorly completed paintwork. It is the developer’s responsibility to resolve any issues that may arise within the new build home before you move in.

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Finally, for all of these surveys we speak with our clients on the day to help speed up the process and look to issue our hard copy reports within five working days. If you’re in the process of buying a house or know someone who is, please get in touch via the button below and see how much you could be saving.

 

Condensation...The Facts

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In this latest article, MADE Surveying & Architectural discuss condensation in properties with Phill Hogg of PH Preservation.

Condensation accounts for almost 70% of domestic damp problems.  Unfortunately, landlords, tenants, occupiers and assessors very frequently mistake it for other forms of dampness.  This can lead to expensive repair works which may not necessarily be required.

Condensation is thought of as an exceedingly common result of a lack of balance between heating and ventilation.  Condensation occurs as air can hold more water vapour when warm than it can when cold.  When warm air is chilled it deposits the water it can no longer hold, as condensation.  This is an effect that can be demonstrated by breathing onto a mirror or another cool surface.

In its less serious form, condensation may “steam up” windows and mirrors.  In more severe cases it can cause dampness ON wall surfaces and in furnishings.  Underlying brickwork or masonry will normally be of a lower moisture content.  It may cause mildew on fabrics and leather and, in extreme cases, can cause walls to be visibly wet.  It is frequently accompanied by mould growth, of which the most common is “black spot” – a mould which appears first as small soot like spots which can join up and cause large black spores. 

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Condensation may occur at any height on almost any cool surface.  This distinguishes it from RISING damp which almost never occurs at heights of more than five feet above ground level and is confined to walls which are in ground contact.  Unlike condensation, RISING damp normally results in the brickwork or masonry being of a HIGHER moisture content than the plaster / render.

To correct condensation, it is necessary to bear in mind three main requirements:

1.      To reduce the release of water vapour into the air

2.      To minimise the cold surface areas

3.      To ventilate to help prevent build-up of water vapour

How to achieve these requirements:

Requirements

Cooking, washing (in particular tumble dryers) produce large volumes of vapour.  You should try to prevent vapour from dispersing throughout the property, e.g. tumble dryers should be vented to open air; kitchen and bathroom doors should be kept closed, and after use the rooms should be ventilated by opening windows or exterior doors to flush out moisture laden air.  Electric extractor fans should also be switched on where available.  Do not let kettle / pans boil any longer than is essential; keep lids on washing machines or standing water as much as possible; do not leave clothes soaking overnight in sinks and baths.  Try to dry washing in the open rather than on indoor racks and radiators.  Do not use oil or liquid gas heaters which are not vented to atmosphere.

Condensation can eventually lead to peeling of decorative finishes.

Condensation can eventually lead to peeling of decorative finishes.

Facts to bear in mind:

A.     An average family produces about 11 ½ litres of water per day by breathing, washing, cooking etc

B.     Paraffin and liquid gas heaters produce about 1.3 kilogrammes of water for each kilo of oil / gas burned

C.     Normal gas ovens and gas fires produce water but in lesser quantity

D.     Dogs and cats emit about twice as much moisture per unit of body weight as do human beings.  A human adult puts between 50g and 200g of moisture into the air. 

Requirement 2

A.     Cold surfaces can often be replaced with “warmer” materials e.g. materials which absorb heat less readily, e.g. a cork surface will be less prone to condensation than a stainless steel surface at the same temperature, since it is less able to absorb heat from damp air.

B.     It is difficult to warm walls except by insulation, but thoughtful use of heating can assist considerably.  It is not good practice to use central heating intermittently, e.g. two hours in the morning and five hours in the evening at high settings and then off or at low settings at other times.  This use of the heating system warms the air in a property but does not allow the walls to reach a stable temperature.  Thus warm (damp) air will be in contact with a cold wall – a situation prone to causing condensation and one which will worsen in the ‘off’ periods when the air cools further. It is better to have the heating at a low setting either more or less continuously, or with only short off periods so that the overall temperature fluctuates very little.  This will warm the fabric of the building and reduce boost requirements.  Overall it is unlikely to cost any more than the low heat / high boost procedure and will reduce condensation by maintaining a higher wall temperature.

Requirement 3

With several other factors involved, e.g. humidity, temperature, insulation, type of heating, etc it is impossible to advise on a ventilation rate that will meet all requirements but as a guide, a complete air change should take place about every 1 - 1.5 hours in most rooms.  In bathrooms and kitchens, this rate should be raised during and shortly after periods of use.

The point to remember here is that when warm (damp) air is vented out of a property, it will be replaced by air from outdoors.  This air will be cooler and therefore drier than that which it replaces.

We would like to thank Phil Hogg of PH Preservation for his comments in relation to this subject.

January 2018 Blues for the UK Housing Market?

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The UK housing market has started the new year off in a similar fashion to the closing stages of 2017, according to the January 2018 RICS UK Residential Market Survey.

Click here to read more...

http://www.rics.org/uk/news/news-insight/press-releases/no-new-year-new-me-for-the-uk-housing-market/?utm_campaign=Residential+Round-up+February+2018&utm_medium=email&utm_source=RICS+Residential

Chimney Defects

An uplifted chimney flashing and loose bricks with blown mortar pointing caused by expansion of old metal brackets.

An uplifted chimney flashing and loose bricks with blown mortar pointing caused by expansion of old metal brackets.

Apart from the nuisance value of a smoky chimney, chimneys may suffer from a number of structural defects that may or may not be contributing to the nuisance aspect, particularly in older properties.

Flue gases contain a number of ingredients apart from the more obvious ones of smoke and soot.  One of the more common harmful substances is sulphur in the form of sulphates, particularly with some domestic coals.  These rise up the flue initially as gases, but if the flue is cold due to its exposure on an outside wall or because of its intermittent use, the sulphates will condense on the flue linings.  If these are old or in a poor condition, the sulphates will gradually migrate to the outside of the chimney stack where they will be dissolved by penetrating rain and attack the mortar in the brickwork joints causing it to expand.  The chimney stack above roof level is most vulnerable, being the coldest section.  Often the attack is more severe on one side of the chimney, this is generally on the outside of the stack, ie. on the opposite side of the roof.  Consequently. the expansion is greater on this side, pushing the bricks upward and causing the chimney to lean inwards.  A closer examination of the stack will normally reveal deteriorating mortar joints, loosening of bricks and severe cracking of a cement render, if used.

Remedial work will depend on the severity of the attack.  Any disused flues should be capped to prevent rain penetration but allowing for ventilation, and a vent should be provided in the blocked off fireplace opening.  If the chimney is being used, the flue should be relined with a suitable liner.

Where the attack is severe or where the stack is leaning more than 1mm in 100mm from the vertical, it will be necessary to dismantle the chimney stack down to where the brickwork is sound and rebuild it using a mortar made with a sulphate resisting cement.  In less severe cases it may only be necessary to rake out the old mortar and repoint with a sulphate resisting cement mortar.

Another common defect more usually observed in the gable walls of the older stone built houses is a black stain following the line of the flue and is normally accompanied by vertical cracking.  Sometimes the cracking is apparent without the staining.  The cause again is due to the condensation of flue gases and tar deposits on the inner lining.  Sulphates from the condensates will again attack the cement in the flue lining causing it to expand and form vertical cracks on the outside.  Tar deposits migrate to the outside and cause the black tarry deposits on the outside following the line of the flue.  Again, any in-use flues should be lined and the cracks raked out and repointed in a sulphate resisting mortar.  Unfortunately, little can be done to remove the black stain apart from wire brushing.

Another source of trouble is damp penetration in the chimney breast usually just below ceiling level on the upper floor often accompanied by black tarry deposits.  This is usually the result of water penetration at the point where the stack protrudes through the roof and is normally caused through the cracking and breaking away of a cement fillet flashing or damaged or missing lead flashing.  Appropriate remedial work will normally rectify matters

Black tarry deposits following the line of a chimney flue on a stone built cottage in Northumberland.

Black tarry deposits following the line of a chimney flue on a stone built cottage in Northumberland.


MADE Surveying 'Row The Tyne' For Charity!

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On Saturday 10th February 2018, MADE Surveying & Architectural and friends will be jumping on a rowing machine to row the length of the river Tyne.  A whopping 118Km in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. 

The team will be given 10 hours to complete the event against around 50 other teams at the Royal Grammar School, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Please go to following links to learn more about this great event and to donate if you desire:

www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rowthetyne

www.rowthetyne.com

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