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Rivergate Consultants Ltd | SEG
Practical Structural Design, Survey & Party Wall Solutions & Advice for Developers, Builders and Householders
Practical Structural Design, Survey & Party Wall Solutions & Advice for Developers, Builders and Householders

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We're often called out to carry out Structural Inspections on properties, usually when the house is being sold, or the current owner is concerned about the appearance of damp or cracks or other movement.
A disturbing amount of time we find that the cause is related to inadequate rainwater goods, blocked gullies or the complete absence of a gulley; the result being a massive surcharge of water directly adjacent to a building which is at risk of causing damp penetration into the build fabric and can often be associated with building movement - causing softening or washing away of soils from beneath foundations on which the building sits.
If you've got one of these issues [see pictures], get it sorted before it causes an issue - if not to the property at the moment, then it may disrupt your sale / purchase in due course.
Rainwater goods / furniture should be functioning correctly; water should be taken away by below ground drainage to a suitably sized and positioned [usually at least 5m metres from a building], soakaway or into a drainage system where it's taken away, eg by your water company.
Another of my pet hates is rainwater pipes, and those pipes from kitchens / utility rooms etc, that just hover over a gulley. Have them inserted into the gulley, below the grill/grate and then if you forget to clear the leaves etc they gulley is less likely to block.
Oh and don't get me started on shrubs and bushes that may look nice climbing your building, but as they mature draw so much water from directly adjacent to your building... never never - cut them down to size or remove them!!
Get it sorted!!
Rant off...
‪#‎structuralengineer‬ ‪#‎structuralsurvey‬ ‪#‎escapeofwater‬ ‪#‎drainagedefect‬ ‪#‎structuralreport‬ ‪#‎blockedgulley‬ ‪#‎blockedgully‬
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Removal of buttressing walls; a source of contention with regard to stability: … Seek a Chartered Structural Engineer!! Principles of Structural Stability: From  
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Text message received from Mrs B of Southampton on receipt of her structural report prior to purchase of the property, "Thanks for all of your help".
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Mr U of Farnham following, receipt of his Structural Inspection Report and annotated photographs prior to committing to purchase a lovely detached house [circa £800k], "Thank you for the final report - very comprehensive." #structuralengineer #structuralreport
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Oh yes! Happy :D
Just finished three structural inspection reports following site visits last week. Such a relief!
I like structural reports, but they always seem to take far longer to deal with the annotated photographs and written body of the main report than I had anticipated.
Now back to the structural design projects; wl^2/8 we meet again my old friend...
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This week I've had the unenviable task of having to check through a fellow professional calculations from another local practice; neither the builder nor client were happy with the proposals.

Having been a checking engineer for various local authorities for many years I get to see the inner workings of calculations produced by those with a wide range of skills; although it has to be said that as a checking engineer we're usually given those calcs that even building control believe are poor / wrong; and building control are usually right in that assessment.

The set I had to run through this week, by a Chartered Structural Engineer, who boasts a first class honours on their website, were shockingly bad.

Starting with a fundamental misunderstanding of how to derive roof loads though to forgetting to add first floor walls weights [some of which were masonry] to completely ignoring the weight of internal plaster and external render on the external solid walls set my teeth on edge right away

The nightmare continued by not including for the weight of a chimney which was to be retained over and neglecting to notice that the first and ground floor ceilings were lath and plaster, which is much heavier than today's plasterboard. They'd also not taken into account the additional weight of the proposed suspended ceiling at ground floor level.

All in all there was the best part of 2000kg of building self weight ignored across the various beams.

They'd also neglected to consider that their allowable beam deflections were far far too great to be accommodated by existing walls retained over; the value adopted would have been more suitable for a new building.

Amazingly they'd also adopted a semi-engineering brick under the beam padstones, which was hugely optimistic for an old lime mortar based brickwork building where strengths are usually lucky to reach double figures!

The result: their proposed beams were marginal / failed, the padstones were too small and the bearing soils below the foundations were over-stresses.

Disappointed doesn't come close!

In my experience there is a direct correlation with an engineers competence and the exclusive use of computer programmes to produce calculations; the less of the persons handwriting I see, the more appalling do the calculations usually end up being. A classic case of garbage in equals garbage out.

I think we've overcome matters thought. changing the pier and padstone lengths things are looking a lot more rosy.
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Just received this testimonial from a Client via Linkedin "Mr G. T in Camberley: The kitchen/diner has turned out better than we could have hoped. Thanks for your help" Excellent News
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Concern over structural movement in residential buildings is once again causing a flourish of phone calls and instructions to carry out inspections and reports.
Often these are referrals from Surveyors Valuation or Homebuyers surveys requesting a report from a Chartered Structural Engineer, the rest from concerned home owners who have 'suddenly' noticed a crack or similar.

Here are two from recent instructions:
1. horizontal cracking adjacent to a first floor window and adjacent split bricks, and

2. diagonal / stepped cracks below a front living room window.
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