Surveys, Inspection & Reports

Surveys, Inspections and Reports from Abbott Holliday Partnership

Please click on the link below that best describes your structural issue. You will be taken to a range of sub-topics below that should match your particular issue, and should give you more information on how we approach that issue.

Please then contact us to discuss your case in more detail and we will give you a free quote to help you decide whether or not to engage us to work with you. Whatever the nature of your structural issue, one of our local Chartered Structural Engineers will be happy to visit, inspect the building or feature as part of a structural survey, and document their findings in a report.

The report will be bespoke and concise, it won’t include any cut-and-paste information that is not pertinent to your case, and it will be peer-reviewed by at least one other Chartered Structural Engineer in our team, giving you the reassurance of quality, dependable recommendations.

Structural design using CAD

Construction error and human error

Building defects, defective design or construction

Unfortunately, those who design and construct the buildings we use, very often make mistakes that later fall to you to resolve. Defective design is common in non-typical building types, non-typical environmental settings, or in developments where the building has been designed by people who are not sufficiently qualified in structural engineering. Defective construction is common where the job is being rushed, or where under-funding has resulted in disreputable contractors being employed to save money. Whatever the defect, it’s recommended to employ a chartered structural engineer such as all our engineers at Abbott Holliday Partnership, to assess the defect and ensure that you are given the correct information that will lead to the resolution of the issue.

Damage caused by vehicle impact

When a vehicle hits a load-bearing wall such as the external wall of a building or a retaining wall, and the structure hasn’t yet collapsed, there is imminent danger that it will do so soon, especially if the building or structure is still in use and its loading is variable. Please speak with us about doing a survey as soon as possible after the collision so that we can inspect all aspects of the structure and make a professional and reliable assessment about its safety. We can also provide expert witness services if the case finds its way to a legal hearing.

Faulty loft conversions

Many loft conversions are done by builders who lack the proper knowledge, experience and qualifications to make proper structural design considerations. Some are even converted by the home owners themselves. However, a habitable loft is very different in use compared to a roof space that may be used only for storage. Therefore, the floor may not be strong enough, causing sagging or collapse. The lateral restraint properties of the roof modifications may be insufficient, causing bowing or sloping of the load-bearing walls beneath. The change of use may also not have been approved by Building Control. Therefore, we can be called upon to inspect the structure and report on the faulty design and its remediation, so you can use the report in court or with your new contractors, or design a new structure so that the loft can be built so it is fit for purpose. We can provide CPR-compliant reports if the faulty party is taken to court, and we can also provide a full set of calculations for you to use with Building Control to get a certificate of compliance with Building Regulations. For our guide to loft conversions, see our article at https://abbott-holliday.co.uk/loft-conversion-guide/

Corrosion, erosion, fire and decay

Carbonation of concrete

If you have determined that you have carbonation damage in your structural concrete, (e.g. by conducting a phenolphthalein test) and you have successfully stabilised it by restoring the alkalinity, we can be called in to survey the damaged concrete and determine whether or not the structure is still strong enough to support the load for which it was originally designed. If you haven’t yet conducted tests, please speak to us first so that we can determine whether any removal of spalled concrete is required prior to any chemical testing and treatment.

Cavity tie corrosion

In cases involving cavity tie corrosion (also known as wall tie corrosion), walls can begin to move independently of one other, causing cracks or bulges, which in turn may threaten the structural stability of the whole building. The reason for the corrosion may be linked to the quality of the ties themselves, or environmental factors such as sea air damage. Therefore, our Chartered Structural Engineers will visit the building, inspect the structure, the damage, and any associated environmental factors. They will then make a conclusive judgement of the cause of the corrosion as well as a set of recommendations for how to resolve the issue and restore structural stability to the building.

Fire damage assessment

Abbott Holliday Partnership employs only chartered structural engineers specialising in structural condition inspections, so we are best equipped to carry out assessments of structural stability following fire damage to a building or structure. We can tell you in a report, whether the structure remains sufficient to support its load, or whether it needs strengthening. We can then also provide design services to specify the strengthening components and advise on how they should be applied to the existing structure.

Reinforcement corrosion & spalling concrete

If cracks or something resembling red rust have started showing in the surface of reinforced concrete, or if shards have started to become separated from it, (“delaminated”), please ask us to inspect it for signs of spalling and corrosion of the internal reinforcement bars. It could be caused by fire, frozen water inside the concrete, or from chemical corrosion or carbonation. We will be able to report on whether or not the spalling is active and worsening, or historical. We will tell you what needs doing to fix it, and whether or not the structure it is part of, is still structurally stable.

Steelwork corrosion

If you suspect steel corrosion in your building or structure, our Chartered Structural Engineers can assist in its identification and diagnosis. We will report on the type of corrosion and its cause, tell you whether or not the integrity and stability of the structure has been compromised or fallen below the level of safe use, and advise on which remedial action needs to be taken. Please engage us as early as possible so that you have the best chance of recovering as much of the steelwork as possible with less risk of re-building.

Storm damage

Storms can damage obvious surface elements of a structure during the storm itself, such as lifting tiles from a roof or blowing trees onto a building. However, there may be longer-term and less obvious ways storms can affect the structure of a building, such as blocked drains, excessive snow loading, surface water run-off and lateral & distorting forces being acted upon structural elements that may not have been designed sufficiently to withstand them. After the storm has taken place, we will make a full assessment of the damage it has caused to your structure and if the damage is threatening the stability of the building, we will provide recommendations for how best to resolve the issue. Our reports can also be used as part of your insurance claim.

Structural effects of timber decay

Despite its original treatment for use in challenging environments, all structural timber is susceptible to decay if its environment has certain properties such as the presence of moisture, various types of fungi, insect larvae or termites, or the lack of proper ventilation. Aside from the cause, you need reassurance that the problem will be stopped from getting worse, and also reassurance that the structure that the timber supports will remain strong enough to keep doing its job. After inspecting the damage, we can either provide you with this reassurance, or in cases where the decay has gone beyond safe limits, we can provide guidance on what changes to make in order to strengthen the structure and avoid the same issue reoccurring.

Consulting Structural and Civil Engineers

Floor and foundation issues

Conservatory settlement

The nature of construction of a conservatory can cause structural problems that may result in settlement. It may have been designed with under-engineered foundations, or there may have been historical ground movement resulting in the settlement. Cracks may be appearing where the conservatory meets the house, or you may have noticed the floor level changing inside. The doors or windows may no longer open properly and in some cases, the glass may crack or smash owing to the stresses caused by the settlement. At Abbott Holliday Partnership, we understand the variety of causes of conservatory settlement and are best positioned to visit the conservatory in question, inspect the defect and the factors that may have caused it. We will then report back with a description of the causes and a set of recommendations for fixing the issue and restoring the structural stability of your conservatory.

Differential foundation settlement

The foundations of a building can move (or settle) in different ways. Uniform foundation settlement occurs when the entire foundation moves downwards as one rigid unit, meaning the building or structure on the foundation will also move together. The result is likely not to cause any cracking damage to the building as it is all moving in the same direction and to the same degree. Tipping settlement is similar, but the foundation tips over slightly as well as dropping downwards. This is more serious as a leaning structural element can’t provide the same degree of structural support as a vertical one. Finally, when the structure is experiencing differential foundation settlement, different parts of the foundation settle in different directions or orientations, meaning the structure on the foundation will be subjected to additional pressures, causing cracks. One of our Chartered Structural Engineers will be able to inspect the structure, monitor any active settlement activity and, together with an analysis of the ground and geology type and an understanding of other local or environmental factors, form a conclusion of the seriousness of the settlement, the current and future impact to the structure, and a set of recommendations to assist in the resolution of the issue.

Floor loading or overloading

If you are planning a change of use in a building, which could change the loading on a floor, or if your floor structure is showing signs that it is already overloaded, please book us in to inspect the floor and its structure. We may also inspect the ground type and foundations if the cause of the defect is not immediately obvious. If required, we can then provide services to design strengthening where necessary.

Floor slab settlement

A floor slab is different to a raft foundation, so the causes of a sloping floor slab are not necessarily the same as the causes of a sloping raft foundation, (see the description of our “differential foundation settlement” service). A sloping floor slab may occur as a result of being under-engineered at the design phase, or there may have been changes to the building or the ground. In addition to the slope, the slab may also be cracking, or falling uniformly. One of our Chartered Structural Engineers will be able to inspect the floor, the ground and the surrounding structure, investigate the foundations, monitor any active settlement activity and, together with an analysis of the ground / geology type and an understanding of other local or environmental factors, form a conclusion of the seriousness of the settlement and the current and future impact to the structure. We will also provide you with a set of recommendations to assist in the resolution of the issue.

Sloping floors

Where a sloping floor is observed, there could be many causes, and whatever the cause transpires to be, it may be having an adverse affect on the remaining structure in the building. It’s important to contact us as soon as possible so that we can determine the cause of the sloping and inspect the rest of the structure to determine (a) what has caused the problem and (b) if the problem is getting worse.

Underpinning surveys

We can advise on whether or not the foundations of a building need strengthening with underpinning, based on subsidence. This can be because of a leaking drain affecting the ground composition, a neighbour’s tree roots or additional loading on the foundations because of a new roof, loft conversion or environmental factors. If underpinning is required, we are able to provide precise instructions for you to use with your contractor or specialist, so that the structure can be properly supported.

Ground movement and trees

Landslip

If your building is on a slope and you suspect that landslip has occurred, one of our Chartered Structural Engineers will be able to visit the site, inspect the building and the surrounding environment, interrogate third party databases, (e.g. local geological surveys) and state our findings in a report which will describe the issue with the landslip and with the damage to your property. We will determine whether the building is under threat of further damage or collapse, make an assessment about the safety of the structure and provide a set of recommendations for actions to be taken to return the building to a safe state. The report can also be used as part of your insurance claim.

Subsidence, settlement and heave

Heave occurs when the ground under a structure pushes upwards and in doing so, causes structural damage to your building. It is different from subsidence and settlement. Subsidence occurs when the ground drops for reasons unrelated to the building, (e.g. nearby construction work, drying of clay-based subsoil, or ground tremors). Settlement is similar to subsidence but the drop in ground level normally occurs because of the load from the structure itself. Heave is often related to water; the ground beneath the structure has a certain amount of water content in it, and if, for example, there are changes to nearby drainage, or if a nearby tree is removed or dies, far less water may be removed from the soil, meaning the ground is likely to swell over time. Whatever the cause, one of our Chartered Structural Engineers will visit your site, analyse the ground type, investigate local environmental factors, consult local geological survey data and form a conclusion as to the source and resolution of the heave. They will also provide a set of recommendations for you to use with a specialist contractor, to reduce or remove further risk to your property.

Tree-related damage to buildings

Trees, or the dying or removal of trees, which are less than ten metres from a property, can have an effect on the building itself. This can range from growth of roots forcing the foundations to move, drawing of moisture out of the soil causing subsidence, the growing weight of a tree causing settlement of the soil and therefore impacting nearby structures, or excess moisture resulting from the removal of the tree, (which would otherwise be drawing moisture out of the ground). This is known as heave. For all these reasons, some insurance companies won’t insure your building if it is too close to a tree. It can be even more complex if the tree belongs to one neighbour, but is having an impact on another neighbour’s property. Our Chartered Structural Engineers can visit the site of your property, assess multiple factors relating to the tree(s), your foundations, the ground & geology type for the area, and environmental factors. We can then form a conclusion about whether the tree could be the cause of any historical, present or future structural issues. We will then put our findings and recommendations into a report for you to use with your contractor or in the resolution of a dispute.

Consulting Structural and Civil Engineers

Notable or sensitive buildings

Care Home maintenance and alterations

The management or design of a care home (or an estate of care homes) carries with it a unique set of challenges such as compliance with relevant industry regulations and the importance for ongoing care and safety for residents. At Abbott Holliday Partnership, we have a lot of experience in both the inspection of structural defects and structural design in care homes. We would be delighted to discuss your requirements with you in more detail and visit your site to advise on your structural issues and design plans.

Church maintenance

On account of their age, churches often experience defects relating to ground movement affecting tall structures, erosion of structural stonework over time or poor workmanship during various historical repairs or modifications. At Abbott Holliday Partnership, we have a lot of experience both in the inspection and resolution of such defects in the church, and the design of alterations, extensions and conversions. With buildings as significant as churches, the fact that all our Structural Engineers are chartered and we have been in business for over 40 years with countless 5-star customer testimonials, should provide reassurance of the highest standards of experience, professionalism and technical knowledge.

Heritage, listed or historic buildings advice

When called upon to advise on structural defects in old, historically significant buildings and structures, we often find that the defect stems from factors such as ground movement, erosion of structural stonework over time or poor workmanship during various historical repairs or modifications. We also take the building’s architectural sensitivity into account when recommending repairs. This means any repairs we recommend should be in keeping with tradition, care must be taken to ensure that original features are protected and any materials we recommend should either be hidden or match the existing fabric of the building. Please ask us for examples of surveys we have conducted on listed or heritage buildings, or examples of design work we have conducted when repairing or converting these wonderful historical structures.

Hospital buildings maintenance and alterations

Many times in the past we have been called upon to inspect suspected structural defects in hospital buildings. Unlike other commercial or institutional buildings, hospital buildings are mostly used 24 hours a day, requiring discretion and sensitivity when carrying out our surveys. Similarly, any recommendations we include in our report need to be made with common sense in mind as well as the technical consideration. Aside from our years of experience in inspecting hospital buildings, all our engineers are chartered, meaning you will receive the very best analysis and the most reliable set of recommendations. Finally, all our reports and drawings are peer-reviewed by at least one other Chartered Structural Engineer before we send them to you, giving you reassurance of the integrity of our work.

School buildings maintenance and alterations

Surveys, alterations, repairs or extensions to school buildings often need to be carried out according to strict time schedules, and in line with the school’s safeguarding and regulation duties. We have a long history of working with schools on both structural surveys, repairs, structural augmentation and design, and we’re also proud to have been invited by a number of schools and other educational institutions, to be their preferred supplier for all services relating to structural engineering. We’d be happy to share multiple case studies with you.

Partnerships

Estate Agents seeking Structural Engineers

If you are in need of a dependable and consistently professional firm of Structural Engineers to recommend for pre-purchase surveys or advice on structural matters, please give us a call at Abbott Holliday Partnership. We are a family business which has been running for over 40 years, all our Structural Engineers are chartered, meaning the highest professional quality, and we have engineers spread across London and the South-East, meaning we are local to you, your client and the properties in question. We don’t ever recommend monitoring for pre-purchase reports, (which is common with Structural Engineers, but impractical for house-buyers), and all our work is peer-reviewed by at least one other Chartered Structural Engineer, giving you and your client the highest level of reassurance. Please call us today to discuss, or please forward our details to your client so we can assist them with their purchase.

Property Estate Managers seeking Structural Engineers

When looking after multiple buildings under one estate, managers need a structural engineering firm they can trust every time. We are fortunate to have a number of property management companies as clients, who manage large estates of buildings such as care homes and houses in high value areas that demand the highest standards of professional practice. We are a family business that has been running for over 40 years, with countless five-star testimonials online. All our engineers are chartered, meaning the quality of our work is very high, and all our work is peer-reviewed by at least one additional Chartered Structural Engineer, meaning you can be assured of the highest technical quality. Finally, we have engineers spread across London and the South-East, so we can always be your local engineering partner, even if the estate is spread out geographically. Please give us a call to discuss your requirements and we will be delighted to assist you.

Solicitors seeking Structural Engineers

For matters relating to property transactions, if you are a Head of Conveyancing or Head of Commercial Property for a firm of solicitors, you may often be in search of a dependable and consistent Structural Engineer with the scale to be able to take on work when needed. You are likely wanting someone with the reliability to deliver what you need every time with consistent output quality and consistent pricing. For matters relating to litigation after structural negligence or poor workmanship, we also have a long-standing reputation for providing reliable and dependable expert witness services, including mediation participation and giving evidence in court. We are a family business that has been running for over 40 years, all our engineers are chartered, all our work is peer-reviewed and we have many engineers spread our across London and the South-East, so we can be local to you and your client. At Abbott Holliday Partnership, we count many solicitors as repeat clients and would be happy to share case studies with you.

Consulting Structural and Civil Engineers

Roof and chimney defects

Chimney breast removal or leaning chimneys

Chimney breasts often take up much needed floor space in the building, or their weight is preventing changes being made underneath them. We are often asked to assist in the removal of a chimney breast, for which we will consider all associated factors, including the weight of the chimney structure above the chimney breast, any structural defects and any lateral support that the chimney structure is currently providing to the rest of the house or party wall. We will provide conclusions on all relevant factors affecting the structure and recommendations to your contractor on the removal of the chimney breast.

Leaning chimneys

We are often asked to inspect chimney defects including leaning. We inspect the whole chimney system as well as related factors such as ground type, the roof structure and any nearby alterations that may have occurred, such as construction work happening in a neighbour’s building. We will provide our professional opinion on whether the chimney is safe, and if not, we will provide recommendations you can then use with your contractors to resolve the risk.

Roof rafter or purlin failure

The failure of roof rafters or purlins can often be because of a change of roof covering, (e.g. switching slates for cheaper but heavier concrete tiles), the addition of solar panels, a change of use in the roof space, environmental factors like strong winds or excessive snow loading, the failure of structural elements in the roof or poor workmanship such as the omission of raking struts. Please contact us to arrange an inspection of the roof structure, after which, one of our local Chartered Structural Engineers will provide a report of our findings, which will include instructions you can use with your contractor to strengthen the roof structure to an adequate level.

Roof spread

Especially common in Victorian houses, roof spread occurs when the weight of the pitched roof pushes down on the triangular roof structure, forcing the rafters down and outwards and bowing the walls. This causes leaning and cracking of the walls, seen in particular from outside the building at the top of the walls. Another sign is a sagging roof line, again, when viewed from the outside. If you have observed any of these symptoms in your home, please call us straight away and book one of our Chartered Structural Engineers to visit the site and confirm either way, whether or not you have roof spread. Regardless, we will find the cause of the issues and list our findings, together with our recommendations, in a comprehensive report.

Solar panel support

People often underestimate the weight of solar panels and the weight of the equipment and people that are required to install them. We are able to work with your solar installers to assess the structural strength of your existing roof structure and determine whether or not the structure needs augmenting. Similarly, if your installers did not consult a structural engineer prior to installing the panels, and you have noticed signs of structural concern such as roof spread, a sagging roof line, bulging walls or cracks, and you believe you have a legal case against the installers for negligence, you can call upon us as an expert witness, to provide a CPR-compliant report you can use with your solicitors or with your insurance company. Finally, we can recommend a method of strengthening your roof structure to accommodate the panels and if required, design the new structure for your builder to use.

Structural element defects

Arch or lintel failures

Arches or lintels normally start to fail because of displacement of the structure or foundations on either side, or from factors such as rotting of the timber. Displacement can be due to settlement of foundations, changing loads on the structure, insufficient structure, (e.g. a lintel incorrectly sitting on a timber frame) or thermal expansion of the structure. Whatever the cause, our chartered structural engineer will inspect the structure, diagnose the issue and prepare a report with photos and supporting materials that provide information on the cause of the defect and a recommendation for the resolution.

Balcony failures

We are often called to inspect steel balconies, reinforced concrete balconies or balcony balustrades that are showing signs of failure. Tell-tale signs of potential problems include rust stains on the underside of the balcony, balustrading coming loose and cracks appearing in the floor finishes. A lot of balconies are designed by builders, not engineers or architects, so the structural design may not have been considered to enough of a degree. Also they tend to have cast iron railings, which corrode. In other cases, balconies pull away from their embedment in the brickwork. We are experts at diagnosing any form of balcony or balustrade structural defect, and giving you a set of recommendations for how to resolve the issue and make it safe again.

Bay windows

On account of their method of construction, bay windows are often subject to structural issues relating to non-typical loading from above, and to ground movement from below. Often the structure of the bay will show cracking and the cause of this defect needs to be correctly diagnosed. Please engage Abbott Holliday Partnership to inspect the building itself, the surrounding structure, the ground type and many other factors, after which we will report on the cause and resolution of the issue, which could be underpinning the bay window and strengthening the foundations, or lifting and re-levelling.

Cracks & structural movement in walls, floors and ceilings

Cracks are caused by such a wide range of factors, (e.g. poor workmanship, heave, subsidence, settlement, corrosion, overloading, drainage), they can appear in almost any structural element, (e.g. walls, floors, ceilings, plasterboard, non-load-bearing walls, extensions, concrete beams, outside ground) and there are so many different types of crack, (e.g. vertical, horizontal, diagonal, stepped, hairline, multiple). The problem is worsened because some may be static and historical and some may be active and worsening. Our structural engineers are all chartered, and are best positioned to examine and monitor the cracks in your building, diagnose the cause and provide you with a set of recommendations to have the problem fixed.

Distortions

Distortion of a structural element occurs when you have both a curvature in that structural element, and a strain on it in the direction of the loading, (which is called an axial strain). When inspecting any cases of structural distortion, we will measure the root cause and magnitude of the strain and the size of the curvature. We will then provide a report to advise you on whether the distortion is historical and the structure is stable, or if it is active and therefore likely to get worse. We will recommend a suitable way to resolve the issue and provide inputs for your contractor to use, to make the structure safe once again.

Excessive deflection of beams, joists, roof timbers

When excessive loads are put on structural elements like beams, joists or roof timbers, it can cause deflection. All structural elements deflect to a certain amount, which is built in as a tolerance by the engineer, builder or manufacturer. However, they become excessive when the loading (weight or pressure) applied to them is more than they’re designed for. For example, if a loft conversion is conducted in a roof space not designed for habitable use, you may observe sagging beams. Or if slate tiles are replaced by much heavier concrete tiles, you would see sagging purlins or deflecting roof joists. Deflection can also occur when the structure has been incorrectly built, if there has been settlement in the ground under the structure, or if the structure has been subjected to local or environmental factors such as heat, corrosion, nearby building work and so on. In many cases, our reports on excessive deflection of beams, joists or roof timbers provide you with guidance on exactly how to strengthen or augment the existing structure to cope with these changing loads.

Expansion joints

An expansion joint is used between different parts of the same structure, where the structure may be expanding or shrinking with the movement of the ground or the changing heat or humidity. Therefore, they are designed to allow the structure to move. However, if you suspect that the separation of the structural elements is continuing to increase beyond the safe limits of the design, this increasing separation in the expansion joints needs monitoring by a chartered structural engineer. If we inspect the joint and conclude that the separation is likely to continue, we will propose a solution. In the case of increasing separation of foundation expansion joints, (between concrete foundation slabs), proper inspection is vital as the increased separation could have more impactful consequences to the structural stability of the building.

Leaking drains

Leaking drains can be the cause of so many structural issues, which extend beyond simple damp damage. It can cause heave in the ground that supports your foundations, surface run-off can erode the ground supporting the foundations, it can accelerate corrosion of steel reinforcement or cast iron structural elements, and it can cause issues for neighbours, leaving you exposed to the risk of litigation. All of this can occur because of ground movement causing unseen drain damage underground. This will need proper diagnosis and repair, all of which we can consult on, to provide you with a full picture of the issue and guidelines on the required fix. Our report is also likely to be required as part of your insurance claim.

Portico cracking

A portico may or may not bear load from the building above, but as with conservatories or kitchen extensions, they can still show signs of structural failure like cracking or leaning, on account of their own weight, (often stone construction) and their foundations. Conditions such as heave and settlement can affect the foundation of a portico as it may not be part of the original foundation that supports the main building. Likewise, as it protrudes from the building, it can be more susceptible to other conditions such as erosion, settlement or even vehicle impact. Please give us a call to discuss the issues with your portico and one of our local Chartered Structural Engineers will visit to diagnose the issue and recommend a solution.

Pre-purchase structural engineer’s reports

If you are considering purchasing a building but want reassurance that it is structurally sound, or maybe you have spotted something like a crack or a leaning wall on your way round, and you want to know if it is of structural concern, please ask us to conduct a full pre-purchase structural survey. Unlike a Home Buyer survey, which might be able to identify features of a structural defect and speculate as to its cause, a Structural Engineer’s survey can give you a very conclusive and reliable diagnosis, and advice on your options if you were to go ahead with the purchase. In some cases, Home Buyer surveys recommend a full structural survey, so if the defect appears to you to be structural in nature, it may be faster and cheaper to go straight to the structural survey. Unlike many other Structural Engineering firms, we won’t recommend monitoring over 6 months, (as you need an answer now), all our engineers are chartered, all our reports are peer-reviewed by at least one other Structural Engineer and we have engineers across London and the South-East, so your engineer will be local to you. Please call us today to discuss, or to book in a survey.

RAAC inspections

RAAC (or Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete) is a type of concrete that is porous enough to allow water to permeate and cause potential corrosion to the steel reinforcement inside. If this corrosion occurs, it can cause failure to the structural properties of the concrete. Our Chartered Structural Engineers have expertise in both identifying the presence of RAAC where the client may be unsure, and where structural damage is observed, advising whether or not remedial work is required. Our inspection will cover deflection, cracking, debonding, change in loading, ponding and so on. We may recommend remedial works such as replacement of RAAC units with excessive deflection or inadequate bearings, addition of new supports, addition of new structure or, in extreme cases, total reconstruction.

Consulting Structural and Civil Engineers

Wall defects

Boundary wall repairs

Defects in boundary walls at the edge of a property can lead to the need for the wall to be demolished and rebuilt, or in many cases, repaired. In some cases, the ground or the foundations under the wall are the source of the problem. If there is a neighbour’s land or property on the other side of the wall, this is classed as a Party Wall, and any structural engineering or construction work will need to be carried out with their knowledge and consent. In some cases, boundary walls may also be retaining walls, which support the ground above it, where the forces of gravity would otherwise result in that upper ground slumping down. The lateral forces at play in these kinds of walls, as well as the regular ground movement sometimes found beneath a wall’s foundations, can lead to many types of structural defects, which would need to be inspected by a Chartered Structural Engineer. Please call us to discuss your boundary wall.

Bowing walls

A bowing wall is a wall that begins with cracks and continues to buckle, putting strain on the structural stability of the building. It is common in basement walls, retaining walls, in properties where the ground has moved or settled, or in cases where an existing structure is now needing to support additional loads like in the case of a loft extension. Most walls can tolerate a small amount of bowing. Anything less than a couple of inches, we can monitor this for you and if it is not increasing, we may suggest that cosmetic repair is sufficient to fill and cover cracks. However, if it is a greater level of bowing, or if monitoring shows that it is actively moving, we will advise on steps that need to be taken to prevent it getting worse. This may involve a inspection of the ground type, a survey of local environmental factors or an analysis of the load properties in the rest of the building. Either way, please give us a call to discuss the case.

Gable wall failure

There are many signs that indicate the structural failure of gable walls, especially in older buildings. These include cracking, sagging and bulging in the wall, gaps forming around window frames and sills, crumbling damp-damaged mortar between brick courses, leaning chimney stacks and gaps forming between the floor and inside face of the gable wall. The gable walls in older buildings are often single leaf brickwork and are not load-bearing, so builders often neglect important priorities for gable walls such as proper feathering into the main structure, proper protection from the weather and proper bracing on account of their large size, (especially if they’re single leaf). At Abbott Holliday Partnership, our Chartered Structural Engineers are experts in identifying structural issues with gable walls, and specifying the best way to fix them. We would be happy to discuss the symptoms and solutions for your case.

Leaning walls and structures advice

If you have a leaning wall or a leaning wall feature like a chimney or retaining wall, this could be because of historical factors and may be of no structural concern to the rest of the building. However, the problem could be active and worsening. The best and most assured way of diagnosing the issue is to engage a local Chartered Structural Engineer such as Abbott Holliday Partnership. We will inspect the defect and surrounding construction, diagnose the cause, whether or not it is active and what to do to resolve the issue.

Retaining wall inspections

Issues with retaining walls can arise because of incorrect design, poor workmanship during construction, natural ground movement, or ground movement occurring as the result of human activity such as nearby construction, heavy vehicle use above the wall, removal of nearby trees and drainage issues. Whatever the cause, one of our local Chartered Structural Engineers can inspect the site, diagnose the problem and recommend a solution in a comprehensive report.

Every commission is handled personally by one of our highly experienced chartered engineers

Consulting Structural and Civil Engineers