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New conservatory roof guide

New conservatory roof guide available

Conservatory roof guide

A newly re-issued guide clarifies how you should go about replacing a translucent conservatory roof with any solid roof systems that have LABC Registered Details certification, and outlines the conditions you’re expected to meet to ensure the structure complies with the Building Regs.

Whilst most existing conservatories will be able to support the increased loads, potential pitfalls include inadequate foundations that could move and cause settlement differences between the conservatory and the existing house, leading to cracks and water leakage; inadequate window/door supports to take the loads.

What building control will look at:

  • Building control will inspect the existing conservatory to ensure it can take the additional load of the new roof. If there are no signs of distress then it’s unlikely the new roof will cause a failure of the structure to the conservatory. This should already have been assessed by the surveyor of the company before carrying out any work.
  • Building control will also check that the existing door supports contain steel inserts to distribute the roof load down to the floor slab. Again, this should already have been assessed by the surveyor of the company before carrying out any work.
  • Signs of distress may mean that the existing foundations aren’t sufficient to carry the additional loads and so additional requirements are likely to be imposed on you.
  • Your LABC surveyor will also want to ensure that the new roof and supporting structure fully complies with the Regs and the remainder of the extension should be no worse than before.

Get more information by downloading your free copy of LABC’s re-issued guidance on solid roofs to conservatories or porches attached to dwellings.

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FMB Choosing a builder


Finding a builder doesn’t need to be difficult. Here are some handy hints for finding the right builder for your project.


Find a Builder consumer

There’s nothing better than a recommendation from a friend or family member who’s had building work done. If family and friends can’t help, use our Find A Builder service search for professional builders in your local area. FMB Members are checked and inspected at the point of joining, and can offer you a warranty on your work through FMB Insurance Services.


This is your project so make sure you get exactly what you want. Produce a written brief, including detailed drawings where possible, and give a copy to each builder who quotes.


Ask at least 3 builders to quote on your job and don’t just go with the cheapest. Look at the breakdown of costs, if some seem a lot cheaper than others ask how they will achieve it for the price without cutting corners.


Read the quotes carefully and check that they include everything you would like done including the removal of rubbish, site waste and the specification of any fixtures and fittings.


Go and visit some of the builders’ previous jobs. Most reputable traders will be more than happy to show off their previous work and while you’re there you can get a personal reference from a satisfied customer.

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Retaining wall basics

Retaining wall basics

Retaining walls can be tricky to build as they need to be strong enough to resist horizontal soil pressure where there are differing ground levels.

One of the things you must get right is the thickness of the wall. It should be at least 215mm thick and bonded or made of two separate brick skins tied together. This should be enough in most cases with minimal water pressure or where the ground level difference is less than a metre.

You also need to consider the effect of ground water, which can create huge pressure on the wall and soak the brickwork if allowed to accumulate behind. Create a way out for the water by adding a gravel trench and pipes through the wall.

If not properly constructed, water can also penetrate the brickwork structure from above through the mortar joints, affecting the long-term durability of the wall. So add brick copings, which must always be F2, S2 (frost-resistant low soluble salts), with an overhang and drip groove to minimise water damage.

Important points

  • Don’t forget to include movement joints in the wall and use piers on either side to increase strength at the movement joint position.
  • If you’re using two separate brick skins in stretcher bond, you have to provide reinforcement by tying them together. Use stainless steel bed-joint reinforcement every third course to boost the strength.
  • Use a high-bond damp proof course below the capping/coping and sandwich the DPC in mortar.
  • Waterproof the retaining side of the wall and allow water to drain away from this side through weep holes/pipes.
  • Slope paving away from the wall and provide gravel drainage strips where possible.
  • Don’t forget to protect waterproofing from damage while you’re building.
  • Don’t build higher than one metre without involving a structural engineer

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