During the mid-war period the government encouraged housing boom led to new forms of construction, some of which purposely mirrored the traditional stocks of the time; two of these forms, concrete and steel frame, have had some problems, mainly from corrosion of the ferrous elements.  Indeed, some were designated defective by various housing acts.

 

Roughly 6% of the 4.5m houses built mid wars were by new methods (non-traditional) and they were mostly built for local authority use.

 

Most non-traditional housing systems have performed well from a structural point of view, although some problems developed with several systems -built dwellings mostly due to carbonation in concrete houses and rusting of the various members in steel framed houses.   This led to Mortgage companies not lending on these properties and was followed by the 1984 Housing Defects Act required that lists be drawn up of these properties by the local councils and grants were made towards the cost of repairing defects.  Local authorities have over the years corrected the problems.

It can be argued that to avoid detection, their architecture was altered as they underwent upgrading to look like period properties.

 

The problems arose from carbonation in concrete and rusting in steel – both problems are the result of each material not being protected from gasses in the air, carbon di oxide where concrete is concerned and oxygen for steel.

 

Concrete:

Carbonation is a chemical reaction between the carbon dioxide in air and the cement in concrete and results in the reduction in alkalinity of the concrete which can remove the protective passive layer surrounding the ferrous reinforcing steel and in combination with water can lead to corrosion – rust – the signs are rust staining, cracking and spalling as the steel has starts to corrode.  If only partial carbonation can be remediated by reinforcement coatings or cathodic protection (this polarises the steel and repels chloride ions thus increasing the alkalinity (good ol’ chemistry!!)

Steel

The steel frames (usually housed within cavities) were galvanised, painted or otherwise protected.  However, if the protection breaks down the steel rusts and therefore it is prudent that a maintenance regime be established, however it was thought that the steel framed systems were for life!!  Thankfully breakdown and rust occur at vulnerable points, not throughout a system.

Importantly the clear majority of steel framed dwellings have given levels of performance not very different from many traditionally built dwellings of the same age and there is no reason steel framed and steel clad dwellings and cast iron dwellings should not give good performance into the foreseeable future, and certainly on a par with the life conventionally assumed for rehabilitated dwellings built in conventional construction.”

Bruce Spenser MSc MCIOB | Party Wall Surveyor | Building Surveyor | Third Surveyor

 12 Forburg Road, Stoke Newington, London N16 6HS

Chartered Building Consultant Bruce Spenser MSc MCIOB
Rosie Wedderburn
Rosie Wedderburn
20:54 19 Jan 20
Bruce was exceptionally quick to respond to survey request and the survey was conducted speedily and extremely... thoroughly. Bruce organised access to the property via the estate agents (so I didn't have to send lots of chaser emails to either party). Definitely recommend.read more
Mark Lazarus
Mark Lazarus
12:17 16 Jan 20
Detailed survey, organised efficiently. Very pleasant to talk to. Would recommend!
Kimmy's Hands
Kimmy's Hands
19:55 13 Jan 20
Prompt & professional service. Bruce went above and beyond what I had hoped for. I would recommend 100%
Rod Jones
Rod Jones
21:26 18 Dec 19
In August 2019 Bruce Spenser carried out a survey for me on a Victorian flat conversion, to a very high standard,... saving me from a potential bad purchase. He is highly professional and his vast experience is clear. Highly recommended. Subsequently I used Bruce to survey an alternative property in Dec 2019. Again his expertise did not disappoint and this time will result in a successful purchase subject to negotiations etc. Highly recommended.read more
Felipe Castrillon
Felipe Castrillon
12:32 28 Nov 19
Helpful advice answer my questions out of hours and responded very promptly
Samuel Myer
Samuel Myer
10:21 02 Oct 19
Bruce was recommended to me via my brother after he provided excellent party wall service when he had a dispute with... his neighbour and the council. Very happy with the service he provided. He is a fair and just person operating in what can be a very confusing and ultimately exploitative part of the law.read more
Tom Neff
Tom Neff
17:09 20 Sep 19
I’ve met a few true craftsmen in my time, and I can say with confidence that Bruce is one of them. In less than week... of calling him to see if he was available, he had performed a comprehensive survey of a property with a tight time constraint I had put an offer on, sent me a full report, then called me to discuss his findings. Thorough, professional, timely. I can’t recommend him enough. I will be using his services again in the future.read more
Carlo Giovine
Carlo Giovine
09:10 18 Apr 19
Bruce's home survey was excellent, thorough and prompt. Albeit he is roughly 50% more expensive than other surveyors,... his review has been tremendously valuable to us and helped us to potentially save tens of thousands of pounds of works that we would incurred into after home purchase. He discussed his survey in details, provided advice on the overall negotiation process and offered to further review additional documents to ensure our purchase is sound. We feel Bruce has been our partner in this process as opposed to a transactional advisor, simply completing his assignment.read more
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