1. The Poor Quality of the Brickwork
There has been no reasonable care or skill taken on any of the brickwork undertaken on our home by Loftplan Designs Limited. We initially raised our concerns at the beginning of April 2014 when without warning they started to remove the scaffolding, indicating that the work was complete in their eyes.
The specific issues with the brickwork are as follows:
The rows aren’t level or straight – the bricklayer started on the front corner and as he built up the corner, he toothed the brickwork on the gable side. Local builders have confirmed that this is poor practice especially given that he used this technique to build up to what was the original height of the house, and as his brickwork was neither level nor straight, this caused further issues as he then tried to tie into this later on, in particular leading to the level being incorrect at the rear left of the house.
The bonding pattern is haphazard
The quoining pattern on our home is a simple pattern. However, the quoining on the rear left of the house is out of sync and only corbelled on one side.
The quoining pattern at the front right of the house is also incorrect, not corbelled and in one part, there are only two rows where there should be three – the plan doesn’t show quoining here because the original smaller column didn’t have the quoining pattern. However, during the build, the foreman suggested they could do this as it wouldn’t look correct without it as it wouldn’t match the rest of the house. However, it was only once they had demolished the existing column that Loftplan informed us that they could not re-build it with a corbel. As this was at the beginning of the brickwork stage and we were unaware of the bricklayer’s limitations, we accepted this. Two building companies have since confirmed to us however, that to corbel the brickwork on the front facing is a simple task, and only requires a bit more effort to do the side facing. Furthermore when the foreman came to oversee other outstanding works on 12th July, he again insisted that the pattern was correct, but it is clearly evident that it isn’t.
The joints are of varying sizes
The pointing that has not been redone has gaps in it
The pointing that has been reworked during visits in April has no more than a 2mm skim in places
The mortar varies in colour – three builders that we have had round to view the work all say that although we have three different colours, none of them are correct and have said the wrong colour sand has been used.
The bricks that have been cut are not straight
There is mortar on the face of the bricks and key stones
Poor quality control of bricks with damaged faces
Loftplan Designs Limited reneged on their commitment to redo the brickwork during three separate meetings, and so on the recommendation of the Federation of Master Builders, we instigated the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Adjudication process in July 2014.
2. Cavity wall ties
Building Control have verified that there are insufficient cavity wall ties to comply with Part A. Structure of the Building Regulations 2000. We first raised our concerns during the build that there seemed to be an inadequate number of ties and were told categorically that the correct number were being used. It was only when the extent of the poor brickwork became evident that we became concerned and researched the matter, which further convinced us we were right. However, Loftplan continued to maintain that sufficient ties had been inserted, insisting this was a basic practice and they wouldn’t make such an error, and we didn’t push the point in April, because we had received their commitment at this point to replace all the brickwork with the exception of the left gable end, but even then they had agreed to rebuild this if our suspicions regarding insufficient ties were proved true. Furthermore we had contacted Building Control and they had agreed to attend the demolition to verify the ties. It was after Loftplan reneged on this commitment that we contacted Building Control again and following a site visit, during which the inspector remarked on the poor quality of the brickwork, he suggested he could carry out a retrospective inspection of a section of wall using a Borescope camera. This he did on 26th June 2014 and notified Loftplan by phone on the same day, confirming by email on 7th July 2014.
3. Cavity Trays
Given points 1 and 2 above, coupled with the fact that there are no weep holes above the side gable window (something that again we have had to bring to Loftplan’s attention), we were also concerned that there were issues with the cavity trays, which in fact there are, again despite Loftplan’s assurances to the contrary. But by drilling through from the inside to access the cavity above the window opening on the left gable wall, it was evident that there is a build up of mortar debris which doesn’t comply with Building Regulations as the cavity must be kept clear, and that the cavity tray has been fixed to the face of the membrane covering the timber frame, rather than being tucked in behind it, which is not good building practice.
(Read more with the issues and reviews of other Loftplan Designs Limited customers)