Structural report on cracking due to trees, drains, refurbishment works


A homebuyers report might have noticed cracking in a property and recommend further investigation by a structural engineer. 

There are many reasons why cracking can occur and not all of them are due to structural movement.

Our investigation will initially establish whether or not the cause of the cracking is structural.  If we judge the issue is structural, then we would go onto determine why the movement has occurred.  Internally, it may be due to a beam or floor sagging but there are also external causes that can often play a part.

Trees draw water from the soil, with different species of trees needing different amounts of water.   In many soil types, this activity does not affect have any effect on adjacent foundations.  In clay soils, which support a good deal of London, they can cause problems as the way the clay supports the building changes with the water in the clay.  Structures-Made-Easy would investigate the ground conditions and local planting to inform our analysis of whether the trees are having an effect on the foundations or ground floor slabs.

In the same way foundations can be affected by moisture changes in the ground due to trees, similar effects can occur due to below ground drainage.   Drainage beneath our drives or gardens is often a similar age to the house, and may move slightly over the years under the influence of trees or minor settlement.  That movement can allow leaks from the drains, with the leaks changing the moisture content of the surrounding ground.  Again, this may change the way some soils support your property and therefore cause the cracking.  Structures-Made-Easy would investigate if this could be a cause then recommend you appoint a specialist to carry out a CCTV survey of the drains to establish if any leaking is occurring.

Refurbishment of part or all of a property or adjacent construction work can also be a cause of structural movement.  If you are remodelling your property, perhaps removing a wall internally, converting the loft to habitable space or extending your home then this may lead to structural movement elsewhere in your property.  That structural movement can then cause cracking.  We would visit the property to inspect the cracking, looking at its location and pattern and also understand the nature of the refurbishment works.  We can then draw informed conclusions on the influence of the refurbishment on the surrounding walls, floors, beams and foundations.

Refurbishment or building works can influence the structure or foundations of your property even if they are being carried out in buildings close to your property.  It might be an extension to the house next door or a new tower of flats 20m away, but both can still affect your foundations and possible cause cracking or distress to your property.  Structures-Made-Easy would visit site or contact the neighbours to get an understanding of the nature of their work.  This, in combination with our examination of all other possible influences, would help us determine the cause of any structural movement.

If you would like to discuss further please feel free to contact us using our email or call us on 0207 965 7376  

Case studies

View Project

Acton 02 Ealing West London W3

Domestic conversion and extension.

View Project

Chiswick 01 Hounslow West London W3

Domestic conversion, extension and loft conversion.

View Project

Acton 01 Ealing West London W3

Domestic refurbishment and extension with internal alterations including Chimney removal

View Project

Brent 01 London NW10

Domestic ground floor side extension to outrigger of a terrace house.


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