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The Seven Deadly Sins of Trussed Rafter Construction - Part 1

Conservative estimates would suggest there is somewhere in excess of 60 million trussed rafters in service in the UK. To date, there has been no known failure of a trussed rafter in its “ex factory” condition, a remarkable safety record. However, experience has shown that trussed rafters are not always well understood by the people who specify them or who erect them. Such misunderstanding can, in some circumstances, lead to poor installation or worse unsuitable alteration.

Arches and Lintels

Part 1 - Arches

Arches and lintels are found wherever it is necessary to support a wall etc over an opening which is usually not more than about two metres wide. They provide support in completely different ways and an understanding of this is fundamental to selecting, specifying and assessing them. Arches depend for their support on the masonry surrounding them. This provides the resistance to the forces generated by the shape of the arch and the loading on it. This Paper focuses on the arches themselves and does not include problems arising in arches from external causes such as subsidence or movement of the building itself.

Bats and Buildings

The UK has 18 species of bats that range from common to rare. As they can be found roosting within a building they are a material consideration when submitting a planning application and therefore planning officers will need to be satisfied the development will have no net impact on bats.

Buildings Behaving Badly: Acoustic Noise

The revision of the 1992 ADE version was long overdue, and it introduced pre-completion testing to ensure that residential properties and uses complied with the requirements. The revision has given ‘teeth’ to the ADE regulations and after some initial teething troubles with the scheme, builders have responded very positively to the challenge. ‘Compliance’ rates for the properties tested are now more than 95% for the basic ‘minimum standard’ required by ADE. Higher standards of performance are now rewarded by the points system associated with EcoHomes and the Code for Sustainable Homes. The performance standards of Robust Details are also generally significantly above the minimum standard, particularly for walls. Is the ‘minimum standard’ required by ADE too low when the current market expectation is for better sound insulation performance?

Invasive Weeds: A Barrier To Development

Environmental catastrophe or manageable nuisance? This paper reveals the dangers of allowing invasive weeds such as Japanese knotweed to remain untreated. This can lead to damage to hard structures, public health issues and further liabilities can also be incurred if the plants are allowed to spread to adjacent properties. Current legislation, identification, effective methods of eradication and pitfalls are described, allowing the delegate to understand all pertinent issues when they encounter invasive weeds on the sites they consult on in the future.

Lime Mortar, Plaster and Render

Modern builders seem to talk mainly about Portland cement mortars and Gypsum plaster, only a few know that the use of lime mortar dates back to the Neolithic Period some 8500 years ago. Furthermore, mortar of that period survives today. One of the best examples is the water tanks built to maintain the supply of water for Herod’s Palace at Ramallah. These tanks, built of stone and rendered internally with lime mortar, still hold water today. The reason being, that the plasterers understood ‘working a partially cured lime’. Other well known examples of the use of lime include the use of volcanic ash to act as pozzolana to produce hydraulic lime.

Bricks and Brickwork

Everything you have ever wanted to know about bricks for building

There are Buildings still standing around the world, from Roman times and before that, confirming that brick is a durable material. Until recent years, most buildings were built from a limited range of local bricks, employing traditional well tried methods and details. Today, modern manufacturing methods and a nationwide road and rail system make bricks from all manufacturers available everywhere. To achieve long-term durability of brickwork in modern buildings, account must be taken of the physical properties of the bricks and mortars, as well as the degree of exposure to which parts of the building will be subjected. Knowledge and experience of local bricks and building methods is now supplemented by the wider collective experience which has been built up over the years within the brick industry, and forms the basis of the guidance offered in this paper. Saturation by water is the commonest potential enemy of brickwork, but recognition of this by appropriate design, specification and workmanship will ensure that modern brickwork will remain relatively maintenance free.

The Party Wall etc Act 1996

Bickford-Smith and Sydenham in their book "Party Walls Law and Practice", 2nd Ed, trace the origins of party wall legislation to the Great Fire of London in 1666. A statute was passed the following year to regulate the construction of party walls between adjoining houses in the City of London to prevent a further conflagration. Subsequent legislation, culminating in the London Buildings Act 1894, conferred rights in respect of the alteration or demolition of party walls. This legislation was re-enacted in the London Buildings Act 1930 and then the London Buildings Act (Amendment) Act 1939, but the provisions only applied to the inner London boroughs. It was not until 1 July 1997, with the bringing into force of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 that the legislation was extended to the whole country. The Party Wall etc Act 1996 basically re-enacted the law as contained in the 1930 and 1939 Acts. Little attempt was made to clarify the law and deal with anomalies in the previous legislation. Decisions on the interpretation of the old law are thus relevant to the present Act. Suggestions for reform have been made, for example, by the Pyramus and Thisbe Club on behalf of surveyors and by Bickford Smith and Sydenham. Despite the setting up of a working party by Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, there has so far been no reform.

Basement Waterproofing Using Cavity Drain Membrane

For several decades the incorporation of Basements into residential schemes has been neglected. Today with increased land prices and shortages of large building plots the domestic Basement is now back in fashion. This paper demonstrates how modern basement waterproofing techniques can be employed to create dry usable basement spaces for both new build and refurbishment situations.