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Thirties bungalow with problems - who do we get to do things

(9 Posts)
ibbydibby Wed 15-Jun-11 10:08:24

DH and I are floundering.

we have lived in extended thirties bungalow for 3 years, and in that time have converted oil central heating to LPG gas tank sunk in garden (no mains gas here). This work was major upheaval and very stressful. We have also had our shower-room completely replaced, ie down to getting insulated plasterboard on walls, new plumbing/toilet/basin/shower/tiling etc.

However we have problems like possible dampness, a patch in the outside lounge wall which seems to let in the rain when the wind is from the west, we need the floor relevelling etc etc. Ideally we need all this sort of repair jobs before we start on decorating to make it all smart/up to date/pleasant to live in etc etc (lounge has one bare plastered wall at present - has been like this for 2 years).

The problem is a) DH and I lack motivation to get things sorted (preferring to do garden and other hobbies etc) and b) we don't seem to be able to track down the right sort of person.

We have had the preferred, much in demand builder do some work for us - he put in a new window, and was involved in our shower room replacement. But we have been asking him for 2 years to sort out our damp lounge wall, and he says he will, but hasn't. In the meantime he has done some work for people we know who moved into their house in October, ie months after we first started asking. He has promised to come round on 2 occasions this year but has not shown up. Even as our type I realise it is probably too small a job for him.

Anyway this morning have had different local builder round to look at damp wall. He advised that we take off the rendering on the outside wall and re-do (whole gable end), also coating brickwork at bottom with product called "rain-cote"(?)

I feel so disappointed as I really wanted someone to take on the work of sorting the wall out - I feel as if we don't really know what we are doing to take it on ourselves. And what if we get the whole gable end repainted, and then find the brickwork needs some repair?

So really just posting to see if anyone can advise a way forward - are there other tradespeople I should be asking other than builders?

I am not sure if we would be better off trying to sell and starting again in a newer house in a better state of repair (though DH not keen). Sorry this has turned into a long spiel and thank you for reading this far!

Sidge Wed 15-Jun-11 10:13:10

There are specialist companies who do rendering (and re-rendering) - no doubt you will pay a princely sum for them but IMO I'd rather pay and get the job done properly than do it myself!

Selling is tricky because in all likelihood you will need to get some of the work done to achieve a sale anyway, as damp will show up on any potential buyer's survey. It depends how far along you want to go with renovation/maintenance.

GrendelsMum Wed 15-Jun-11 10:33:24

If you've got a bunch of works, that might make a reasonable job for your preferred builder.

Do you hassle your preferred builder? I mean as in phoning the week before to confirm, phoning again the day before to 'confirm times he'll arrive', phoning at 8am to ask why he isn't there yet, etc? I wonder whether he's realising that you're not really that focused on the house compared to the garden, and so he keeps delaying you.

ibbydibby Wed 15-Jun-11 11:33:55

Thanks Sidge and Grendelsmum. Preferred builder seems to be a law unto himself, ie phone him, yes he'll come x evening. Doesn't come. Phone again, yes he'll come Y evening. Doesn't come.

Since posting I have been googling rendering people in our area, and am actually wondering if our jobs (damp wall/wonky floor/poss damp proof course needs replacing) are not for builders but for people specialising in these things? And if so why can't 2 bulders suggest this? This is why I say we are floundering as we don't know who to ask/what to do.

Re the garden comment - think it is escapism, it is also a bit of a dump and could do with major improvement, but need to spend money indoors. Do't think the buidler thinks we are just focussed on the garden. I really think our jobs are not major building jobs so not interested - but wish he would say so (he has reputation in village for delaying small things, so maybe he is not "preferred" builder after all.

GrendelsMum Wed 15-Jun-11 17:23:33

I'd make a list of everything that needs doing to have the house perfect (don't get depressed when you see it written down), and then post it on here for people to advise you on who you need to get, and what order to do the works in.

Damp is a bit of a tricky one - I don't know anything about 30s bungalows, but with older houses there's quite a lot of controversy about whether you should or shouldn't have a damp proof course. If you post on here about with details about what the house is built from and maybe a photo, you might get some advice.

ibbydibby Wed 15-Jun-11 20:58:25

thank you Grendelsmum that's a very kind suggestion.

So I think we need to do the following: (numbered in what I think is the correct order)

1) damp proof (at least, get it checked). I have been motivated by comments here and on another thread and got someone coming tomorrow to have a look. Will look for other companies in Yellow PAges
2) lounge/dining room floor levelled

at this stage we could have a wood burner installed in lounge assuming floor and dampness now all sorted.

3) get 3 windows replaced (not in lounge, but will need to replace these before any rendering work is done as will make a mess if done afterwards

4) get someone to look at rendering on west side of house, to try to sort out what is causing a damp patch inside. Then possibly have house rerenderend (eek)

5) once inside wall is fixed have some kind of insulating plasterboard put up (is this possible? had something like this done in previously freezing cold showerroom

6) Redecorate lounge (if sufficient funds after all of above)

sounds a bit overwhelming but am also realising that it is helpful to write things down. Will try and post a piccie tomorrow - outside of house? inside?

mermaidspurse Thu 16-Jun-11 12:51:19

hi, insulating plasterboard a must. Our 30s bungalow is only single pot block and holds no heat and we can't have cavity wall insulation.
Leading on to wood burner essential imo and also see if you can have a backburner to heat water.
Has the rendering blown? it will sound hollow I think if it has. We were thinking of spraying on some waterproof stuff, a fairly standard thing done down here by desperate people with webbed feet in the SW!
I usually move on to another builder etc if they mess around.
Good luck

GrendelsMum Fri 17-Jun-11 14:31:16

I think that you should investigate both damp problems together. You should get an independent consultant to check it, rather than someone who will only get work if they find damp. I think you should perhaps also ask the consultant about your plan to level the floor, in case it causes issues with the damp proof course.

You know that a lot of damp problems are caused by initially minor issues like blocked gutters, soil levels against the house rising and so on? Have you checked all your gutters? Do you have solid surfaces like concrete right up to your walls?

This might be of help:
http://www.spab.org.uk/advice/technical-qas/

To find new builders, why not see if you can see anyone else nearby with builders in, and knock on the door to ask if they'd recommend the builder? People are usually very pleased to be told that their building works look as though they're going well.

For the windows, you probably want a small local company, not the hard-sell national companies. I think you'll find advice on that if you search on here.

Insulating plasterboard sounds good - we're going to ask our carpenter / builder to do that for us.

Having the house re-rendered may be very expensive, so I think that you might be better off not putting in the wood burner (which could be pricey) until you've paid for that.

I'd do them in an order more like this

1. Investigate damp issues
2. do general maintenance to prevent damp if necessary
3. get windows replaced
4. damp proof if necessary
5. re-render if necessary for damp
6. have floor levelled if necessary
7. have stove if you can afford it
8. redecorate

Pendeen Fri 17-Jun-11 16:22:42

OP, Grendelsmum has the right idea, get some profesional advice.

Try: www.rics.org/contact and follow the links either to get the 'phone number or to the 'Find a surveyor' link and then look for 'Chartered Building Surveyors'.

I have found the RICS to be very helpful when I have needed assistance from land surveyors or quantity surveyors.

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