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Cracks forming/getting worse around windows - Victorian house - WTF?!

(17 Posts)
expatinscotland Sat 04-Oct-08 17:12:07

K, we are renting this house from friends who are living abroad until October, 2009.

It was built around 1900 and has a due East/West aspect, with the front door facing almost due East.

It's a stone bungalow located across a road (about 30m) from a Scottish sea loch, with a back garden that borders national forest land.

It is built into a hill.

There was once a burn/stream running down its left side, which has been sort of dammed up into a multi-level pond with a drain running alongside the house.

All the downwards gutters are metal.

The ones under the roof at plastic and replaced a few years ago.

Roof is red tiles.

The windows are the original sash ones - stained glass top casements and large and numerous.

There is secondary glazing (landlord has had double glazing quotes from £10,000-£15,000).

Loft uncoverted.

HUGE mature garden, but no tall trees.

Old coal shed now used at utility room off the kitchen, facing West.

This year since last October has been very wet, abnormally so. Wettest on record.

DH noticed damp coming into kitchen, gutters full of moss. Landlord has arranged for a professional to clean them out.

He noticed, however, today, cracks forming or worsening basically ALL the windows and one coming down from the eves to a large bay window.

Anyone, any of your period-property dwellers, have any idea why this is happening?

Summer was abnormally wet and cold.

It has now hit freezing for 3 nights in a row and tonight will be no exception, although clear.

TIA

pooka Sat 04-Oct-08 17:16:22

No expert but the only thing from your post that made me wonder, was the plastic downpipes. All I know is that when our next door neighbours changed gutters and downpipes from iron to plastic, they ended up with rather a lot of water running down the walls because the capacity of the modern replacements was inadequate in comparison with the originals.

But am perplexed as to why that would effect the windows and result in cracking. Damp yes, where water directly on walls, but cracking, not so sure.

pooka Sat 04-Oct-08 17:18:28

Also, the multi=level pond. If the house is built into the hill, and the pond level is higher than the house, then maybe the formed ponds are resulting in water getting onto the back walls (set against the hill) causing subsidence. Again am no expert. But I tend to worry about things that are new or changed because usually the original concept is preferable.

expatinscotland Sat 04-Oct-08 17:20:05

the downpipes are metal (original) but the gutters round the roof are plastic replacements.

and full of moss.

next door neighbour, whose house sits higher up, remarked, that south facing wall is always wet - and it is.

there is damp in here, no doubt.

but it appears to be worsening, particularly on the kitchen/north-facing side.

i'm started to think whatever damp proofing there's been in here has been breeched.

fishie Sat 04-Oct-08 17:22:43

are the red tiles replacements for slate? they are much heavier and we had to have our roof shored up - one of the lintels has broken and lets rain in when it comes very hard from the west.

expatinscotland Sat 04-Oct-08 17:23:39

the pond is higher than the house, yes, very much so.

its drain feeds into drains that run under the back of the house.

now i did think hmm at this because earlier this year that pond drain backed up.

a plumber came.

he said he felt roots and foliage when he cleared the external drains.

another neighbour said this happened to them, and it wound up with a collapsed drain system.

ditto my folks' house, who didn't let the problem get out of hand but basically my dad said you get that stuff growing under the ground and it forces the drains apart.

mankyscotslass Sat 04-Oct-08 17:24:00

I wonder if there has been some movement of earth due to the heavy ran recently? When you say built into a hill, is the garden terraced down to it? I'm not an expert so don't quote me on that though.

expatinscotland Sat 04-Oct-08 17:24:23

no, the tiles are all original.

he had to have a few replaced a couple of years ago after a bad storm.

expatinscotland Sat 04-Oct-08 17:27:27

yep, garden is terraced to the house.

the front door faces the loch, and then the pitch raises quite steeply to the back garden.

there are steps and a pathway to access the back, which has been planed down a bit to form a straight, flat bit about half hte size of a football pitch.

there is a patio of paving slabs from the back wall of the house to where these steps come down. it's a steep hill up to that flat part, though.

a very long driveway, for about 4 cars, that is all gravel.

expatinscotland Sat 04-Oct-08 17:28:52

next door neighbour to the south says there is peat bog on their property.

next door neighbour to the north says north facing wall of htis house has always had damp.

expatinscotland Sun 05-Oct-08 15:44:26

thanks, all!

i'm off outside to have a look at the cracks myself.

hmmm.

i have to say, we're glad we rented this place.

it put us off period properties for life!

UnfortunatelyMe Sun 05-Oct-08 15:56:49

I dont know about the cracks, but you need ventilation (windows open) to keep the damp at bay, and wipe with a bleach and water solution.

expatinscotland Sun 05-Oct-08 16:26:15

windows are opened every day, even if it's freezing cold, because it's also good for keeping dust mites at bay.

there's always water in the casements in the morning between the window and the secondary glazing, which i wipe with a towel, so no mould.

i also wash the inside of the windows once a month with liquid soap nuts.

i used a dehumifier in the middle bedroom, and its tank filled up 3x/day.

so methinks they need to invest in a damproofing course.

but i only communicate with the landlord's wife - the house is not in her name, it's to be passed to his daughter from his first marriage upon his death - so i don't know if she is letting him know what is happening.

Twiglett Sun 05-Oct-08 16:30:12

sounds like subsidence to me .. are they cracks you could fit a coin into sideways? the landlord will need to get them looked at

expatinscotland Sun 05-Oct-08 16:33:44

DH is going to check. he thinks the one at the back of the house, in the old coal shed that's now the utility room, might be able to take a coin.

that's where all that water pools up on the ground round the paving stone patio and pond.

i don't know what she's thinking not telling him about the gutters for ages and such, i guess because it's not her asset.

i think i'll mention it to the next door neighbour and see if he can try passing it on.

Mercy Sun 05-Oct-08 16:40:35

Sounds like subsidence, we have loads of cracks too - the soil here apparently causes this.

Don't understand about the damp though tbh. Landlord needs a surveyor to have a look.

It sounds like an amazing location - it's a reall shame that the house has all those problems. YOu'd think the owner would want to look after it properly.

expatinscotland Sun 05-Oct-08 16:45:26

it is a lovely house.

and i do think he'd want to look after it properly, but she likes to spend money travelling, so i'm not sure why she doesn't communicate with him properly.

i told her about the gutters and the cracks. just like i did when the drains got blocked - and he sorted that right away and the lawnmower, too.

she lived here for 7 years before they left, and 5 of that she was on her own during the week because he worked away, but did not a single bit of DIY in the place.

it would have driven me crazy, tbh.

i'd have been ripping things out left right and centre.

but he has made any improvements on the place himself.

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