This month, the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show has revealed that hundreds of new properties have been built using weak mortar that does not meet recommended industry standards.
There are reports of homes with the fault on at least 13 estates in the UK and the issue with weak mortar has come to light just a few months after we highlighted the problems that were being caused by a nationwide brick shortage.
According to the BBC:
“The full extent of the industry-wide problem is hard to measure as some homeowners have been asked to sign gagging orders to claim compensation. The industry says mortar performance is a complex issue and can be affected by a number of factors.”
One of the affected homes was owned by Vincent Fascione, 70. He told the BBC that he was watching football on TV one evening in 2016 when he heard a loud cracking noise from the external walls of his house.
The next morning, he found a sand-like substance all over his front path and driveway. Photographs and video from the time appear to show growing cracks in the mortar holding his bricks together.
Mr Fascione, from Coatbridge outside Glasgow, bought his semi-detached property in 2012 for £112,500.
As reported by the BBC, under NHBC guidelines, mortar in most areas of the UK should be made of one part cement to 5.5 parts sand. In severe weather areas such as Coatbridge, there should be even more cement in the mix to make it stronger and more durable.
Following the BBC report, another pensioner spoke to the Daily Mail, sharing his fears that his new new-build home could crumble, leaving his children with ‘nothing to inherit’ due to issues with sub-standard concrete.
According to the newspaper:
“Gareth Cooper, 75, purchased the £1million home in Woodford Garden Village, Greater Manchester, in 2016 with wife Carole, 76, who suffers from Alzheimer’s and needs 24/7 care.”
“He bought the brand new property with the view to letting his two children, William and Sue, and four grandchildren inherit it in the future.”
“But after employing an independent builder to install a personnel door in the detached garage, bricks ‘just fell away and crumbled’, according to the pensioner.”
Some construction experts blame the switch to a new type of factory mixed mortar for the issues. An NHBC representative responded to the BBC report, saying: “We work with builders to help them improve the construction quality of the homes they build. However, it is the builder who is ultimately responsible for the quality of the new homes they build.”
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