I’ve mused previously that the chartered surveyor mentor learns as much from the mentee as vice versa, working with mentees helps the mentor evolve their approach to surveys and answering the mentee questions, stimulates thought on defects and possible cause. Every session with a mentee is a school day.
Recently, one of the Surveyors on the Gold Crest Step Up programme asked for my thoughts on dry rot. His family company had built a kitchen extension quite recently and had been called back because the timber floor had begun to collapse. Further investigation revealed the timbers were infested with dry rot.
The discussion refreshed my memory of a lecture on dry rot more than 30 years previously and specifically that dry rot spores can penetrate masonry. It transpired that the spores had penetrated through the masonry of the adjoining dwelling and infested the new timbers.
It sometimes seems quite incredible how often coincidences arise, the next property the very same mentee inspected with me was infested with dry rot. The worst infestation I had ever seen. Every floor of the three-storey property was affected. The extent of rot was so extensive, the property, given the extent of other defects to the property, seemed to me to be beyond salvage.
When reviewing the property infested with dry rot with a colleague, we assessed whether some cracks were indicative of potential drainage failure. My colleague suggested we recommend a specialist drainage inspection include rainwater gullies. A little over a week later I observed horizontal cracks between an extension and main dwelling. The property was vacant, and the vendor had helpfully left documentation relating to an insurance claim to remediate the cracks. The documents were dated 2009. A structural engineer had diagnosed the cracks as being caused by replacement of the original flat roof with a concrete tiled lean-to roof, and a leaking rainwater gulley. In this instance cracks had opened again, and distortion was observed internally indicating further remedial works are required to arrest on-going movement.
When undertaking a general review with the head of chartered surveying services, we were discussing different construction types. A colleague had recently undertaken a survey on what from the description was either a Passivhaus or an interpretation of a Passivhaus. The house had a green roof. The day before I had undertaken a survey of a property, which had a substantial outbuilding used as a community hub, which had a green roof. The buildings comparison to a Passivhaus ended there because it had direct electric heating and was the glazing was insufficient for meaningful solar collection.