Crisis averted as terraced flats rescued from defect disaster

When we were contacted by our latest Client, our team discovered how an undetected structural defect can cause severe complications in a building many decades down the line.

The Tyneside Developments team were called in to undertake emergency works on a four-storey terraced property on Portland Terrace in Jesmond when a stone mullion became loose and fell from the centre of one of the second-floor windows.

Following this worrying incident, our Client immediately instructed us to erect protective scaffolding across the front of the entire building, which is sub-divided into eight investment flats, and install internal props to the affected window, while we carried out investigative works to determine the cause of the problem.

Our engineers identified serious structural defects, which had been overlooked during the survey when our Client purchased the properties a few years previously.

They noted displacement of the stone and brickwork at all four bay windows, with stone mullions and jambs loose and able to be moved freely by hand, all stemming from a failure of each of the historic timber beams below the second floor windows, an inherent defect with 19th century properties of this type.

With the eight residential flats all occupied and heavy pedestrian footfall on the street, there was a potential danger to both the tenants and the public.

We worked with our Client to complete the rectification work as quickly as possible, phasing the works and coordinating closely with the managing agent to minimise the disruption to the occupational tenants.

Our team installed partition walls inside the affected flats, allowing the repair work to commence with minimum disturbance. We also worked with the local Environmental Health department to ensure that fire compartmentalisation was maintained within these licensed properties at all times.

The failed beams were removed and replaced prior to our team repairing the stone and brickwork and replacing the affected sash windows and bay window roof structures.

Our engineers assessed that the root cause of the problem was due to failures in the original design of the building, a common defect found in many other properties of this age and style.

Due to the nature of these kinds of issues, the full extent of the problem may not become apparent without an in-depth structural survey, meaning the problem can go unnoticed until disaster strikes.

However, there are some key warning signs to look out for if you own an older building. These include:

  • Loose brickwork
  • Mortar loss
  • Gaps between masonry
  • Significant cracking
  • Rotation, displacement or deterioration of the stone or brick
  • Signs of historic patch repairs

If your building is showing any of the above indicators, it might be time to get a structural survey to check for inherent defects and avoid any nasty surprises in the future. Get in touch with the Tyneside Developments team today to find out how we can help. You can email us at or call our office on 0191 315 3700.

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