If you are like many homeowners, you have probably wondered why some houses have no gutters to provide protection against stormwater. You may have wished your own home had none because of the cleaning and maintenance issues.
Gutters are not required by law on a sloping roof. Many modern homes have none, even in instances where they would benefit by having them. There are alternatives that architects sometimes prefer such as concrete paving around the perimeter of your house.
In order to decide for yourself whether rainwater gutters are necessary for your home, it is best to first learn what the building regulations require.
The Building Regulations do not require roof gutters and downpipes if another suitable means of drainage has been provided to remove or disperse rainwater from the roof away from your home.
However, the Building Regulations do require that any stormwater that flows from your roof or any area that is in the immediate vicinity of your home must not cause damage to theinterior of the building, its structure or its structural elements. The regulations require steps to be taken to ensure that stormwater does not accumulate in a way that“unduly inconveniences” you as the occupant of your home.
Furthermore, the system used must:
not undercut the foundations by erosion or flooding
drain stormwater away from your home
not allow stormwater to accumulate against or close to the external walls
make provision for the drainage of any areas on the property where water pools
Trees can cause major damage to your home, garden and boundary walls. This is especially true on the Witwatersrand where most areas and soils have some clay content. Without care and control, they may cost you a lot of money and no small amount of effort to fix.
Furthermore, shrubs should not be planted too close to the masonry walls either. The building regulations specify a minimum distance of 1,2 m for normal soils and 1,5 m if you have clayey soil.
Roots can also grow beneath your foundation and lift the house or they can leach water from the ground during dry spells and sink or settle the house unevenly.
They will cause the soil to dry out and, in the case of clay soils, to shrink.
Any subsequent watering or extended rain periods will cause the clay to swell. In this way, trees and large shrubs can cause movement on clay soils resulting in damage to your home and walls.
The amount of movement depends on the percentage of clay content, the depth and extent of the root system and the efficiency of the tree to extract moisture from the soil.
When underground sewer and water pipes develop small leaks, roots will quickly take advantage of those leaks. Before you realise it you have a blocked sewer line and pools of water and sewage in your yard.
What not to plant
All trees should be regarded as a potential source of damage. The following varieties are, however, particularly prone to causing damage:
Maintain your home, especially the roof, on an annual basis. If you don’t do the small repairs they could end up as expensive repairs.
Your roof is the most important component of your home, protecting you, your belongings and the structure of the building. Damage to the roof can occur due to rain, wind and hail. You should regularly check the roof of your home for any leaks. Also inspect the ceiling, walls and the area around your home for any water spots, standing water or mould. Dampness on ceilings or walls can mean that there are leaks that you will have to attend to.
Check the chimney
Loose flashings, damaged masonry and loose bricks will allow rainwater in a house. Be sure to give the area around the chimney an inspection to ensure everything is fine. Refit loose flashing or replaced as necessary. Furthermore, chisel out the damaged mortar joints and rejoint, and also repair loose bricks.
Loose, dislodged or broken roof tiles or ridge caps
If you have the ladder long enough, inspect the roof for loose or crumbling mortar along the ridge cap. At the same time, check for cracked or damaged roof tiles while you’re up there. However, if you do discover problems and can’t deal with it yourself, call in a professional roofing contractor.Continue reading “Winter Home Maintenance”
Buying a house – the most common defects to look for.
1) Rotted Wood
Continuous exposure to moisture causes wood to rot. Inspect wood in the kitchen and the bathroom: toilet seats, countertops, basin and sink units and flooring. Also check the exterior of the home: deck, eaves and verges.
2) Inadequate Ventilation
Without proper ventilation, moisture cannot evaporate. Over time this will become a problem. Furthermore, bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms can become havens for mould growth.
Proper ceiling space ventilation allows the sun’s heat to promote evaporation.
In addition, condensation on the underside of metal roofs, as well as under-tile membranes, can damage the roof structure and ceilings. A home inspection will identify stains and signs of dripping moisture in the ceiling space.
3) Improper Maintenance of Appliances
When buying a house it is important to establish if appliances and other equipment have been regularly maintained, e.g. regular cleaning of ovens, stovetops, filters in the air–conditioning units and in extraction hoods.
4) Amateur Repairs
Amateurish (non-professional) repairs are most commonly found in plumbing and the electrical system. These generally do not comply with building regulations and represent a real danger, and may cause further serious damage in future.
5) Poor Drainage
Inadequate drainage around the exterior of the home leads to water intrusion in basements, garages and above damp proofing. This can compromise the foundation of a home and create mould problems.
6) Failing Heating & Cooling Systems
A failing or ageing heating and cooling system will likely require costly maintenance. These systems can potentially also emit toxic carbon monoxide fumes. When buying a house it is important to remember that older systems are also considerably less efficient than modern ones. They cost more to run!
7) Environmental Hazards
Because of less stringent building regulations in the past, older homes may contain lead-based paint, high levels of carbon monoxide, toxic mould and asbestos. To identify such problems professional inspection and testing is required.
8) Faulty Geyser Installations
Geysers need to be inspected carefully, as dangerous installation are not visible. A geyser can potentially represent the biggest danger in the home, as they can explode if not correctly installed. A home inspection is imperative to identify problems in this area. More than 40% of the homes I have inspected had faulty geyser installations.
9) Plumbing Problems
Pipes under the sink made of incompatible materials can lead to dripping taps, leaking fixtures and slow drains. The seller should address all plumbing problems before you buy.
10) Electrical Safety Issues
Buying a house with dated and faulty electrical systems can cause breaker tripping or fire. Ungrounded plug outlets and faulty earth leakage circuit breakers are safety hazards and can result in injury, death and financial loss.
I have regularly found faulty wiring in electrical panels and other areas of the homes. In addition, I have found that that electrical Certificates of Compliance do not necessarily guarantee an absence of problems.
11) Controlling Water
Water intrusion can be one of the most destructive and expensive problems on a property. Therefore, check for well-maintained gutters, downpipes, and proper grading around the foundation to direct water away from the home.
However, it is worth getting to the bottom of what is causing the cracking. A crack is actually the visible symptom of a possible problem and not the problem in itself.
13) Roof Problems
Before buying a house inquire if there have been any roof leaks. Furthermore, insist that the seller guarantees that there are no roof leaks.
Roofing can contain old or damaged materials or improper flashing. Moreover, roofing problems can cause major and expensive problems for your home.
14) Storm Damage
Damage from storms, strong wind, tornadoes or flooding has long-term effects on a home. Therefore, thoroughly inspect the roofing, exterior walls and railings for wind and water damage before buying a house. Also, check for defective (post-storm) repairs. Inspect the internal walls and ceiling for water intrusion. This can potentially lead to mould, with its resulting health problems.
15) Damp and Mould
Surprisingly, most homeowners on the Highveld believe that it is too dry for mould to be a problem. This is a fallacy, especially in older homes.
Mould requires moisture and warmth to grow and is often found in damp, warm areas. Furthermore, it can enter a home through windows, vents, doorways and air-conditioning systems.
Mould can have serious health effects. They produce mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are the chemical toxins found on the surface of the mould spore which can be inhaled, touched or ingested. Moreover, mycotoxins can cause a suppression of the immune system and even cancer.
When buying a house, the most common places you may find mould is in the bathroom and kitchen, especially around leaking taps and under sinks. In addition, mould grows behind appliances such as the dishwasher, fridge and clothes dryer. If there are or have been roof leaks you may find mould in the roof space.
Furthermore, foliage growing against the house can cause mould to grow outside and inside the home. Mould can also be found in other areas where condensation and humidity are high.