Author Topic: Air bricks  (Read 14927 times)

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Catherine55

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Air bricks
« on: August 28, 2014, 05:46:10 pm »
I have a bit of  a problem with airbricks.  I didn't think I had any in my new timber-framed house, but after a bit of digging I found them all buried under the finished garden level not visible at all. I called the builder who sent their groundsman who dug down (approx 8 inches) under gravel and mud and left huge gaping holes and said that that's fine now!!

I complained to the developer who has written to me saying it's total acceptable in their eyes for air-bricks to be underground and covered up.... This I cannot quite believe as all of the other houses air bricks are all visible above ground level.

I am now expected to put up with large holes around 6-10 inches deep and 8 inches wide with gravel and mud pushed to the side and underground cables now exposed. They then told me that the orange plastic air bricks amazingly are s-shaped and this was all planned. I have searched high and low and cannot find s shaped orange plastic rectangle airbricks anywhere. They are the bog-standard rectangle ones.  

It looks absolutely terrible and is now a safety issue with my young son.

Is this normal?


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Re: Air bricks
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2014, 09:16:13 am »
No it most certainly not normal to bury vents!
I don't know what is worse, the fact that your air bricks are buried below finished ground level or that your house builder has put it in writing to you that this is perfectly acceptable!
Could you send me an e mail contact with a copy of their letter attached?  I will not publish your name and address. 

Whilst the plastic part of the air brick that you can see is rectangular, they are normally fitted in a periscope ducting so that air from above ground can be channelled to ventilate the ground floor suspended floor void, which can be below the finished ground level.
Provision of air bricks at 2 metre centres is an NHBC Standards requirement (5.2 - S3).

Surely it must have occurred to someone that air bricks can not ventilate any air if they are buried?  Even worse, they are more likely to enable rainwater to get into your home under the floor possibly causing damp inside your home in the worst case.  The situation you have now is that the excavated air bricks are at the bottom of a "hopper" meaning rainwater will drain off the ground down under your floor.

This really must be addressed. 
If as seems likely the builder is not going to do anything, write to the NHBC or your warranty provider.
This should be a concern to them especially as the home is timber frame construction as it is even more important that the cavities are also ventilated to let the frame dry out and help stop it rotting.

There are too possible reasons:
1) The finished ground level is too high.
2) The air bricks have been put in too low. This could also mean that your damp proof course (DPC) is not (at least) 150mm above finished ground level as it is required to be, which is also serious, more so with timber frame!

It would appear the only solution would be to excavate the ground levels adjoining your house and re lay paving to the correct levels.  Your landscaping would probably also need to be re modelled. Note that if ground levels adjacent to your house are lower than the surrounding ground levels, you will need also need some form of drainage (gulley or channel) to prevent the paths flooding.

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Catherine55

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Re: Air bricks
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2014, 11:56:55 am »
Here are the developers replies.
All they have done is dig the holes to expose the airbricks, they will do no more.
I'm expected to live with holes that my son can easily fall into whilst playing, leaf traps, exposed cables and unsightly.
I paid £325,000 for the house. The drain by the front door now drains into the vent. There are approx 8-10 of them now exposed.

Here are the two replies I received from Linden Homes regarding this.....

Quote
Fred Champion Groundworks have advised that the air vents are in the correct position and do the job that they are required to do.  The level of the path is in line with the plans provided by Linden Homes and is also in a position that poses no problems. It is not necessary that the air vents are above ground level as they do not go into the house, but they go into the ground, below the property.  I have been advised that the vent is an "s" shape and bends down lower behind the wall.

Quote
"In reference to your further concerns regarding the path level and air-vents, I have spoken to the Building Manager, who has assured me the following:
The property has been constructed in accordance with NHBC regulations.  Every stage of the construction has been inspected by the NHBC and the property has been signed off their area inspector.
The vents in question are to ventilate the air space beneath the property, the ground floor is of beam and block construction and is suspended and fully damp proof, therefore any moisture that naturally occurs in the ground, cannot penetrate your property.

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Re: Air bricks
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2014, 07:34:08 am »
As far as I can see some people at Linden should be sacked for this.
It is as I thought, the DPC looks level with finished ground level.
This means that the sole plate of your timber frame is at risk of rotting and you could end up with water and damp inside your home.
The exposed cables are another matter too.  Cables should be at least 300mm below ground as they may be reached by a garden fork or spade.

The front door grate should have a stop end and be connected to the storm water drainage too.

As I suggested, write to the NHBC and enclose/attach your photos.
Ask them how your home passed its final inspection when both NHBC Standards and  Building Regulations have not been met?
They will have to force  Linden Homes to act on this.
Copy your letter to Linden's main board managing director Andrew Richards too he needs to know what is going on!  
Andrew.Richards@lindenhomes.co.uk

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NHBC

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Re: Air bricks
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2014, 11:28:02 am »
Hi Catherine,

We are sorry to hear you have experienced problems with your new home. We would like to look into this for, please can you email info@nhbc.co.uk with the details and we will contact you.

Many thanks,

Catherine55

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Re: Air bricks
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2014, 06:37:00 pm »
I logged it with NHBC last week but the delightful developer (Linden Homes) informed them on Monday that we were not in dispute!! I even have signed paperwork to say I wasn't happy with the above.  I told them (NHBC) otherwise, considering it was me who raised the complaint and I received another email from the developer today contradicting itself and I fear again the NHBC has been informed that we are not in dispute....

I will call them tomorrow to check that the complaint hasn't been closed yet again. They want me to meet with a site manager but I'm not keen without NHBC being there as the individual has lied to me before.


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Re: Air bricks
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2014, 10:13:37 am »
Given what Linden Homes have already said to you, there is no point at all in meeting with anyone from Linden Homes, especially the site manager who does not appear to understand what air bricks are for and supervise the building works on his site, so they are, at the very least, not buried!

Refuse any meeting with Linden and insist on the NHBC inspector meeting you.
Be aware, there is nothing to stop the NHBC inspector meeting the site manager/Linden outside your house without your knowledge and discussing this between them though!
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Catherine55

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Re: Air bricks
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2014, 07:38:25 pm »
For the third time I've had Linden's customer services lady saying there seems to be some confusion about the NHBC being involved and wants me to meet with the site manager this week with a NHBC man who they will bring.
I've refused as have my own NHBC date but now I'm worried they have cancelled him again.
I'm starting to feel bullied as I now want to wait until the NHBC man who I have booked comes but they know I'm in on Thursday as having a new toilet cistern fitted.
Also had a horrendous water bill for the first three weeks.
Linden are now saying my meter read 0000 when I moved in!!
Considering the garden was full of water sprinklers attached to the outside taps  on the day before etc.
Sadly I know it read a lot more but I can't prove it as the meter is about four foot down.
The site manager took a photo as he is tall  which I bet they can't find.
I'm only small so he said he would take it so as no arguments.
Now they saying it's 0000 which is ridiculous. I have asked for his photo but doubt that will be forthcoming.

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Re: Air bricks
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2014, 06:20:10 am »
Firstly, e mail Kim Carter at the NHBC KCarter@nhbc.co.uk and tell her your concerns.
Inform her that whatever Linden are telling them, you are not satisfied and the matter will not be resolved without an independent NHBC inspector meeting with you and seeing the situation first hand.
My guess is Linden (and possibly the NHBC inspector for the site are trying to get their stories straight to protect themselves from further embarrassment.
As you can see, even the NHBC have joined this thread and say they want to look into this.

As for the water meter reading, you should have checked this on the day you moved in.  If you couldn't see the meter number yourself you should have had someone else independently check the reading and  confirm it.
That said Linden appear again to be telling you lies.
Unless the meter was installed on the actually day you moved in and the water stopcock in your home turned off, the reading could never have been 0000.  Some water was bound to have been used!
As you say, sprinklers were running from your outside tap and this would have given a reading.
If Linden don't or cannot produce the meter reading photograph they should pay your water bill.
Be sure that you check the meter number in the photo is your specific meter.  If you cannot see the meter number as shown on your water bill then the photo is not evidence.

Have you contacted Linden's main board managing director yet?
Andrew.Richards@lindenhomes.co.uk

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Catherine55

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Re: Air bricks
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2014, 04:41:53 pm »
I'm copying him into every email I'm sending.
They keep calling but I want it all in writing. They are desperate to meet up before my NHBC meeting but I'm refusing, partly due to work commitments but as I'm on my own I worry they will make promises or try to persuade me everything's OK.
I have asked for the fence to be put right before the NHBC visit but don't think they will as they know how desperate I am as my new puppy arrives shortly. The panels in parts are put up 1.5 ft approx from the ground level so there's a huge gap underneath.

Thank you so much with your help!


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Re: Air bricks
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2014, 06:01:05 am »
Be careful you are not outnumbered when Linden Homes come calling, especially if they try to be present when your NHBC inspector is due. 
It is sadly an old trick house builder's use to overwhelm their buyers - a sort of safety in numbers (for them). 
They then all talk amongst themselves with the buyer outnumbered and excluded and not knowing what is going on.
Try to get someone to be there with you, even a neighbour as a witness.
Audio record the conversation(s) on your mobile phone - you may need to prove what was said.
Remember, it would appear you are dealing with liars so get it on record!

As for your fence, if it has a gap of 450mm under it, it is not really a fence!
I am always amazed by the rubbish that house builders expect their buyers to accept and annoyed when the same builders go on about quality and customer care.
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Fight Linden Homes

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Re: Air bricks
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2014, 12:28:45 am »
Similar problems with a Linden Home in Cornwall.  Not just mine, but others in the estate.  Defects through the whole house.  Many neighbours trying to sell their new homes here, some of whom have spent thousands to pay other builders to rectify Linden Homes pathetic work.