Author Topic: Soft Mortar  (Read 2370 times)

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michaelmge

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Soft Mortar
« on: December 12, 2017, 02:32:07 pm »
Hi
This is my first ever post online for any reason and I am hoping somebody may have experience or knowledge of my concerns.
I have now been in my house for 18 months and noticed the mortar falling out where the flashing has been put into the brickwork. This is very unsightly but led me to look at the rest of the mortar.

I have found areas where the perps can be rubbed with the finger and the mortar is rubbing out. I realise that this may happen to start with but it is continuing and I have not got access to all the wall.

I am concerned that there may be more areas like this. The house is south west facing in a severe wind driven rain area. Could this lead to erosion of the effected mortar joints over a period of time or am I worrying about nothing.

The developer sent out their snagging brickworker who concluded that everything looks alright and as all the mortar came from the same silo there is not an issue. He did not test the soft areas himself and did not use a ladder but did finger test mortar that was not an issue.
Any enlightment would be greatly appreciated.


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Re: Soft Mortar
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2017, 05:47:05 am »
First of all it is quite common that the mortar pointing to a flashing can fall out over time and this is part of house maintenance.

Likewise some weather erosion on exposed elevations, but this is only after15 to 18 years not 18 months!

Soft mortar or to use the correct term weak-mix mortar is a growing problem across all housebuilders (who is yours?) and yet the main warranty provider the NHBC is doing nothing to address it.  The primary cause is cement replacement additive being used. Materials such as GGBS for example.   Eve the NHBC';s own "expert" concludes this is the probable reason for the growing incidence of failing  mortar in new homes over the last 8 year or so.

The issue is so bad and has serious structural implications for owners that today I set up a 'Campaign Against Weak Mix Mortar' Facebook Group to raise awareness of the issue and so people like you can share their experiences.   

I am afraid you are at the start of a long journey. You have already experienced the denial and reassurance.

Write to your housebuilder  and insist the mortar is tested at an independent laboratory!
When it has insufficient cement (it should be 1 cement to 5.5 sand) make a warranty claim.

You are not alone. Check out Twitter for "#weakmortar" or #weakmixmortar
New Home Blog - New Home Expert is committed to providing help and advice for people having issues with their new homes and difficulties with house builders as well as helping potential buyers reduce the risk of possible problems if they do buy.


michaelmge

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Re: Soft Mortar
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2017, 01:21:46 pm »
Thank you for your response, it is much appreciated.
The developer is Bloor Homes.
At 15.00 hours yesterday I messaged the customer service manager, customer service department and the regional director with my thoughts. As of this moment, there has been no acknowledgement from any of them.
Their response at times is extremely slow (I raised this as an issue in August) almost as if they hope you will just give up. Today they are carrying out remedial work to the dpc levels that I had to go through the warranty to achieve anything.

I will update you as things proceed. Again many thanks for your help.

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Re: Soft Mortar
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2017, 07:20:24 am »
I find through this forum and helping people that Bloor homes are pretty useless when it comes to sorting out defects after the site staff have left the site.  Their deficiencies in customer care are at their offices and these staff really need to go on a course or two - unless it is Bloor company policy to be have like this to their unfortunate customers!

Not replying to e mails or returning telephone calls is a basic requirement. They are mots certainly breaching requirement 5.1 of the Consumer Code for Home Builders. You wont get much by way of compensation by claiming for this (£250 seems to be the going rate) but it shows the contempt Bloor have even for rules of their own Code which they signed up to abide by!

I look forward to your update and hope you get justice.
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michaelmge

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Re: Soft Mortar
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2018, 07:13:00 pm »
Just an update on my situation.on January 10th an independent company came to look at the mortar and concluded that the mortar needed to be analysed.

It would appear that Bloor let slip to the LABC warranty that there was an outstanding mortar issue as LABC phoned me and said they would chase them and can I now copy all communications to them.

On Tuesday 23rd January I was contacted to allow CPI Euromix to come and take samples. I was told that they would use an independent agency to test the mortar. Today the 25th of January they turned up with a member of the Bloor site team. He was only there to have a look and not to test.

He was unable to give me any information about the mortar, despite Bloor telling me he would know, as I had requested this on 20th December. Despite what Bloor told me CPI use their own laboratory. So today is another low in my saga. This is now over 5 months old and as I have said in an email to them that they do not even achieve their own customer service standard. More to follow

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Re: Soft Mortar
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2018, 09:42:53 am »
All pre mixed dry mortar suppliers do their own testing.  This in itself makes the results highly suspect.
You can and should get your own independent testing done.
Try QED 01923 682682 www.qedtesting.co.uk

On a positive note CPI tell me they don't use cement replacement additives sucg=h as GGBS which I believe is the cause of weak mortar.

Stuart from CPI told me:
Quote
"We do not use GGBS in our mortars, they are a blend of sand, cement and chemical admixtures to aid workability, air entrainment and water retention.
Colour pigments are also added when the client is looking for a coloured mortar."


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michaelmge

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Re: Soft Mortar
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2018, 07:16:34 pm »
Further update.
Expecting CPI Tuesday 13 February 2018 to take sample.
On Monday 12/2/18 this was cancelled due to them not believing they can resolve my issues and my unreasonableness at previous meeting, whatever that means.

Bloor Homes have told me to do my own sampling despite them saying they would carry out the findings of the independent company, who told them the mortar needed to be analysed.

I asked for the mortar classification on Friday and they sent me the comformity certificate by email. Monday morning I asked Bloor to ask CPI if the certificate covered 2015/2016 when the house was built, as the certificate they sent on Friday was dated 9/2/18.

The response I got this afternoon was we are not coming.
I know the mortar is Class 3/M4 and have asked warranty to comment on what mortar they would have expected to be used in my area.
Anyway regardless, I still have weak mortar as witnessed by their site member.
Emails have gone back to there customer service, Bloor's head office and Graftons (CPI) CEO.


Bri

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Re: Soft Mortar
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2018, 09:14:59 am »
Bloor Homes customer care will not admit anything or advise you of anything. They are their first line of defence to wear you down. Once you realise you're not getting anywhere, escalate the complaint, get LABC involved and write to your MP.

I'm having lots of problems with them. I'll be updating my own thread with a list of problems and faults I've had plus pictures and videos.

Also, their sales staff are lying bar stewards.

michaelmge

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Re: Soft Mortar
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2018, 07:49:17 pm »
Thanks for that Bri.
I have tried involving local councillor,LABC and MP but they have all washed their hands and are not getting involved.
What frustrates me is the LABC(Local Authority Building Control) who are the only people with the powers to control breaches of building regulations and all they say is that as soon as they sign the completion certificate they no longer have the powers to hold developers to account.
I have already escalated to warranty but I am persistent and am in for the long haul.

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Re: Soft Mortar
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2018, 10:37:29 am »
Just so you know, LABC has nothing whatsoever to do with a local authority approving plans and inspecting works for building regulation compliance.

They are a new home warranty provider that can and do carry out building regulation inspections, but not on behalf of the local council.

MD Insurance Services are scheme administrators for both LABC and Premier Guarantee warrantees, are also the Secretariat for the Consumer Code for Home Builders. MD Insurance Services employ 'Risk Management Surveyors' "work within both brands of the company"

For the record in my opinion, LABC and Premier Guarantee are not as good for homebuyers as NHBC warranty, as you are finding out.
That is not to say the NHBC are good though!
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Bri

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Re: Soft Mortar
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2018, 09:56:57 pm »
Hi Michael
Did you have any luck with LABC warranty?

They came out to inspect my faults, I received the report back confirming they need repairing and now awaiting Bloor homes to contact me.

I reported I heard a tile slip off my roof over 3 months ago, still no one been out, Bloor were suppose to clean the marks off my render left by scaffolding over 4 months ago, still waiting. Had floorboards repaired for speaking, they are squeaking more now, still waiting for painter to come back from 6 weeks ago.   


Bri

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Re: Soft Mortar
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2018, 10:05:57 pm »
A few of my issues, water not draining from roof, staining from parapit everytime it rains and decking and paving higher than DPC causing damp and green staining to climb up the render.

michaelmge

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Re: Soft Mortar
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2018, 11:22:16 pm »
Hi Bri
Your problems are the same as on this estate, unless of course we are on the same estate in Somerset. Sandberg came on Thursday and took samples, so hope to hear just after Easter. I would expect them to report a class iii m4 mortar but my complaint to warranty is that being in Somerset the classification should be ii. M6 as stated in their technical manual.

So I am pressing them for an answer now as Bloor have supplied them with the data on silo mixes etc for when my house was built. They have now told me they are going to wait for the results by Sandberg but really they are irrelevant as if they have used the wrong mix that would explain why I have the problem. Of course the other problem for warranty would be that the comformity certificate I was emailed was for the estate not just my property.

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Re: Soft Mortar
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2018, 08:09:02 am »
The dry mix mortars used in Silos are tested regularly (or so the manufacturer's claim) so it should be possible to see the test results for the mix for the week that the silo was filled on site that was used to build your house superstructure.

Obviously the manufacturer isn't going to give your results that prove their mortar was weak, and the housebuilder may not want to or even know exactly which 2 week period your home brickwork was built either.  Site testing, taking mortar away from your actual home and checking the cement content would prove it has insufficient cement, but not crucially (and they will use this excuse) that is it not under strength.


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michaelmge

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Re: Soft Mortar
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2018, 08:29:14 pm »
I should have known that was coming.
Mortar tested and shown to be designation iv/v. Ah but wait, this is a designed mortar done on compressive strength so is actually M4 designation iii.

Long lengthy report after they went back to the testing laboratory and CPI. Looks like parts are from a website. Now I have been told that there is no issue with the mortar despite being told by an independent that there was an issue and the assistant site manager witnessing the problems.

Now will LABC back me as their technical manual states that in severe wind driven rain areas that mortar should be M6 designation ii as does all sites I have checked. When CPI came at the end of January a comment was made that it was probably 1:5:6 mix but probably realised that  would be wrong for the zone and went on to say that cannot be sure how the mortar was handled on site and of course if Bloor have ordered the wrong mix.

So I have a lot of questions going back to Bloor. As yet I have not asked the neighbours but I think the time is coming to put this on the estates Facebook page.