9th August 2018

Sunshine and showers are not so good

Especially if you own a clay lump constructed property.

We are very lucky in Norfolk and Suffolk to have so many beautiful, historical buildings – everything from period cottages and farm buildings to large stately homes.

A common feature is the use of clay lump construction. Clay lump is a traditional form of construction, using materials with a high clay content, as well as sand, chalk and gravel. Construction using clay lumps in East Anglia can be dated back to around the early 1800’s.

Often, these buildings constructed from this method have been patched up over the years, using a number of short term solutions.

Over time, these short-term repairs can cause damage to appear in the form of cracking and bulging to rendering and brickwork, and even weakening to the overall structure. Cement render both inside and outside of a property is very common but can mask issues caused by temperature and moisture retention.

Clay lump, particularly, can react very differently to changes in temperature than say conventional or modern building methods. Clay tends to shrink when heated because the moisture content is reduced. The moisture content of a clay wall can alter its strength dramatically, which is why it is critical to address any issues immediately. Prolonged periods of moisture retention together with high temperatures, will invariably result in the wall’s gradual disintegration.

With the hot, dry weather we have been experiencing recently, the team at HA Consulting Engineers have received an increase in enquiries from concerned owners of properties built using clay lump construction methods.

Cracking or bulging render are both signs to look out for. The areas affected can sound hollow or render may even have fallen off.

All signs of damage to render require immediate attention to prevent serious long-term consequences and the continued preservation of our beautiful buildings.

Please contact the team at HA Consulting Engineers if you are at all concerned about your property. We will be more than happy to discuss your issues and advise you on the best course of action to take.