About Me:

Joe Malone, the author of this building defect analysis site, runs a Chartered Building Consultancy and is a CIOB Chartered Builder, a Chartered building engineer, a degree qualified building surveyor, a visiting guest lecturer at Coventry University and a published technical writer.  Our business, Malone Associates Ltd,  has a strong specialism in building defect analysis and building pathology  and as part of  our academic commitment, we maintain this blog to help further some advancement in our understanding of why buildings fail. 








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  • I have a house built in the 1970s. A gable wall is a cavity wall. The brick work above the window has been laid in a soldier fashion and we understand that those bricks were set in concrete and that concrete structure is bridged from the outer wall to the inner wall. Water has ingressed to the inner wall and has passed through the concrete structure. Is the ‘concrete structure’ a building defect or simply a method used in the 70s?

    • Joe Malone

      I don’t fully understand the question based on your description Matthew… Is this a non-traditional property built from poured in-situ or precast concrete? How do you know moisture has progressed to the inner wall because its not unusual for severe cold surface condensation to occur in these solid walled concrete properties?

  • James Stutchbury

    Hi Joe

    Would you happen to know what % of defects are actually “built in” to projects at the design stage?

    I am frequently told that by the time a project/housing development reaches site, the designers have made a certain amount of post-PC issues unavoidable. Would you know if there is any truth in this?

    • Joe Malone

      James, that question is almost impossible to answer. Yes, defects are frequently ‘designed in’ in my opinion but clearly the percentage has to be variable across projects. I am still of the opinion that the majority of defects encountered stems primarily from poor build quality and substitution to poorer quality materials, as part of the ‘value engineering’ process.

  • Hi Joe, Im a damp and timber surveyor/ builder who has 33 years experience dealing with damp issues in buildings. Until recently I was also of the opinion that original physical DPC,s don’t fail. After removing a sub floor with mine fungus, we removed the bitumen DPC from the sleeper wall which had let damp through to the Joists, We removed the black ash mortar joint from below joist level and found this to crumble when touched, this house had rising damp. I have taken samples to get analysed to see why this has happened.

    • Joe Malone

      Hi Dave,

      I’m assuming you’re now saying you believe physical DPC’s do fail? How do you know the DPC had let damp through to the joists? Did you take the subfloor humidity, and if so, what was it? Also, was the bitumen DPC damaged, or are you saying you believe that moisture had transferred through what appeared to be, a fully functional physical DPC?





  • Kaz Lester

    Hello Joe, do all parapet walls need an overhang at the top in the form of coping stone/engineering bricks to stop the wall becoming damp please? Mine simply has what the NHBC describe as a ‘cavity closer’. There is no overhang and the brickwork is spalling, mortar is crumbling and the wall is quite saturated. Apparently it’s not covered by the Buildmark Policy as NHBC say it’s not a structural wall. There are 2 issues with this: 1) The house is a relatively new design and I’m not convinced it can’t be classed as a structural wall and 2) I suspect the damage is due to a poor workmanship in the first instance. I was reading about parapet walls on your site and wondered what your thoughts/advice might be please?

    • Joe Malone

      Hi Kaz,

      Firstly, of course the parapet is a structural wall. It forms the outer skin of the building and is tied to the the structural inner leaf. We’re really playing with semantics here, the parapet section itself doesn’t directly support anything but the wall is structural.

      A picture would be useful to see exactly how this parapet has been detailed?

      Yes, the parapet capping or copings should have a minimum of 40mm overhang and a throating detail on the underside of that overhang. They should also be mechanically fixed to the head of the parapet, a requirement we often see missed.

      There should also be a physical DPC under the parapet copings, and this needs a hard support, which bridges the cavity to stop the DPC draping into the cavity.

      How old is the property because it sounds like you have a straightforward breach of contract by the developer.



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