Fix­ing a ce­ment slab that’s break­ing up re­quires more than a screed

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

I SPENT last week­end mak­ing two gar­den gates. I am very proud of my hand­i­work, as I am not great with my hands, but with a few sim­ple tools and a bit of thought I had a great time by at­tempt­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent. I ac­tu­ally did some­thing for me and can highly rec­om­mend the ex­pe­ri­ence to ev­ery­body. Tip of the week

If you’re look­ing for ways to save on your elec­tric­ity or gas bills in the cold weather, here’s some ad­vice.

As a semi-re­tired per­son learn­ing to count his pen­nies, I’ve re­alised it is cheaper to add a few lay­ers of cloth­ing than it is to switch on the heaters.

To en­sure that the bed is nice and warm, in­vite the dogs in for a lit­tle sleep-over, but not for the whole night as you don’t want to be fight­ing over blan­ket own­er­ship at 2am, but ev­ery lit­tle bit helps. Ques­tions and an­swers

I am get­ting more and more re­quests ask­ing for help when things have gone wrong with one’s con­trac­tor.

I am will­ing to help where I can, but I’ll need copies of the quo­ta­tions you ac­cepted and a copy of the con­tract you signed. As I have said, if you don’t start off with the cor­rect pa­per­work, then you are not go­ing to have a leg to stand on.

Liz wrote: “Last week’s col­umn was es­pe­cially re­ward­ing for me as I am in the mar­ket to pur­chase a prop­erty. Where do I source a ‘home in­spec­tor’? I am look­ing at a prop­erty in Fish Hoek and will feel a lot more re-as­sured if an in­spec­tion is done at my ex­pense.”

Con­tact John Gra­ham of House Check on 083 310 9766 or e-mail john@housecheck.co.za; he is a reg­u­lar cor­re­spon­dent of mine.

Gaye asks: “I was very in­ter­ested to read about the ap­pli­ca­tions for oc­cu­pancy and have a ques­tion: When it says the build­ing must com­ply with the ap­proved build­ing plans, what if some part of the build­ing does not com­ply? I re­fer to an ex­te­rior stair­case and land­ing which does not com­ply with the ap­proved plans as it was built in the in­cor­rect lo­ca­tion, and is part and par­cel of the build­ing.”

I can­not an­swer this my­self, but have for­warded the ques­tion to Cheryl at the City of Cape Town and will hope­fully have an an­swer for you by next week. Off the top of my head, I would guess that the an­swer will re­volve around how far out of po­si­tion it is, and whether it can still safely pro­vide the func­tion for which it was in­tended while com­ply­ing with the nec­es­sary reg­u­la­tions ap­ply­ing to emer­gency ex­its.

Eddy writes: “I have an old, and break­ing up, ce­ment slab on my stoep. I now wish to re-lay a ce­ment screed on top, af­ter I have chipped and pre­pared the sur­face. The area is 25m What is a gen­eral rule of thumb re­lat­ing to the amount of ce­ment and sand re­quired? Also, I am think­ing of a screed of ap­prox­i­mately 100mm – is that about right? The pedes­trian traf­fic over the com­pleted screed would be min­i­mal –just my wife and my­self and the odd vis­i­tor.”

My ini­tial ad­vice is not to lay a new screed on top of a slab that is al­ready break­ing up. Chip­ping the sur­face as you pro­pose is a good idea as a start, but if the slab is in poor con­di­tion, it is just go­ing to take the new screed with it as it con­tin­ues to sink and crack.

I would rec­om­mend that you get a struc­tural en­gi­neer to give an opin­ion as to whether the slab has reached the end of its life. If it is al­ready cracked, the chances are that wa­ter has seeped through and eroded the fill­ing un­derneath. It may then be cheaper to put down a new slab that could pos­si­bly be pow­er­floated to give an ac­cept­able fin­ish.

There are far too many rules of thumb about what mix is the best for what; I would sug­gest that you con­sult one of the ce­ment com­pa­nies’ web­sites, where they give all the rec­om­mended mixes for dif­fer­ent ap­pli­ca­tions.

It is not of­ten that a screed is laid thicker than 25mm to 35mm, un­less you are try­ing to cre­ate a spe­cific fall over a small area.

If you want a more traf­fi­ca­ble fin­ish, then I would sug­gest a grano screed – this is where small gran­ite chips are added into the mix to add strength and hard­ness, but to me 100mm shows a need for con­crete and

not a ce­ment screed. Com­pany of the week

I don’t of­ten praise in­di­vid­ual con­cerns but two com­pa­nies and the women re­spon­si­ble for send­ing out quo­ta­tions re­ally im­pressed me to­day.

I have been help­ing out my old com­pany with some ten­der­ing and sent out a doc­u­ment ask­ing for prices at 6am one day. I re­ceived my first re­ply at 11am for the ma­te­ri­als in­volved and the fol­low-up quote at noon. So a big bunch of roses to An­gel­ica at DBL pre­cast deck­ing sys­tems and Carmelita at Devco Deck­ing so­lu­tions.

Please keep your ques­tions or com­ments com­ing to don@ma­cal­is­ter.co.za or SMS only to 082 446 3859.

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