Handy Mac, aka Don Ma­cAl­is­ter, is our ex­pert on house­hold DIY is­sues

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - HOME -

JANE has a ceil­ing prob­lem,


Hi, my ceil­ing col­lapsed, so I had it re­placed. Can I claim on in­surance?


The rule of thumb re­gard­ing in­surance is that you con­tact the com­pany first be­fore you get the prob­lem fixed. The in­sur­ers might have their own pre­ferred ser­vice providers.

Jane came home from hol­i­day to find her ceil­ing on the floor of her study.

The col­lapsed ceil­ing was in an ex­ten­sion to the house, which is show­ing signs of sub­si­dence. The ex­ten­sion had been built be­fore

Jane bought the house.

So first, if you are buy­ing a home, check if al­ter­ations have been done. Are they on the ap­proved plan and have they been built prop­erly? Many of the queries com­ing into the col­umn re­late to badly built ex­ten­sions.

The way in which the ex­ten­sion is joined to the main house is vi­tal.

How­ever, I did not be­lieve that that was the cause of the ceil­ing col­lapse, so I dragged my bad back up a lad­der to have a look through the trap­door to in­ves­ti­gate the ceil­ing void. I did not go fur­ther as it was im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous that there was no un­der­lay un­der the roof tiles – it had dis­in­te­grated and what was left was ly­ing on parts of the ceil­ing that had not been re­placed.

As I have said be­fore, the un­der­lay is not there to pre­vent wa­ter ingress, but is there to stop wind uplift which hap­pens in the roof void if not sealed. In this case, the plas­tic un­der­lay had failed, prob­a­bly a cheap one was used and not in­stalled prop­erly. A strong wind then gets into the roof void, caus­ing an uplift on the ceil­ings which will lead to the col­lapse of the ceil­ing.

Other ar­eas of the ex­ten­sion are also show­ing signs of the ceil­ing start­ing to fail. I have asked Jane to mon­i­tor the ceil­ings when strong winds are blow­ing.

The moral of the story here is to in­ves­ti­gate prop­erly when buy­ing a prop­erty; don’t just look at what you can see, look and ask about things you can’t see, start­ing with the roof void. If you don’t have the knowl­edge, spend money on some­one who does – it could save you thou­sands in the long run. The com­pany HouseCheck comes to mind.

I en­cour­age ev­ery­one to use con­trac­tors who are reg­is­tered and com­pli­ant in terms of the law.

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