Signs of sea salt could spell the end of our Span­ish dream

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Jonathon Wingfield

load-bear­ing and struc­tural el­e­ment within the prop­erty.

Here in the UK it is not un­usual for there to be some slight ex­pres­sion of salts that usu­ally prove to be quite harm­less.

Typ­i­cally a sul­phate re­sis­tant con­crete mix would be spec­i­fied if there are ac­tive chem­i­cals in the soil, or where the con­crete is to be ex­posed to salt water. How­ever, this is achieved through the in­tro­duc­tion of an ad­di­tive dur­ing the mix­ing stage and not by any ret­ro­spec­tive treat­ment. Whilst it is com­mon to use sea sand in the con­struc­tion in­dus­try it is al­ways washed thor­oughly be­fore­hand. Un­for­tu­nately reg­u­la­tions in other parts of Europe are not al­ways ad­hered to and I sus­pect that none of this hap­pened with your prospec­tive house when it was built 15 years ago.

Un­ques­tion­ably salt will weaken the con­crete and at­tack any steel re­in­force­ment within it un­less pre­cau­tions are taken dur­ing con­struc­tion. It is worth hav­ing a de­tailed look to see if there is any stain­ing or bulging cracks in the con­crete.

This is caused by the re­in­force­ment bars cor­rod­ing and, as it does so, ex­pand­ing. It lit­er­ally breaks up the con­crete from within. If this has started to hap­pen then there is very lit­tle that can be done and the build­ing is es­sen­tially doomed. I know of no post-con­struc­tion treat­ment and sus­pect the es­tate agent may at best be ill-in­formed. Whilst I haven’t seen the prop­erty, from your de­scrip­tion I sug­gest you think very care­fully be­fore pro­ceed­ing with the pur­chase.

Gen­er­ally, where pub­lic sew­ers are con­cerned water com­pa­nies refuse “ build-over” agree­ments. In fact, my ex­pe­ri­ence is that they tend to say “no” as a mat­ter of course. Then, when pressed, they con­sider the mat­ter, and may oc­ca­sion­ally come down on the side of prag­ma­tism, agree­ing to ei­ther to build­ing over or a di­ver­sion, at your ex­pense of course.

Should they ac­cept a buil­dover, then the foun­da­tions on your ex­ten­sion will have to be de­signed to avoid any bear­ing on the drains. This can be achieved by al­low­ing the pipe to pass be­neath lin­tels.

The man­hole cover would also have to be changed to a sealed type and a le­gal agree­ment signed al­low­ing them ac­cess for main­te­nance if and when needed. This is far from ideal.

As­sum­ing there is suf­fi­cient fall and the water board gives ap­proval it would be bet­ter to di­vert the sewer around the ex­ten­sion.

This is done by putting in a new sec­tion of sewer with manholes at each junc­tion or change of di­rec­tion, leav­ing the ob­so­lete sewer run­ning through the new con­struc­tion.

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