Our client for this project, had recently witnessed their neighbours identical chimney stack collapse during high winds, causing considerable damage to the roof and other aspects of the property, but thankfully nobody was hurt during the incident. Understandably, our client was very concerned that their chimney was at risk of suffering the same fate, and sought professional advice immediately.
Our assessment from our site survey was that the tall chimney had developed a not insignificant lean out of plumb, and showed signs of weakened mortar, and general disrepair. whilst we could not declare the chimney to be without doubt unsafe, when considering the recent collapse of the neighbouring chimney, we concluded that it was inevitable that theirs would indeed suffer the same fate at some point in the indeterminate future.
Once awarded the contract, we discussed with the client their options on varying degrees of repair, and complete rebuild, the likely lifespan of any repair when compared to rebuilding, and the contrasting estimated costs of rebuild and repair. As the contractor, in these situations, we feel it is very important to give the client all their options, and whilst we may give our professional opinion on the best course of action, never imply that choosing any other course of action would be wrong.
We will never employ pressure tactics of any kind, and after presenting every feasible option, we encourage our clients to take some time to discuss their options privately, and contact us when they have reached a decision. Our obligation to you as your contractor, is to firstly listen to you, ask the relevant questions to determine your needs, key requirements and expectations, advise you on the practicalities and likely costs of what you're looking for, and use our experience in and knowledge of the construction trade, to come up our own alternative suggestions based on your original mandate.
The loose section of the chimney is removed,
Tall chimney is taken down, taking care to reclaim the bricks, and rebuild from roof level through 2 scaffold lifts
The tall chimney is completed, with only using the original bricks. the top of chimney differs from the originnal cast concrete. it is instead finished with slate helping the pots to sit on the edges. a strong mortar mix is used to haunch up around the pots to keep them in place.
The scaffold you see here was then removed a few days later.
The repointing is carried our professionally, adequately chased out joints, brush away and dust and debris in the joints, wetting down the joints to prevent the mortar drying too quickly and cracking, and to aid adhesion. It is also important to mix the mortar at the correct ratio to ensure longevity. in this case we used to lime render to match the existing masonry, mixed at one part lime and 2.5 parts sand.
A section of the original capping had cracked, causing the masonry to slowly crack and spread. This was removed, and replaced with a new section of in situ cast concrete, anchored to the original with rebar.
An interesting project, we don't get many tall chimney rebuilds, had the odd repair, but not full rebuilds. Some hard graft taking down, in particular the cleaning off of mortar was rather time consuming, but the finished construction was well worth it, even if nobody will give it a second glance once the scaffold was removed. that is maybe why many chimney stacks and other not often checked masonry, just as wooden fascia are often left to rot away when they are not painted. we mostly concentrate on expanding the home improving the interior, and often ignore the existing external structure.
Maybe this article will give home owners a gentle nudge. We aren't all lucky enough to have a 4 metre high chimney fall on us to remind us about home maintenance, so please keep an eye on the exterior of your property from time to time, It will save you a lot of money, and avoid rebuilding costs if you carry out regular maintenance work, and repairs as soon as possible.