Older properties often suffer from some structural issues, some serious and some are just a matter of an ongoing schedule of maintenance. Older buildings are often designed for a way of use or living that is less suited to modern needs and can benefit and become far more useable once structural alterations have been carried out. You will need to inform the local building control department of your local authority before you carry out any structural alterations. They will require calculations from a structural engineer to prove that the building works and alterations will confirm to part “A” of the UK building regulations this covers the structural element of the UK building regulations. If you are carrying out structural repairs it will be less lightly that you will require the involvement of a building control officer but it is always best to check. It is also important that you chose a competent builder to carry out the works. It is best to use a building contractor who has a good understanding of the repair techniques and specialists materials used in structural building repairs. This only comes from experience so select a builder who is used to carrying out structural repairs. The most common structural alteration is the removal of load bearing walls and the insertion of a steel beam or RSJ. Again these will need to be specified and calculations completed to make sure you have a beam strong enough to stand up to the loads placed upon it. A structural engineer will take into account the loadings and weight transferred down from the roof structure and any issues like point loading. Point loading is when there is an area of the new steel beam or RSJ that will be placed under a greater load at one particular point. This is usually when another structural member like a roof support or joists are transferring loads down onto the new beam. So make sure you do not suffer from an inexperienced contractor who is looking to either completed the job quickly or undercut his competition by taking short cuts or avoiding the involvement of a structural engineer or building control officer.
Many properties both old and new have solid concrete floor slabs, these have both advantages and disadvantages over suspended timber floors. The main disadvantage with older concrete floors is that they can be prone to cracking and can sink or rise up if the substrate the soil or other matter below them has been either disturbed by things like tree roots or defecting water pipes and drains or have simply been constructed badly or damaged from some form of structural damage. The other disadvantage is that older floor slabs often lack both a DPM or damp proof membrane or any insulation and can act as a cold sink drawing heat from the property. It is also more of an issue if you need to retro fit pipe work or cables if you move or add items like sockets and radiators. Often these issues are raised by surveyors when a property is sold or remortgaged and they usually recommend that a structural engineer be commissioned to write a report on the possible causes and recommendations for the removal and remedial repairs to the floor slabs. It is usually recommended that the defective floor slab be replaced and a new DPM and insulation be installed. This will automatically trigger the need for a building notice and the works to be inspected at various stages by the local authority building inspector. Your building contractor should be able to take care of this for you but you should check to make sure they have the paperwork in place and the inspections booked at the appropriate time.