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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:12 pm 
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A house that we’re looking at buying is a Victorian end of terrace house, but it turns out the entire semi-detached wall is single skin/half brick thickness (i.e. 4.5”). It’s the standard two storey with a pitched roof in height (approximately 7.5m), and the loft has also been converted into a living space. On the plus side the front and back walls are the more common full brick width (9").

The surveyor highlighted the wall issue, although he probably came across as more ‘disappointed‘ than very concerned. The house is pretty old (c.130+ years), and we don’t believe that any specific structural problems with the single skin wall have been found (just had a preliminary chat, and am still awaiting the full report). He says the rest of the house was built to a good quality for the time, so for the end terrace wall to be single skin was unnecessary really (I think it was a case of more terraces were originally planned, but they changed to semis from that point on). In recent years money has also been spent on the house by the previous owners, so it’s not like there are a host of other issues that put us off.

However, should something ever need to be done - we wouldn’t own the land at the side of the terrace (so external widening is not an option), and internal widening would impact front door/stairs/ room alignment etc. (i.e. not convenient!).

Obviously thermal performance is never going to be ideal, but what are people’s thoughts with regards to structural integrity looking forward? A case of “something would have happened already if it was going to”, or is that optimistic? Basically, we want to make sure we are not unnecessarily worried about something that’s not a huge issue. But, at the same time, we don’t want to ignore what could be an obvious big problem for further down the line.

Any experienced advice would be greatly appreciated.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:19 am 
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On the grounds of thermal efficiency I'd be walking away. Irrespective of the implications of structural integrity, which might never be an issue, you'll never be able to retain heat in a building with a single skin wall.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2018 4:00 am 
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http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/home-insulation/solid-wall

There are ways of adding insulation to the OUTSIDE of a wall that only add a couple of inches to the size of the building, DIYR. On the link you have to open the 'Exterior Walls' v tab.

You could also dry-line the interior walls, though this will make the rooms a tiny bit smaller.

BTW, :welcomeuhm:


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2018 7:21 pm 
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Thanks for the advice so far - looks like there may be some thermal improvement possibilities.

Almost all the properties in the area we’re looking at are Victorian, so I imagine the majority will be offer sub optimal thermal efficiency. However, it just happens that this one is an end terrace as opposed to the usual mid-terrace, and so rather than being a single skin party wall it’s going to be exposed the wind/rain/outside air.

It's unlikely any of the local houses are going to have cavity walls, but obviously we weren't anticipating the end terrace wall being so thin. Would a full brick width (9”) have made much difference from either a thermal or structural perspective?


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2018 8:35 pm 
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:welcomeuhm:

I am a bit lost here. Is the common/party wall (the one between two properties) single skin or is the outer, gable, wall single skin? Sorry if you have been accurate with your terminology, I am clueless.

A brick at 9" would never (famous last words) be used perpendicular to the building. And if if it was its thermal addition would be marginal in as much as you would have a thicker solid wall. The thermal improvement comes from an air gap between two vertical layers of a wall and which now get filled with foam.

Council buildings where I am, have had a layer of thermal insulation added externally (all round the exposed walls). That is a cladding which is finished off with some kind of cement/plaster/something mixture. Without knowing much, that layer of insulation could be 50+mm thick. Can you extend you house by that much at the gable wall end?

I am not an engineer (of any kind) but I would be more worried in the first instance of the ability of a single brick external wall to absorb movement and whatever pressures are put on it. After that, that the wall will be the coldest place where all steam in the house would like to condense.

If you are referring to the wall between two properties (which your original comment indicates), then you do have an air gap between your single brick wall and the single brick wall of the adjoining property. Only if we knew if the two walls are joined together and that would answer the structural integrity question.

Have I muddled the water sufficiently? :mrgreen:


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2018 11:37 pm 
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Sorry if I wasn’t clear. The house is at the end of a terrace, so effectively a semi-detached. However, both side walls are single skin (4”), i.e. the one we share with a neighbour and the end of terrace wall. The front and back walls are solid 9”.

I understand that single skin walls departing terraces are fairly common, even if not ideal. However, I believe that the semi-detached/end terrace wall being single skin is unusual – that’s the wall I’m most concerned about.

As far as cavities go, I don’t think there are any nor can they be easily created.



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