Bressumer Beam / Dry Rot

RossL posted on the 6/10/2013 7:31:09 PM

I found out recently that I have dry rot in the bressumer beam which runs across the living room in front of the bay window. Apparently this problem is quite common in tenement construction. As a minimum the beam itself will need to be replaced which sounds like a big job. Just wondering if anyone has any similar experiences of this type of thing and what the repair is likely to cost etc.?

#1 - SJM replied on the 8/10/2013 10:43:10 PM

We had the exact same problem in our flat last year. The cost will depend on the extent of the rot, but I'm afraid it's a very costly business. All in, we paid around £3500. It's a big project too - we had a team of three guys in for 4 full days and we couldn't use the front rooms during that time.

Sadly, we were (and remain) very let down by our co-owners, almost all of whom refused to pay their share of the repair costs. As a result we had to meet a shortfall of about £1700. Pretty sickening when we've spent the past 6 years topping up shortfalls for other repairs in the building. I hope your neighbours are more supportive than ours.

Good luck with the repair!

#2 - RossL replied on the 9/10/2013 8:45:54 PM

Thanks for the information. Can I ask was the £3,500 the full cost of the job, or was that your share plus the shortfall? i.e. was the overall cost of the job more than £3,500?

#3 - anon replied on the 9/10/2013 10:56:14 PM

SJM, if your co-owners were meant to pay for work as well (check this out by scrutinizing your title deeds) then you should be able to claim the money back from them (although if it's a legal route you have to go down it could be a hassle)  perhaps small claims court is an option?

#4 - (un)happybee replied on the 14/10/2013 3:03:50 PM

Hi Ross,

Can I ask how you realised that your beam needs replacing? Over the last few months I have a crack developing in my living room ceiling "cutting off" my bay window area.

Just wondered whether your problem started showing in a similar way?

When I contacted the factors they suggested to get a chartered surveyor out but that costs apparently £400 and I don't have that much cash spare at the moment- so I'm trying to find other ways of identifying what's happening to my ceiling...

#5 - RossL replied on the 15/10/2013 6:38:58 AM

Yes it started with a crack, although mine was in the inner cornice, but continued into the ceiling itself. There had always been some cracking (the bressumer beam is meant to move a bit so it is possible that some movement cracks will appear).

The cornice began to sag at either side of the crack. I went up ladders to try and see if the cornice could be pushed back into place so it could be repaired, and part of the cornice came away in my hand. Underneath which, part of the bressumer beam is actually visible. The timber is quite soft, and some bits turn to dust in my fingers when pressure applied.

There are a number of companies who will send a surveyor out, including Wiseman Property Care, Advanced Preservation, Richardson and Starling and Bromac. As noted above, it is meant to be a communal repair (it's part of the overall building structure) so best going through your factor if you have one. I'm having to get three quotes through the factor, so in total I'm having 4 surveyors coming out to look at it. As far as I am aware there is no charge to provide the quote.

#6 - (un)happybee replied on the 21/10/2013 12:18:03 PM

Thanks for your info, Ross!

#7 - RossL replied on the 22/10/2013 6:18:41 PM

Slight error - It's Wise Property Care not Wiseman

#8 - Jane Obrien replied on the 21/09/2015 5:23:27 PM

I've just found this old thread and it is exactly what I was looking for. I have a top-floor flat affected by dry rot in the bresummer beam under the floor at the bay window. The damage is also in the attic timbers. The downstairs neighbour has to give permission for repairs to go ahead as his ceiling will come down. I notified the factor three months ago and sent them three surveyor reports. They have done nothing in spite of repeated e-mails and phone calls. They have not notified any of the neighbours and say that it is between me and the downstairs owner to sort out between us. The total bill including attic is more than £20,000. The flat is now uninhabitable. Has anyone any experience of applying to the Homeowner Housing Panel?
Any comments welcome

#9 - Jane replied on the 7/11/2015 12:11:46 AM

Hi Jane O'Brien, I think you need to challenge your factor's claim that this is only the responsibility of you and your downstairs neighbour. We are in exactly this position in our close with dry rot in the top flat on one side of the close. However, it is the responsibility of all owners to fund the cost of the repairs for this, and other roof repairs. This is proving very challenging as not all owners are giving their consent and in the meantime, the condition of the building deteriorates. The council can give a grant so it is worth getting in touch to explore that. My own flat is not affected by the damage but I fully accept it is my responsibility to contribute to the repairs and maintenance of the building. The information you are getting from your factor is completely wrong and you must challenge that. Good luck!

#10 - howard replied on the 20/11/2015 1:26:45 PM

As has been said above this type of thing should be a communal repair. We had something similar a couple of years back and because it's beams and load bearing part of the building it counts as what's known as scheme property under the housing law. It's likely that the cause of the rot will be from something communal like the roof too. Ours was managed through the factor and took a while to organise, but wasn't as bad as the next building along where the rot had spread a lot further and caused quite a lot of hidden damage.

#11 - anon replied on the 4/01/2016 11:12:49 PM

Your deeds of condition will advise who is responsible for (communal) costs. If the deeds are silent, then it may revert to the tenement management scheme (or something like that) whereby each owner is responsible for the fabric that wraps round their property, so essentially from floor to ceiling, which means that you may be liable for the repair & costs. Check your deed, if you do not have you can purchase online and download from Registers Scotland.

#12 - James replied on the 28/04/2021 9:26:08 AM

Hi, I work for one of the companies mentioned above.
To repair a bressumer beam for dry rot is a substantial job if done correctly.
An engineer should be involved in the first instance.
It will include the beam and approx. 9-10 joists, all the deafening material replaced, the plaster/window panels will require to be stripped 1m up from the beam and 1m down from the beam, this will be the flat below. All exposed masonry should be treated with a biocide before the reinstatements are done.
If one of the companies done this for £3500 I would suggest they were going through a quiet period and lowered their price to get the work.
Normal cost is a minimum 5K+VAT and this does not include the reinstatement of any disturbed ornamental cornice. Hope this helps.

#13 - Sarah Jane replied on the 14/10/2021 3:18:52 PM

Hi, for those that have had this work done, how long did it take and was there any scaffolding required?

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