Almost anyone with an opinion on finance will tell you that you are safest putting your money into ‘bricks and mortar’. But no one ever tells you that you should probably give those actual bricks a thorough inspection first, before you get your wallet out.
In Britain, we are still very much in love with our red brick houses and these buildings will usually be at a premium, especially in a street where other owners have added stone-cladding or pebble-dash to their home. You only have to look in an estate agent’s to see the uplift in price that brick can bring. In older houses, bricks will vary greatly by region and even by town, as bricks will have been made by hand on site (which could explain those old broken bricks you dig up when gardening), rather than shipped on pallets on the back of an enormous lorry. But, with this variation in styles and colours comes an inevitable variation in quality that buyers and owners should pay attention to.
This applies to new-builds too, where the quality and condition of bricks used may save the house builder a few hundred pounds per thousand bricks, but could wind up costing you in the long run.
You may think that something as simple as a brick is an infallible building block, but clay types, ‘bake’ and permeability are all factors that make one kind of brick more desirable than another. They are also factors that could mean that maintenance work is needed more often. When buying bricks for brick repair work or building extensions you should make sure that they comply with British Standards, with most regular clay bricks being categorised as BS EN 771–1.
In most cases, simply inspecting your brickwork regularly and ensuring that gutters are not leaking water down your walls will mean that you have no trouble with your bricks. But excess lime in brick composition, damage caused by frost or even pressure washing can cause bricks or mortar to crumble. Rising damp or poorly maintained window frames can also cause damage and can spoil the look of your house. One thing to be aware of is that minor or single brick damage can be the first step to more brick damage, as one damaged brick may mean water or frost damage to the next and so on. If you spot anything untoward then call out a bricklayer who has experience in brick repair and maintenance work.
A little pointing work may be simple for the experts, but it has the potential to be a DIY disaster in the wrong hands. The same can be said for simply painting over damaged brickwork with a water-resistant paint and hoping that a problem will go away. The chances are that it will not. In fact, painting brickwork can often cause more damage than it stops, drawing surface moisture deeper into the bricks. Paint is also notoriously hard to remove from brickwork, so you may be decreasing the value of your home or saving yourself up a major job for the future.
If your home’s brickwork has seen better days and needs a spot of TLC and brick repair or maintenance, post a job on Rated People in our Bricklayer category. Up to three tradesmen can then contact you to quote and you’ll be able to view their profile pages, complete with customer ratings, to help you decide who to hire.