Certain basic criteria apply to the walls of a house, whatever its construction, and you should check that your walls meet these requirements.
For example, they should be straight both vertically and horizontally. Equally, there should not be any cracks or major deterioration of the building material from which the walls are made.
Make sure, too, that door and window openings are square. You can check this by measuring the diagonals. They will be equal if the frame is square.
Of course, with an old building you can expect the external masonry walls to be slightly out of true. But there should not be signs of recent movement, such as fresh cracks. If you are considering a particularly old building it is certainly worth getting it checked out by a fully qualified architect or engineer.
If you suspect a bulging wall, check first that it is not bowed. In the case of a bulge, this is normally where the wall is stuccoed and the surface is coming away. Tap the affected area to see if it sounds hollow and test the stucco over a wider area to ascertain the extent of the problem. Look also for cracks in the surface.
There is always the danger that rainwater will get behind the stucco, making the wall damp and the problem worse. The loose material should be chipped away and the wall re-plastered after being allowed to dry out. This is certainly a job for a specialist if a large area of repair is involved.
With outer walls, rotting wood is obviously only a problem where you have a wood-clad or wood-framed building. The rot-affected wood must be removed and replaced with new wood, treated with preservative. If the rot is extensive, it is probably advisable to get a specialist carpenter to make the repairs. You can at least put up some rubber mats to barrier off the dampness so it does not spread too much.
Whether natural wood, aluminum or plastic is used for siding, any missing sections should be replaced without delay or serious damp problems and rot (in wood) could occur.
The damage could be the result of storms or other severe weather conditions. More likely, however, it is due to general deterioration, such as corrosion of the fixing nails, caused by water penetration. So be prepared for the fact that even a small amount of damage could indicate major renovation work.
Fixing up siding is a task that a competent handyman could quite easily tackle. If, however, large areas are involved, it may be better to call in a specialist contractor.
Return to the home page of Mad Progress