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To repair or to repair?

To repair or to repair?

A story from The Scotsman has caught your blogger’s eye this week, seeing that the tale which unfolds within the newspaper could very well be my own in the near future; and has real resonance with the repair services offered by Plastic Surgeon.

It concerns the level of damage that has happened to an existing tenement building from a neighbouring development, where disturbance to the foundations has caused cracks in the building’s envelope. Although these cracks look ghastly and quite terrifying to the tenants, the situation is this: do they indicate serious structural damage, or do they require Plastic Surgeon to drop in to undertake a little work?

Thus bringing about the conundrum: “to repair or to repair?” A small word with so very many connotations …

The Scotsman reported that work at the Leith site has been halted until developers are satisfied “there will be no risk of any further movement”. But that fact has done little to pacify Joanna Watson, who is among residents in the Great Junction Street block who have been affected by the construction work being carried out on the neighbouring gap site.

A seven-foot crack has appeared on her bedroom wall, while a small crack on the kitchen wall had doubled in size since she left the flat on Sunday. A number of large fissures can also be seen on the outside walls and in the communal stairway.

The ‘repair’ in this instance could be drastic, with foundations needing to be stabilized and the whole tenement block underpinned; scaffolding erected to repair and re-point walls and chimneys; new windows installed; internal walls and ceilings re-plastered and redecorated.

Intensive investigation from structural engineers would be the starting point. At worst, the residents would have to be evacuated if the building was deemed to be dangerous. Even complete demolition, ensuing court cases could follow. All very costly and disruptive to both residents and the contractor responsible for the damage.

But, hopefully, damage will be found to be non-structural, and the ‘repairs’ required will be cosmetic: the sort of work our highly trained Finishers undertake on a daily basis for clients around the country, including Scotland. We could fill, sand back and colour-match the affected areas to the internal fabric of the building. Meanwhile, outside, with the splits in the substrate infilled, it could be our Screedcoat system which is required to restore the appearance of the elevations.

Keith Anderson, chief executive at Port of Leith Housing Association, the client for the new-build project told The Scotsman: “We are assured that there is no immediate cause for concern, and are working with our contractor and engineer to address the situation and find solutions which ensure the satisfaction of Ms Watson and other residents and business users within the building.”

Well, your blogger’s home has its fair share of cracks, in several rooms, stemming from two centuries of settlement and alterations, and probably being aggravated by the piling work on a nearby development currently shaking us. All I can hope is that we will only need a little help from Plastic Surgeon when it’s over, rather than the far costlier and intrusive attention of major reconstruction.