Our new floors have started creaking loudly. What can we do?
Property Clinic: Word of mouth matters to builders, ask them back to address the defect
All buildings settle and dry out; creaks and cracks are common
In 2015, we finished adding a two-storey extension to our 1970s, detached house. The intermediate floors in the two-storey extension are made of plywood. My architect informed me that they are “OSB/PLY on 225mm floor joists C16s at 300c/c so they are in excess of the regulation requirements”.
Over the last 12 months, the floors are really creaking when we walk in particular areas upstairs. So much so that they wake our kids in the morning when we get out of bed and walk between rooms. The noise is now becoming a real annoyance.
I understand that there are solutions to fix the floors. However, I would like to know if the builder has any obligation to return to fix the floors, although it is almost three years since the extension was finished. If they have no obligation, then what is the best way to make a complaint about their poor service? The extension was built according to the current building standards and supervised by an architect and a structural engineer.
All buildings dry out and settle after construction. Creaks and cracks are very common. Initial drying out can take 12 months but settlement can continue for up to 10 years.
In times gone by builders would only provide a “builder’s coat” of paint. They were aware that cracks would soon appear and need to be filled before final painting. This was typically completed by the contractor after 12 months.
I note that you wisely engaged the services of an architect and engineer to help in the delivery of your project. No doubt your architect will have put a contract in place with the contractor. This contract will set out the responsibilities and liabilities of your contractor and will dictate if you are within your rights to request that he returns to remedy defects. Typically, responsibility will remain with a contractor for up to six years.
Oriented strand board (OSB) is widely used in flooring and as you say your architect has confirmed that the specification is as designed. The issue therefore is likely to be relatively straightforward to resolve.
I suggest that you engage directly with your design team to establish what remedies are available under the building contract. In my experience, most reputable builders are keen to ensure that their work is beyond reproach. Referral by word of mouth is vitally important in the industry.
You prudently instructed a design team when planning and delivering your project. You should now revert to them to plan a resolution to this frustrating defect.
Noel Larkin, is a chartered building surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie