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HANDY MAC: Protect our workers

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Fatal crash draws attention to plight of construction industry labourers

For years I have been procrastinating about doing something about the garage, but after watching Mrs Mac clear out the rest of the house, I put my head down last weekend and got stuck in. The big joke is I had to get rid of only one piece of workshop furniture.

The problem was that I was not seeing the wood for the trees and had convinced myself there was never going to be enough room to fit everything in. Well, there was more than enough after all – the problem was everything was in the wrong place.

Now I am extremely happy, and Mrs Mac is smiling.

However, I could not have achieved the above without some assistance, which I think is also important when you plan any task. Ask for help if it is too big a task to do alone, or you will never get started.

I organised a company truck with a few willing workers that meant everything could be lifted and carried quickly and smoothly.

Now I am off to my workspace to start sorting out the drawers and plan a few projects.

Q and A

A leaking shower is unfortunately never an easy fix. Picture: Steven Ungermann

Ismail has a problem shower:

Q: I renovated my en-suite bathroom three years ago, with new porcelain tiles and mosaics in the shower. Everything still looks great. The problem is the adjacent bedroom wall is showing signs of rising damp and the cupboard has a strong musty smell. Looks like the tiles were not sealed. What can you advise?

A: Unfortunately, this is a common problem and can be caused by a number of issues. Tiles and grout will not necessarily be enough to waterproof a shower. The shower walls and floor should be waterproofed before the tiles are fixed.

This can be done by using a cementitious product such as Cemflex, manufactured by Sika. If the shower was not properly waterproofed, you will continually battle with damp in adjacent rooms. However, your problem may have other causes.

It could be the result of leaking pipes in the walls, although this is unlikely as you refer to rising damp, which means the problem is likely to be at ground level. Water could also be leaking down and only showing at the bottom, which could be the case if the taps have not been properly sealed.

Moving down to the shower base, it could be that the waste trap is leaking – this is a common problem – or there could be a leak at the floor and wall intersection.

None of the above have an easy fix and you are going to need to bring in a leak detection specialist. Modern technology has given us machines that can scan walls to see where the damp is coming from.

There is one relatively easy test you can try yourself if your shower has a raised base (walkin showers pose a whole set of different problems). First block the shower drain to ensure no water can escape, fill the shower base with a couple of centimetres of water, then put in a few drops of dye with an eye dropper.

If there is a crack you will see the dye moving towards it so you can try sealing it.

Feedback

No one wants to see the standards of building raised more than I do, but this must be done with proper training for our workforces, with the work monitored by qualified professionals such as architects and engineers.

But this would not put more money into the pockets of government for a service that already does not function efficiently. I’ve been answering questions about the “protector” of the building consumer, the National Home Builders Registration Council which, if the proposals in the Housing Consumer Protection Bill are enacted, will get even greater powers.

The council’s mandate is being extended to include not only new building projects, but also additions, alterations, renovations and repair work of any kind that needs approved plans.

This means you will spend around 1% more for every bit of building you do, for what I believe is little return. I’d rather work with a contractor who is a member of a recognised building association and is registered and compliant.

Tip of the week

Facing a cluttered garage can be daunting, but it simply requires some will and effort to sort it out. Picture: Lisa Fotios

Foryears I have been procrastinating about doing something about the garage, but after watching Mrs Mac clear out the rest of the house, I put my head down last weekend and got stuck in.

The big joke is I had to get rid of only one piece of workshop furniture. The problem was that I was not seeing the wood for the trees and had convinced myself there was never going to be enough room to fit everything in.

Well, there was more than enough after all – the problem was everything was in the wrong place. Now I am extremely happy, and Mrs Mac is smiling. 

However, I could not have achieved the above without some assistance, which I think is also important when you plan any task. Ask for help if it is too big a task to do alone, or you will never get started. I organised a company truck with a few willing workers that meant everything could be lifted and carried quickly and smoothly. Now I am off to my workspace to start sorting out the drawers and plan a few projects.

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