Of all the rules and regulations that apply to our industry now, one of the most I hear very little about is also one of the rules most flouted in my opinion: the requirement for lintels.

According to Approved Document A, these are the legal requirements for lintels:

The necessity for lintels is dependent on the design of the structure. However even if no lintel is fitted above the existing aperture, the installation company isĀ responsibleĀ for assessing if lintels should be installed because of potential movement in the brickwork. If required, a lintel should be installed. The installation company cannot avoid the issue on the grounds that because the original window did not have a lintel, the the replacement does not need one either. The installation company is responsible for advising whether or not lintels are required. A disclaimer issued by the customer is not an acceptable practise.

If a lintel is required, the lintel contract can be separate from the window contract and a separate cost would be involved. The installation company would be within their rights to charge for the lintels and for them to be installed. Retrospective remedial work required due to the lintels not being installed would normally be at the installation company’s cost.

So, in short, if you have a window or door that does not currently have a lintel, you must price to have one installed. Above it does say that the installers need to assess if there could be any movement in the brickwork if there isn’t currently a lintel. But any rational thinking person would realise that if a window or door is the only decent thing holding the brickwork up, then of course a lintel needs to be put in.

As far as I’m concerned, this means for every window or door that doesn’t have one, we have to price to have one installed. Yet, when I go out on jobs, all too often the customer tells me that the other companies they have had in haven’t even mentioned anything about lintels and that when I explain the situation to them, it is the first they have heard about it. Good for me and the image of the business, bad for the rest of you who fail to mention it or fail to put any in!

The area where I work is a bit hit and miss when it comes to lintels. A previous surveyor who worked here explained to me that for a period in the 60’s – 80’s, the building industry was a tad unregulated and that despite lintels laws being in place, many houses were built without them. Either side of this chunk of time, more likely than not the property I’m measuring up will have nice visible lintels.

There really should be no confusion when it comes to lintels. If there isn’t one, put one in. Simple!