Hi, I continually suffer from cracking grout in my dormer conversion shower room. The project was completed almost 4 years ago now and the quadrant shower has not really been used to its full potential. I am now on my 4th problem whereby the grout cracks at the rear of the quadrant where the tiles meet. The builder is now saying that it is settlement and that they are not covered? Surely this can’t be right, I have friends who have conversions and no problems with the tiles or grout cracking. Any ideas or what I should do to get this fixed.

  • Mark Brinkley

    It’s a very common problem and it is usually caused by settlement, although this is often related specifically to the shrinkage of newly laid timber as it dries out and becomes acclimatised to the background moisture content of your dormer conversion. Timber can shrink by up to 8% as it dries so a 250mm joist can end up at 235mm over the course of two years or so. This can easily make a mockery of attempting to waterproof showers laid on new timber. Usually the crack is between the shower tray (fixed to the floor) and the tiles (fixed to the wall).

    This may (or may not) be your problem but, assuming it is, the next question is where does the blame lie and is the builder still culpable after four years? If its one builder responsible for the floor laying and the shower installation, you may have a case as the settlement is their fault due to not letting the timber dry out before the shower was fixed. If it’s different contractors, you will have a problem apportioning blame. And of course, it may be a fault that doesn’t result from defective building work – the settlement may be unconnected with the building work.

  • Brian Manley

    Dear Mark, thank you very much for your comment. The shower tray was fitted during the completion of the Dormer. Then it failed within the first year, then again after another 11 months, this time the shower tray was refitted and the tiles replaced again. This time round it has taken over a year to resurface but I question settlement? Why I question it is because the timbers that were saturated last time may of still been wet at the time. I also feel that where the second stair winder meets the wall of the shower room, some movement might be evident? I have asked the the company provide proof of settlement, after all they are the experts. I still find it hard to believe that after 4 years settlement is evident?

  • Mark Brinkley

    Settlement and movement are not quite the same thing, although they amount to the same in terms of fabric performance. The issue may be that the joists were saturated by the leak in the shower and would thus be at their deepest when the tiling was replaced. Only to dry out again (and shrink) as the moisture dried out – enough to cause the tiling join to crack again and to start the whole process over again. What you are wondering is whether it’s just localised joist shrinkage or something more substantial as in building settlement. I’m afraid it’s not the sort of thing you can answer on an internet Q&A – it needs a site visit, probably from a qualified building surveyor.

  • Brian Manley

    Once again Thank you very much for your help, it has been very enlightening. I have found it very hard to get assistance/advice on what I believe is a manufactured problem caused by those who completed my project. Common sense dictates that for the same problem to be evident time after time in the same location, some for of weakness exist. I will march onwards with your advice. Then at least I will have solid foundations (unlike my current problem) to enable me to move onwards.
    Once again, thank you very much for your advice. I will of course update you as to the findings.
    Kind regards,


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