What Mundic means for your Building Project

Mundic is Cornish for ‘mine waste’ and refers to a substance used in concrete blocks which formed the foundation of many properties throughout Cornwall from the turn of the twentieth century until the 1950s. As the traditional raw materials to form and mould conventional red clay bricks were not available, these cheaper and easier local materials were recycled and seemingly put to good use.

Mundic consists of waste rock worked from mining and quarrying, free supplies of beach gravel, and iron containing sulphur, known as Pyrite, which is often referred to as fool’s gold.

What’s the issue with Mundic?

Unfortunately, this Cornish mine waste holds high levels of minerals, which have led to the deterioration of these concrete foundations over time. Today the term mundic is associated with this concrete degradation, which in some cases has caused significant complications for property owners, particularly when purchasing or mortgaging buildings. All is not lost however, as some people have come to see mundic as an opportunity for investment, especially when it only exists in part of the property.

What can you do about Mundic? 

If you’re considering an extension or some development work on a mundic block property, it’s necessary to ascertain the extent of any damage before you start any planning or work. Some surveyors offer a Mundic Test to screen concrete building materials, or they can arrange for one to be carried out on your behalf.

Mundic does not mean that you cannot develop or extend a property, though it may become costly. In some instances, raising the property, redesigning and then rebuilding on the land may be the best option.

Andrea Lane, Founder and Owner of Lane Architects, has first hand experience handling projects with mundic. Her house, 29 North Parade, which she designed and project managed, was previously a mundic bungalow. After extensive testing, the decision was made to raise the bungalow to the ground, redesigning it into a three bedroom dwelling.

Andrea’s experience:

Mundic can be in the walls or foundations or both. It is assessed by a specialist surveyor and graded from light to severe. This grade will determine whether you will be able to get a mortgage on the property or not. Often, on a mortgaged mundic property the mundic will need to be surveyed annually.

If mundic is in the walls, building works can be done to locate, remove and replace the affected blocks, however this can be costly. Mundic foundations work is more invasive and expensive.

We looked at the mundic bungalow at 29 North Parade as a good development opportunity as, realising we wished to build our own home, the main difficulty was finding a suitable plot. The bungalow plot was in a location near to Falmouth centre, but had good access and parking for deliveries. We were able to use the sloping site to design a split level home and minimise space given over to circulation by using the central staircase to access the main family rooms. As we were able to project manage the build and did a lot of the building work ourselves we kept the build price within our smallish budget. The demolition and rebuild took 18 months paid for with a self-build mortgage.

Want to know more?

If you’re starting to form a few ideas, have a burning question (check out our FAQs), or just need some advice about your next step, drop us a line on 07812 952275 or complete our contact form.

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