Q&A: How worried should I be by cracks in my living room?

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I have noticed a few cracks appearing in my front room. I have lived in the house for almost a year and have not noticed these before. One runs to the left of the bay window and up to the ceiling. The lining paper has been pulled apart along the crack. I can redecorate and fill in the crack but could it be something more serious?

Q. I have noticed a few cracks appearing in my front room. I have lived in the house for almost a year and have not noticed these before. One runs to the left of the bay window and up to the ceiling. The lining paper has been pulled apart along the crack. I can redecorate and fill in the crack but could it be something more serious?
WW, by e-mail

A.Cracks often appear in the summer months when the soil dries out and water is removed from the ground by trees or bushes growing nearby. They can also be caused by a leaking pipe, which may be washing away the foundations and could be the start of subsidence. If the wall has recently been replastered, this could also cause cracking as the plaster dries out and may not be serious. You could fill in the crack and redecorate to see if the problem reoccurs or you could monitor it yourself over the next few months. If you suspect it is something more serious you would be wise to contact your buildings insurer and seek their advice over your next course of action. This may involve a surveyor doing a site visit to establish what the problem is. To find a chartered surveyor in your area call 0870 333 1600 or log on to www.rics.org/public.

Q. We have recently moved to a Fifties house and would like to reorder the living accommodation to provide a large kitchen/dining room and a family room to the back of the house. We need someone to give us some practical ideas but don't know where to start and how much this would cost. As it would involve removing and rebuilding walls it's not just a case of a kitchen redesign. Do you have any ideas?
TJ, by e-mail

A.You could start by looking through some style magazines and clipping out rooms that you think would suit your property including furniture styles, flooring and colour schemes. Light will be extremely important to this project so look for doors, windows and skylights too. You could then consider employing an architect to help you come up with some plans. If you cannot find one through recommendation, look at the website www.architect-yourhome.com, which represents a network of 15 practices across the country. Each of these has worked on a wide range of projects for both modern and period properties. Costs start from £400 for a half day or £700 for a full day (plus VAT). An architect will visit your home and help you to develop some ideas. You will receive a set of hand drawings that you can then progress to the next step - each stage is individually priced so you know exactly what you are paying for - or you can hand the drawings directly to a builder. Any work will have to comply with planning and building regulations.

If you would like a query answered, e-mail: propertyq&a@independent. co.uk. Only those questions featured will be answered. Any advice given will not be legally binding

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