The following information highlights some of the most common issues found in house surveys and the implications for homebuyers. Also outlined, are the next steps your surveyor will recommend to rectify any defects so that you know what you can expect to find on your report.
Japanese knotweed is one of the most invasive plants in Britain. It can grow over 2m high and is highly destructive, rapidly causing damage to everything from drains and pipes to foundations and conservatories. This is not a plant that you want your survey to uncover.
If it is discovered in your survey, it will need to be eliminated by a specialist, but it is notoriously difficult to get rid of and may take up to 3 years to complete.
Asbestos can cause life-threatening health problems so can be incredibly harmful if it is present in your home. Although it was banned in 1999, many homes may still harbour the substance without the owner’s knowledge and is most commonly found in insulation in roofing.
A property survey will detect whether asbestos is present in your home and, if it is found, an asbestos survey is recommended to further investigate the issue, before being removed by a specialist contractor.
Damp is a very common defect found in many properties. Your home survey will identify damp and determine which type is present – penetrating damp, rising damp, or condensation. All of which can cause serious long term damage to the property and, if left, can worsen the state of the property as a whole.
Faulty drainage can lead to a number of issues including flooding, damp, rot, and water damage. Your survey will uncover any defects with drainage such as blocked, leaking, or damaged drains, and then assess the extent of the damage to determine the course of action.
You will likely be able to resolve these issues through maintenance such as keeping gutters and drains clean, clear, and in good condition.
Insulation is important in your property to reduce heating costs and protect the environment, however, your survey may uncover faults in your insulation if it does not comply with EPC standards.
Your surveyor may find your insulation to be insufficient in places, including your roof, piping and heating system, and cavity walls. Maybe areas are missing insulation or areas need to be more insulated or insulation may need fixing. You should be able to fix insulation issues yourself or you can hire a professional for tricky to access areas.
Your survey can uncover multiple defects with your roofing, and flat roofs, in particular, may present more issues than pitched roofs as they are cheaper and not as durable or long-lasting.
Roofing issues range from smaller defects such as cracked tiles, wear and tear, moss, and insecure guttering to larger problems including leaks, sagging roof and sitting water. Minor problems can be rectified by a handyman or by yourself, but more extreme problems will need a roof survey and the advice of a specialist roofing contractor.
Structural movement can pose a real threat to your property as any movement can weaken your home’s core structure, causing it to shift and potentially collapse. Structural movement is indicated by cracks in walls, sloping floors and ceilings, misaligned and jammed doors and windows, and gaps and spaces in the frame.
Movement may be caused by subsidence, heave, thermal movement, poor drainage, or tree roots. Your surveyor will identify any warning signs as well as the root cause and offer advice on what action to take to prevent further movement, whether this is a specific structural survey or a subsidence survey.
Timber decay and rot occur when timber in your home is exposed to moisture and becomes too wet. This causes fungus to grow and spread which decays the wood and weakens your home’s structure.
If timber decay and rot are uncovered by your survey, remedial action needs to be taken immediately to eliminate the moisture, eradicate the wood-destroying fungus, and re-strengthen your potential home’s structural timbers.
Woodworm infestations pose a threat to timber in properties.
If uncovered in your property, a timber specialist is required urgently to remove the infestation as soon as possible as, if left unattended to, the insects can continue to bore through and destroy the wood, weakening your potential home’s structure and risking collapse.
Although this is not an immediately obvious issue, window frames can become rotten if the property is old or just prone to damp. Replacing them can be very expensive. If this is the case in the property you are looking to buy, find out first if you can replace part of the frame as this will likely be cheaper than replacing the entire frame.
Some of these are unfortunately unavoidable however, getting a house survey can dramatically reduce the risk for you.