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What do house surveyors look for?

The purpose of a house survey is to determine whether the property has any structural problems, or any repairs that are needed before the house can be deemed suitable for living in.  A qualified chartered property surveyor will study the property, looking for signs of fault and damage.

Examples of typical issues can include unstable walls, subsidence, broken roof, faults with the chimney, signs of damp, timber infestations and rot.

Let’s start with the basics.

What is a house survey?

A house survey, also known as a property survey is a detailed inspection to determine the property’s condition.  Such an inspection is put in place in order to find all the faults in the property, and sometimes that can include issues that you may not have even been aware of yourself.

It’s basically a health check for a property.  It’s an important part of buying and selling property, since new home owners will want to be assured that their new home is up to current standards.

The beauty of a house survey is that it can be carried out by an independent contractor, rather than by an organisation that is linked to either the buying or the selling of the property.  That way you can be assured that the survey report will be completely free of bias.

Some house surveys highlight issues with damp and timber, and we’ll give special attention to that shortly.

When should I get a survey?

It’s not a legal requirement to have a survey on a property you are buying.  But it is a very good idea to have one.  They can help you avoid expensive and unwanted surprises, like an unexpected rewiring job or dry rot in your walls.  And on the flip side, it can also give you peace of mind by showing you that those hairline cracks don’t mean the house is falling down.

If you intend to pay for the house by way of mortgage, then your mortgage lender will require a valuation by a surveyor, to ensure that the property is sufficiently good enough to lend against.  The mortgage provider should arrange for a surveyor to value the property within a few days of agreeing the mortgage in principle.

This is often just a superficial survey however, but you can get the survey upgraded, or commission a separate survey.

Although buyers are able to arrange a house survey to be carried out before they put a property up for sale, it just doesn’t happen as often as it should, and it usually falls to the buyer to pay for the survey.

If you have taken a liking to a particular property, and have made an offer, then we strongly recommend that you arrange a survey as soon as possible after the offer has been accepted.

This allows you to make a good, informed decision about whether or not you still want to go ahead and buy the property.

A house survey is particularly valuable if you’re dubious about the condition of the property for any reason, or if it’s an old property, or if it has a thatched roof or is timber framed.

Keys in door of new home

Damp and Timber Surveys

Sometimes your home buyers report will mention issues with damp, rotting timber or timber infestations. The cause and extent of the problem can sometimes be clear for the untrained to see.  But other times it takes a qualified expert to spot potential problems with a damp and timber infestation.  This way you can be assured that any problems are diagnosed correctly. A general surveyor does not have the expertise to correctly identify the root cause of damp and timber issues, which is why they will recommend you contact a member of the Property Care Association (PCA).

Damp surveys can typically take between 3 to 4 hours to complete, but this can be longer, depending on the building.

Similarly, the cost of the survey will depend on the building as well.

Where a damp and timber survey has been carried out, the report will include a sketch plan detailing if any treatment for damp or condensation, damp proofing, dry rot, or woodworm treatments need to be carried out.  Our surveyor will be able to answer any questions that you may have.

Damp report

The surveyor looks at the outside of the property to spot damp ingress.  They will look at the roof and rainwater goods, through to the ground floor level.  And they will look at subfloor ventilation

The surveyor determines whether the property already has an existing damp proof course of some sort, and if so identify the type.  He or she will then look out for high ground levels which may lead to a bridging of the damp proof course

Inside the house, ground floor walls are also profiled for signs of rising dampness. Throughout the property signs of penetrating damp may be observed. The surveyors will use an electrical conductance moisture meter to identify the moisture profile. This helps to identify the root cause as is different types of damp, display different moisture patterns.

The surveyor will also look into the roof void for signs of dampness, fungal decay or beetle infestation.

Timber report

Where accessible, the surveyor may look for potential timber decay in the roof void.  Where permission is granted, carpets will be pulled back on the first floor of the building to be examined for signs of woodworm or fungal decay e.g. dry rot.  In addition to the examination of the timbers, the sub floor void will also be looked at, should permission be granted.

What happens once the survey is completed?

Once a damp and timber survey has been carried out, the surveyor will produce a report detailing the condition the house is in.  This report can take up to 10 days to come through.  A copy of this report is then sent to the conveyancer or qualified lawyer who is handling the title transfer of the property.

If you survey uncovers notable issues, then you can use it to renegotiate the price you’re willing to pay, because you’re not legally bound to buy the property until the point of exchange.  All you have to do is say that the survey has identified issues that you were unaware of when you first made the offer and that these issues cost money to be addressed.

If however, you are happy to proceed, then, once your conveyancer has carried out all the necessary checks on the property, you will be asked to read and agree to the terms of your contract.

Contact Us For a Damp and Timber Survey

If you need a damp and timber survey, contact Atlantis Damp today. As a Cheshire based family business, we pride ourselves on the honesty of our reports. If no work needs doing, we will let you know and when treatment is needed, we will work with you to create the best solutions possible. Our honest approach to the thorough assessment of your property always helps our customers to feel that the options available have been thoroughly explained and that they can have confidence that the correct diagnosis and treatment is provided.