building valuations




Independent Building Surveyors in Oxford

If you are in the process of purchasing a property and are living in the Oxford area or if you just need a reminder of what a great City Oxford is then please read our article.

If you are buying or selling your house you do need someone on your side such as an Independent Building Surveyor. We can provide help and advice with regard to any property matters and can carry out building surveys, structural surveys, home surveys, home buyers reports, independent valuations, property surveys, house surveys, engineers reports and structural reports. If you are not moving home but have discovered problems in your property, such as cracking, then we can help with this and are more than happy to prepare a defects report.

If you are moving house within Oxford and would like a quote or a survey then please free phone 0800 298 5424 to discuss your requirements or obtain a free quotation from the website.


Oxford, the City of Dreaming Spires

Oxford known as the City of the Dreaming Spires is famous for its Universities, the rivalry of the Oxford and Cambridge boat race, its old historic stone buildings, travelling by bicycle and to some people Inspector Morse! If you are looking to live in or visit the Oxford area please read on.

Map of central Oxford


Main roads in Oxford City Centre

Although Oxford has a ring road around it when you visit the area you will see it is very much a pedestrian city centre with all the main attractions within easy walking distance of each other. The main primary roads for shopping in Oxford with their wonderful selection of shops and restaurants are High Street, Queen Street, Broad Street, St Aldates and Cornmarket Street.

Shop locations

Primary retail sector defined

The primary location would be shops in a high street or the main part of a shopping centre.


Secondary retail sector defined

The secondary retail sector is out of the main shopping area where the national and branded shops tend to be located. This is usually taken up by one off or local shops of lesser brands and national companies.


Tertiary retail sector defined

The tertiary retail sector is the area which is a step away from the main and secondary shopping areas possibly on the outskirts of a secondary retail area or perhaps on the periphery of a shopping arcade or in a poor area with regard to passing traffic.

Bus tours around the city do operate but it is best seen by foot so that you can take advantage of entering the hidden world of the Colleges which exist behind the doors. It is surprising how large the Colleges can be inside and this cannot be appreciated by merely walking around the streets.


Broad Street

Although Broad Street is one of Oxfords main shopping areas it is also home to Trinity and Balliol Colleges, The White Horse (as seen in Inspector Morse) and The Kings Arms pubs and the famous Sheldonian Theatre with its thirteen stone heads that are display to the perimeter.

Broad Street shops with bikes galore!


Broad Street

Broad Street with Balliol College on the left of the photo

High Street

The High Street in Oxford is home to the University Exam Schools, Botanical Gardens, All Souls, Queens and University Colleges and some higher end shops.

Corner of High Street and Cornmarket Street


St Aldates

St Aldates leads down to Christ Church meadow and the river, with the Town Hall and iconic Christ Church College, and the main shopping area of Queen Street, Cornmarket and the Westgate Centre and Clarendon Centre.

Entrance to the Clarendon Centre from Queen Street

St Michaels street off of Cornmarket Street with the spire of Wesley Memorial Church in the background


St Giles

St Giles is the main road connecting Oxford to the North and houses The Ashmolean Museum, Randolph Hotel, Martyrs Memorial and St John's College. St Giles leads onto Magadalen Street where you will find St Mary Magdalen Church.

St Mary Magdalen church close to St Giles


Epidemic of bikes - cycling is very popular in Oxford?

Whilst you are in the centre of Oxford, which is a very walkable area, you need to look out for all the bikes (both for interest and to avoid being knocked over!). There are cycling tours available to see the sights of the city and even walking tours advertised on the bikes!

Bikes are a popular form of transport in Oxford

Cycling is a popular way to get around in Oxford

Bike advertising a walking tour


Oxford University

The University is comprised of the Colleges (which act, in a simplistic sense, as halls of residence), the subject faculties and the libraries.

The undergraduate academic year is very short, with three, eight week terms named Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity. The work schedule is packed with science students spending their days in labs and arts students in the libraries.

Teaching takes place in both the subject faculties (consisting of lectures and seminars) and in the famous tutorials. These tutorials usually take place with one tutor teaching only a couple of students at a time in the tutors' offices within the Colleges. All undergraduates must pass first year exams (known as moderations or prelims) to continue their studies.


Collegiate System at Oxford

Unlike other universities, the collegiate system at Oxford offers a far more familial experience with little communities developing in each College. Each College has on average 500 students so people tend to all know each other by face if not by name very quickly. Students live and eat in College (for the majority if not all years of their study) and each College has its own library, chapel, bar and dining hall forming a self-contained unit. The Colleges also have their own ‘Head of House' (with varying official titles within the Colleges: President, Rector and Warden being the most common) who runs the College, supported by staff, fellows and the governing body.


University life at Oxford, the beginning!

The first term at Oxford as a ‘fresher' is a blur of lectures, essays and new teams and societies to join at the fresher's fair.

Fresher defined

A new student in their first year at University

Colleges tend to have a ‘parenting system' where each fresher is assigned a male and female in the College to look after them when they arrive – and so the College family expands.

The first few tutorials are particularly daunting – especially when there is nowhere to hide when you are asked questions on your reading list, or more frighteningly your opinion on the material, but it quickly becomes part of the routine.

The first year (before the thought of final exams appears) is also a time to enjoy all the tradition that Oxford has to offer – with various formal dinners in College and the chance to bring out the black tie. Over time, you gradually learn how to manage the seemingly impossible workload and other activities which contribute to life at University.

The short intense terms pass quickly and before you know it you are a finalist and the reality of having to pass final exams sinks in. For many subjects the entire course rests on a number of exams in the space of a couple of weeks, with no comfort blanket of accrued marks from earlier exams or dissertations.


Oxford University Social life

Despite the intense work schedules, the social life inside Colleges is very strong each with a JCR (Junior Common Room – for undergraduates) and MCR (Middle Common Room – for postgraduates) Committee who organise social events, represent the student views to the Governing Body and look after welfare provision within College.

A classic social event within Colleges is the ‘bop' which is a disco style evening often involving fancy dress themes and dubious looking cocktail mixes made up in buckets! Oxford, like Cambridge, is also famous for its white tie summer balls held in Colleges in the summer term – a chance to dress up and party in style until the sun rises!


Final exams, the end is in sight!

Weeks (or months) before the dreaded exams finalists disappear from College life into their College library or faculty and emerge only for food and sleep before the marathon of exams. Nonetheless, at the end, when everyone has survived (even though most are adamant that they will not), they are traditionally greeted from Exam Schools by their friends with balloons, confetti and champagne. Or, for the unlucky ones, if the Proctors (University law enforcers) are not looking they may get ‘trashed' (covered in unsavoury liquid concoctions often including fish soup, coffee, glue and other more disgusting materials).

Most will end up in the Turf Tavern for a celebratory pint of Old Rosie cider (the long drink with the highest alcohol content served) and those lucky enough to have had their exams before the end of term will find themselves in the rare situation of being able to enjoy all that Oxford has to offer without the guilty thought of the next book on the reading list!

Most students will try rowing at least one term in their Oxford career and those who enjoy to party will quickly learn that joining the law society is the best investment that can be made in terms of free drinks to membership cost!


University of Oxford, colleges and libraries

Christ Church

This College is home to locations seen in the Harry Potter films made famous by the books of the same name written by J. K. Rowling. In fact the Christ Church Great Hall was the inspiration behind Hogwarts Hall!

Also well worth a visit (although an entrance fee is charged!) is Christ Church Cathedral. The college is also home to the iconic ‘Old Tom' tower which contains the ‘Great Tom' bell, the loudest bell in Oxford and which has sounded every night since the Second World War.


The Radcliffe Camera­

The Radcliffe Camera which sits in Radcliffe Square just off the High Street is a University library. It is an impressive round building which houses what was originally an observatory on the top and is one of the most iconic buildings in Oxford. Its wooden shelves packed from ceiling to floor with books create a wonderful atmosphere for studying in.


All Souls College

All Souls College is home to the most intelligent academics of Oxford. Home to postgraduate scholars, admitted by invitation only and after a series of challenging (and notoriously bizarre) examinations. The College is not open to visitors but its main quadrangle can be viewed through iron gates from Radcliffe Square.


The Bodleian Library

One of the only copyright libraries in Britain, The Bodleian, or ‘The Bod' as it known locally, is an impressive building at the end of Broad Street. The central square with its statue of Charles 1 st is surrounded by the four walls of the library, housing the different schools (subject) books. Only part of the library is open to the public and due to the size of the collection many of the books are now held outside of Oxford and can be brought in for readers on request.

Courtyard of the Bodleian Library

Copyright Library

This entitles the library to receive a free copy of every book published as decided by parliament.


Corpus Christi College

This is one of the smallest Colleges and is the venue of the annual tortoise race. Many Colleges own College tortoises and they are brought together once a year in the summer in the garden of Corpus to defend the title of the fastest tortoise in Oxford and there is not a hare in sight!


St John's College

St John's College on St Giles was founded in 1555 and is one of the larger Colleges with six quadrangles and beautiful gardens. Canterbury Quadrangle is reputedly one of the quietest places in England, despite its city location.


The Sheldonian Theatre

The Sheldonian Theatre, next to the Bodleian Library is another iconic building in Oxford. It serves as a concert hall for many performances and also houses many University ceremonies including matriculation and graduation ceremonies for the students. Visitors may also climb to the top of the building for a wonderful view of the dreaming spires.

The Sheldonian theatre built by Christopher Wren

Rear of the Sheldonian theatre


Lincoln College

Lincoln College can be found on Turl Street and was founded in 1427. It was the College of John Wesley, founder of Methodism and boasts a working medieval kitchen.

Once a year the neighbouring Brasenose College residents are allowed in through a gate between the Colleges to drink ivy beer at Lincoln. This tradition came about when Lincoln College closed its gates during city riots and would not open them to Brasenose students who were seeking refuge from the streets and were subsequently killed.

Lincoln College on the left hand side of Turl Street

New College

New College (not so new as it was founded in the 14 th century) is one of the largest Colleges and is home to an extremely impressive chapel, beautiful cloisters and part of the original city wall which the College is obliged to maintain.


The River

Whilst the river does not belong to the University, if you go down to the banks which are accessed through Christ Church meadow, it shows an important part of Oxford in action. College boathouses line the river and throughout term time crews of 8 (usually) can be found rowing up and down the water in preparation for the termly intercollegiate races.


Examination Schools

Examination schools present a foreboding presence on the High Street, although not open to the public the vast size of the building, containing its magnificent exam rooms for Oxford students is easy to see from the pavement. The main examination rooms are immense high ceilinged rooms with portraits of ancient academics looking down on the students, this definitely concentrates the mind. Contrary to popular belief, exams are one of the only times, other than matriculation (formal entry to the University) and graduation, when students wear formal ‘sub fusc', white and black, with their gowns and carrying their mortar boards.


Historic buildings to visit in Oxford

Although Oxford is dominated by the University there are many other beautiful historic buildings to see. We will begin by mentioning Oxfords oldest building St Michaels Tower.


St Michaels Tower

Dating from about 1050 St Michaels Tower is a Saxon tower built in a stone known as coral rag. From a Building Surveyors point of interest it also has a datum stone. The tower is part of the parish church of St Michael at the North Gate and was the subject of a restoration project in 1986. The tower is open to the public and if you climb all the way to the roof top you are rewarded with a panoramic view of the City of Oxford and its architecture. The Church of St Michaels at the North Gate is in the centre of Oxford.

Oxfords oldest building – Saxon Tower of St Michael


Datum point- known to all surveyors. This is the point from which all buildings heights are taken

St Michaels Tower- part of St Michaels at the North Gate church


The Randolph Hotel

The Victorian-Gothic style five star hotel Randolph Hotel is a Grade II Listed Building located close to the Oxford Playhouse that was built in 1864.

The Randolph Hotel a five star hotel

Five star sign


Oxford Playhouse

The Playhouse, as it is usually known, was built in 1938 and is located on Beaumont Street. Many famous people have trod the boards at the Playhouse including Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Today there is a 50 seat studio near to the Playhouse called the Burton Taylor Studio where students from Oxford University can perform during term time.

Oxford playhouse on Beaumont Street


The Martyr's Memorial

The Victorian Gothic memorial, the design of which dates from 1838, was erected in recognition of the deaths of Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, burnt at the stake on a site nearby on Broad Street and martyrs for the principles of English Reformation.

The Martyr's Memorial on St Giles


Carfax Tower

The Carfax Tower is 74 feet in height and no building in the centre of Oxford is allowed to be taller than it. The tower was once part of St Martins church and is now all that remains of the 12 th century church.


Listed and historical Buildings and Conservation areas

The City of Oxford has over 1600 Grade I and Grade II listed buildings some of which date back to the 11 th century. Oxford also has many conservation areas within its borders such as Headington Hill, Iffley, Osney Town, Binsey and Marston.

Old historic building on Ship Street used now as a restaurant

Jettied front to this old building has had to be retained.

The building has a tile guard to catch any tiles that fall


Our passion for older property

This subject gives us the chance to mention our Surveying and our passion for older property. Here are a couple of the sketches that we would use in our surveys. Our sketches help explain problems that we cannot photograph or they can show how a detail should be and can show a typical problem such as with the hopper head sketch in the next section of the article.

Timber framed ceiling sketch that we may use in a survey of a Tudor property

Timber frame floor


Interesting details that can be seen on older buildings in Oxford

We noted some interesting details on properties during our time in Oxford.

Lead Hopper heads – some are old but some just appear to be old

Hopper heads can become blocked

Date of 1930 on a downpipe


Honest repairs on historic properties

An honest repair is something that we have come across during our surveys and is one that can be seen as opposed to hidden /covered up.

Honest repair on a property in ship street.

Honest repair


What are the circles and ovals in our articles and reports?

You may have noticed our circles and ovals on some of the photos within this article to highlight a specific object or area within the photo. We also use this system to highlight specific issues within our reports. If the report along with the photos still does not explain the problem enough then we also incorporate our exclusive sketches to clarify the issue further.

Render should have a Bell mouth detail at its base of typically 150mm above ground level

This bell mouth to the render is too close to ground level


Museums in Oxford

The Ashmolean Museum

The Ashmolean Museum is the world's first university museum. Its first building was built in 1678–1683 to house the cabinet of curiosities Elias Ashmole gave Oxford University in 1677. The museum reopened in 2009 after a major redevelopment. In November 2011 new galleries focusing on Egypt and Nubia were also unveiled.

The main museum contains huge collections of archaeological specimens and fine art. It has one of the best collections of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, majolica pottery and English silver.

The Ashmolean Museum

The archaeology department includes the bequest of Arthur Evans and so has an excellent collection of Greek and Minoan pottery. The department also has an extensive collection of antiquities from Ancient Egypt and the Sudan, and the museum hosts the Griffith Institute for the advancement of Egyptology.


The Museum of Oxford

The Museum of Oxford, built in 1975, is a history museum located in the Town Hall on St Aldates Road. Here you will find displays of original artefacts and treasures from Oxfords History.


Museum of the History of Science

You will find the Museum of the History of Science in Broad Street in the Old Ashmolean building, the oldest purpose built museum building. The museum houses a vast collection of over 18,000 objects.


In 2010 the first major Steampunk art exhibition was hosted by the museum.

Museum of the History of Science in Broad Street


Pitts Rivers Museum

The Pitt Rivers Museum is a museum founded by Augustus Pitt Rivers in 1884. He donated his own archaeological collection of more than twenty thousand items to the University but this has now expanded into more than 500,000 items that are all displayed by theme rather than age.


Public Houses in Oxford

Oxford has many public houses including The Crown dating from 1625 which was one of the very first coaching houses. It is said to have been a favourite destination of William Shakespeare when travelling between London and Stratford.

Over the years we have had the privilege of carrying out many Building Surveys on Public Houses both Freehold and Leasehold in the form of Commercial Building Surveys and Schedules of Condition. We would be more than happy to help you if you are thinking of buying a pub in Oxford or taking on a lease. Please free phone us on 0800 298 5424.

The crown public house

Other notable pubs include, The Eagle and Child (colloquially known as The Bird and Baby), famous for being the meeting place of The Inklings, a writing group which included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkein and The Bear, reputably the oldest (and probably smallest) pub in Oxford and home to a large collection of University ties.

Crown pub sign


Different areas of Oxford


Jericho is positioned to the North West of the city centre is locally acknowledged as the ‘trendy, bohemian' part of Oxford with numerous bars, cafés and restaurants lining its streets.

Iffley village

Iffley village in South Oxford is reached by the student populated Iffley Road. The village itself is a beautiful example of a Cotswold village with thatched cottages

Temple Cowley

Temple Cowley in East Oxford is reached by the trendy Cowley Road and is the most ethnically diverse part of Oxford. The Cowley Road itself boasts restaurants catering for every international cuisine possible and a mix of trendy bars and cafes.


Headington also lies to the East of Oxford and is a commuter route with direct buses to London. It houses the main Oxford Brookes campus. It is a leafy green area surrounded by parks and contains a multitude of hospitals. With its own High Street, this is definitely suburban Oxford.


Summertown lies to the North of Oxford between the Oxford Canal and Cherwell river and has a number of shops and restaurants as well as residential areas.


Places of entertainment to enjoy whilst in Oxford

The Ultimate Picture Palace

This is a cinema off of the Cowley Road showing a mixture of popular, independent and foreign films.

The Oxford Ice Rink

The ice rink is only a ten minute walk from the city centre.

Modern Art Oxford

A modern art gallery established in 1965 in Oxford.

The Botanical Gardens

The University of Oxford Botanic Garden was founded in 1621 as a physic garden (a medicinal herb garden).The garden covers an area of over 4 acres and contains thousands of different varieties and species of plants.

University Parks

Oxford is a very green city with a park never far away. The most impressive parks are the University Parks off South Parks Road. They contain various sports arenas including the cricket pavilion and grass tennis courts in the summer and have a beautiful river running through the middle.

Punting on the river!

Punting is an Oxford pastime for a sunny or not so sunny day. Punts can be hired, with or without a chauffeur from Magdalen Bridge for around £20 an hour – float along the river and take a picnic!


We have many other articles on our website for you to read

Please have a good look around our website to see how much detail we go into regarding property and their associated problems in our articles. We also go into this much depth and detail within our reports both with the written part of the report and the sketches and photos that we include as standard to explain any issues that we may find.

Here are some of our surveying articles that may be of help to you

Beautifully Naive Thoughts

Listed Buildings

Location, Location, Location


 Compare our Building Surveys but don't compare Apples with Thursdays  

If you require a Building Survey or a Structural Survey on a home, house or commercial property we believe as Building Surveyors we have a wealth of experience and expertise that we can utilise to help you. What's more we are so confident with our higher than average standards that we believe that there is no other comparable survey available in the UK property and surveying market.


Example of our survey reports

We are more than happy to email you examples of our Surveys that we have carried out on similar properties to the one that you are looking to buy although we do appreciate that all properties are unique. We really believe that you should see what you are getting in the form of an example Survey before you purchase a property. Please free phone 0800 298 5424.


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