COMMERCIAL BUILDING SURVEY
OF
An antique shop with living accommodation above


FOR

Mr & Mrs A Client


Prepared by:

GEM Associates Limited


INDEPENDENT CHARTERED SURVEYORS

FOR ANY HELP OR ASSISTANCE CALL FREE PHONE:


0800 298 5424

or

visit our website:
www.1stAssociated.co.uk

 

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

REPORT FORMAT
SYNOPSIS

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
SUMMARY UPON REFLECTION

EXTERNAL

CHIMNEY STACKS,
ROOF COVERINGS AND UNDERFELTS
GUTTERS AND DOWNPIPES
WALLS
EXTERNAL JOINERY
EXTERNAL DECORATIONS

INTERNAL

CEILINGS, WALLS, PARTITIONS AND FINISHES
CHIMNEY BREASTS, FLUES AND FIREPLACES
FLOORS
DAMPNESS
INTERNAL JOINERY
TIMBER DEFECTS
INTERNAL DECORATIONS
CELLARS
THERMAL EFFICIENCY
OTHER MATTERS

SERVICES

ELECTRICITY
GAS
PLUMBING AND HEATING
BATHROOMS
MAIN DRAINS

OUTSIDE AREAS

EXTERNAL AREAS

POINTS FOR LEGAL ADVISOR

APPENDICES

LIMITATIONS
ELECTRICAL REGULATIONS
GENERAL INFORMATION ON THE PROPERTY MARKET

 

INTRODUCTION

Firstly, may we thank you for your instructions of xxxxxxxx; we have nowundertaken a Building Survey (formerly known as a Structural Survey) of the aforementioned property. This Survey was carried out on xxxxxxxxxx.

The Building Survey takes the following format; there is an introductory section (which you are currently reading), which includes a synopsis of the building, and a summary of our findings.

We then go through a detailed examination of the property starting with the xternal areas working from the top of the property down, followed by the internal areas and the buildings services. We conclude with the section for our Legal Advisor and also attach some general information on the property market.

We are aware that a report of this size is somewhat daunting and almost offputting to the reader because of this. We would stress that the purchase of a house is usually one of the largest financial outlays made (particularly when you consider the interest you pay as well).

We recommend that you set aside time to read the report in full, consider the comments, make notes of any areas which you wish to discuss further and phone us.

We obviously expect you to read the entire report but we would suggest that you initially look at the summary, which refers to various sections in the report which we recommend you read first so that you get a general feel for the way the report is written.

As part of our service we are more than happy to talk through the survey as many times as you wish until you are completely happy to make a decision. Ultimately, the decision to purchase the house is yours but we will do our best to offer advice to make the decision as easy as possible.

REPORT FORMAT

To help you understand our Report we utilise various techniques and different styles and types of text, these are as follows:-

GENERAL/HISTORICAL INFORMATION

This has been given in the survey where it is considered it will aid understanding of the issues, or be of interest. This is shown in “italics” for clarity.

TECHNICAL TERMS DEFINED

Throughout the Report, we have endeavoured to define any technical terms used. This is shown in “Courier New” type face for clarity.

PHOTOGRAPHS

We utilise photographs to illustrate issues or features. In some photographs a pencil has been used to highlight a specific area (with this property we have taken approximately one hundred photographs in total and we have enclosed a sample of these within the report).

ORIENTATION

Any reference to left or right is taken from the front of the property, including observations to the rear, which you may not be able to physically see from the front of the property.

ACTION REQUIRED AND RECOMMENDATIONS

We have used the term ACTION REQUIRED where we believe that there are items that you should carry out action upon or negotiate upon prior to purchasing the property.

Where a problem is identified, we will do our best to offer a solution.However, with most building issues, there are usually many ways to resolve them dependent upon cost, time available and the length of time you wish the repair/replacement to last.


SYNOPSIS

SITUATION AND DESCRIPTION

This is a two storey semi detached property with single storey rear extensions in a corner plot position, which has been amended and altered over the years as have most properties of this age. The property presently has a mix use as an antique shop and home.

The property is situated on the xxxx in xxxxx, which is a very busy road from our experience during the survey.

We are advised that this property was bought in 1995 and refurbished the year after by the present owners.

The owner presently enjoys the additional benefits of owning the surrounding properties, which include a parking area. These will not be available to yourselves and you should ensure that you are happy with the parking arrangements as we feel there may be issues arising around these with the property owners to the rear of this property.

ACTION REQUIRED: Your Legal Advisor should make further investigations into the proposed surrounding developments and your Legal Advisor should specifically ask the present owner, as he owns many of the surrounding properties, what his proposals are.

Putting Life into Perspective!

Some of the things that were happening around the time the property was built:

1994

Digital Cameras (also the first recorded case of SPAM, interestingly enough, sent out by an Arizonian law company)

1994
The Channel Tunnel is opened
1997
Death of Princess Diana
Late 1990s
British Property Boom
2000
Broadband
2001
7/11 - Terrorists crash planes into World Trade Centre
2003
England win the Rugby World Cup


ACCOMMODATION AND FACILITIES

The two buildings that are
going to be split.

Right Hand Side Elevation
Rear Elevation
Garden



ACCOMMODATION AND FACILITIES

Ground Floor - Commercial

  • Trading Area with associated office to the right hand side Note: We are advised that you are aware that the trading area will be reduced and the cellar trading area is not included within the sale.

Ground Floor - Residential

  • Side Entrance
  • Kitchen
  • Utility Area
  • Laundry Room
  • Cloakroom
  • Dining Area
  • Lounge
  • Staircase leading to First Floor
  • Staircase leading to the Cellar

Cellar

This follows the footprint of the front portion of the property.

First Floor

  • Four Bedrooms
  • Large Family Bathroom including a four piece suite and shower
  • Study
  • Dressing Area with access to the Lof

INTERNAL PHOTOGRAPHS

Please note that some of the photos may have been taken with a concave lens, to enable us to show you as much of the room as possible, which does make the photos slightly blurred.

The Bathroom
Fire place in the right hand
Bedroom
The Kitchen
The Kitchen
The Dining Area, looking
into the Kitchen

The Utility Area
The Loungesss

 

SUMMARY OF CONSTRUCTION

EXTERNAL

Chimneys:

Five brick chimneys

Main Roof:
Pitched roof, clad with small concrete tiles
Associated Roofs:
Clad with manmade slates
Rainwater Goods:
Plastic
Walls:
Finished with brickwork and a Victorian shop frontage
External Joinery:
Sliding sash windows, both vertical and horizontal. Painted timber fascias and soffits

INTERNAL

Ceilings:

A mixture of lath and plaster and plasterboard (assumed)

Walls:
Predominantly studwork (assumed)
Floors:
Ground Floor: Predominantly a suspended timber floor with a concrete (assumed) to the rear of the property.
 
First Floor: Joist and floorboards (assumed)

OUTSIDE

A walled garden to the rear of the property with access through the property and to the right hand side we are advised a driveway with parking. Your Legal Advisor needs to confirm this.

The above terms are explained in full in the main body of the Report. We have used the term ‘assumed’ as we have not opened up the structure.

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Summaries are dangerous as they try to précis often quite complex subjects into a few paragraphs. This is particularly so in a summary about someone’s future home when we are trying to second-guess what their priorities are, so it is important the Report is read in full.

It is inevitable with a report on a building of this nature that some of the issues we have focussed in on you may dismiss as irrelevant and some of the areas that we have decided are part of the ‘character’ of this property you may think are very important. We have taken in the region of 300 photographs during the course of this survey and many pages of notes, so if a comment has not been discussed that you are interested in/concerned about, please phone and talk to us before you purchase the property (or indeed commit to purchasing the property), as we will more than likely have noted it and be able to comment upon it. If we have not we will happily go back.

Having said all of that, here are our comments:-

Generally we found the house in reasonable order. We would however draw
your attention to the following.

1. Dampness to Chimneys
 
Minor dampness is coming in around the chimneys, particularly the right hand side chimneys where the flashings have seen various repairs, but now need a proper job carrying out.

ACTION REQUIRED: Renew lead flashing. The owner said he may be prepared to carry out this work to both chimneys. Tar to the base of the chimney

ANTICIPATED COST: Due to the high level a mobile lifting platform may need to be used; expect in the region of £500 - £1,000.

Tar to the base of the chimney
on the right hand side allowing
damp in.
A cement flashing can be seen
to the base of the chimney. This needs to be replaced with lead.
Also notice the valley gutter is getting blocked.

Please see the Chimneys and Dampness Sections of this Report.
   
2. Roof
 
We found the timbers in the roof not to be in the best of condition for a variety of reasons,although some deterioration should be expected in an older property we f eel this is more than we would normally be happy with.

We found the timbers to be slightly damp;this is, we believe, due to condensationoccurring, as the roof is not adequatelyvented. Whilst there are vents to the eaves,these looked to have been blocked by theaddition of insulation. Also it would benormal practice to put vents at ridge level.

The timbers within the roof have been affected by woodworm too, which we are not overly concerned about as this type of roof construction tended to be over design, but in this instance we think the woodworm is still active (although we are assured that the roof has been sprayed) from the frass (the chewed sawdust) that the woodworm leaves behind.
General view of the common rafters(the ones that form the
pitch of theroof) dampness can
be clearly seenin them. Some is coming from thechimney and
some is viacondensation.
General view of the roof
structure.
An area where the roof structure has been strengthened with the addition of a new timber on the left hand side (dark brown). We noted that this had no woodworm in, indicating that in this area the woodworm is not active.
However if you look closely at this picture we could see some frass on top of the insulation that we believe indicates active woodworm.
In the centre of this photo is a metal plate, indicating that there have been problems with the strength of this roof in the past and it has been tied together with metal plates. Various ones of these were found.
Here you can see a mixture of timbers have been used, or re-used we should say, in the construction and additional timbers will have to be added and possibly some replaced.
Looking down into the valley gutter on the far left hand side (all directions are given as you face the property), as you can see there is some plant growth on the left hand side of the chimney, this is because the valley gutter is blocked, which in turn is allowing dampness to get into the roof.

And it gets worse! Not that this is a particularly hard problem to solve, from what we could see.

 

ACTION REQUIRED: Improve ventilation to the roof (the present owner said he would possibly be able to do some of this work, please consult with him). We would recommend that ventilation is added at the ridge level as well to allow the roof to air and the timbers to dry out and then we suggest that we carry out a return visit to identify which timbers specifically need either removal or replacement and/or additional support. When our re-visit is carried out we can also put equipment in the roof to establish if the woodworm is active (more
about these in the main body of the report).

ANTICIPATED COST: Ensuring the ventilation is re-opened at the eaves level is a DIY/Handyman type job. Adding ventilation at the ridge level is more difficult. We would expect no more than two to three days work for a good roofer, but expect costs therefore to be around £1,000 plus, depending upon whether scaffolding is required.

At the same time as the roofer is carrying out this work we suggest that the valley gutters are all cleared out and the flashings checked in this area and also the work could be carried out, as mentioned earlier, with regard to the chimneys.

Please see the Roof Structure Section of this Report.
3.
Rising Damp
 
sn a property of this age it is not unusual to have some dampness and the dampness seems confined to the commercial areas of the property (although we would still suggest you have a full test throughout the entire house). Our dampness meter detected dampness in the timber joist ends.

The main concern we have with this is that it is affecting the joists that sit into the front wall. This could be seen within the cellar area. These joists has obviously been affected in the past as some of them have been renewed and replaced. In this photo you can see that some of the timbers have been replaced.
 
 

ACTION REQUIRED: We suggest you have damp proof companies (at least three) to provide a quotation and forward a copy to us for further discussion.

Please see the Dampness Section of this Report.

 

Handyman/DIY Type Jobs

There are numerous other items that we would class as DIY or handyman type work such as repainting some of the fascias and soffits and some minor low level re-pointing. These problems are fairly typical for this age, style and type of property. We have detailed these and other issues within the main body of the report.

The above issues are explained in full within the main body of the report.

Purchase Price

We have not been asked to comment upon the purchase price in this instance, we have however referred you to sources of general information on the housing market within the Information on the Property Market Section, which can be found in the Appendices at the end of the Report.

Every Business Transaction has a Risk

Every business transaction has a risk, only you can assess whether that risk is acceptable to you and your circumstances. You should now read the main body of the Report paying particular attention to any “ACTION REQUIRED” points.

Estimates of Costs

Where we have offered an estimate of building costs please remember we are not experts in this area. We always recommend you obtain quotations for the large jobs before purchasing the property (preferably three quotes). The cost of building work has many variables such as the cost of labour, we are currently using between £75 per day for unskilled labour up to £200 per day for an accredited, qualified, skilled tradesman. Other variations include the quality of materials used and how the work is carried out, for example off ladders or from scaffold.

If you obtain builders estimates that vary widely, we would advise the work is probably difficult or open to various interpretations and we would recommend a specification is prepared. It would probably be best to supervise the work if it is complex, both of which we can do if so required.

 

SUMMARY UPON REFLECTION

The Summary Upon Reflection is a second summary so to speak, which is carried out with our thoughts a few days after the initial survey. We would add the following:-

Superficially this property looks far better than it is. We feel the interior in particular is to a very high standard and will look quite different once the furniture and various items have been removed.

We feel the owner is very much dealt with the easier to deal with items, generally those that he could do himself. From chatting to him and seeing his work we feel this is to a good quality, it is the areas that he has not got round to doing that are the issue here.

The work we would class as high level work, i.e. chimneys, vents to the roof, valley gutters and repair of the roof is more difficult/expensive because it is at high level. We suggest that you obtain quotations for this work and negotiate the price based on these quotations.

In all honesty the damp proof course, or lack of it, to the front of the property is not a particularly big problem in a commercial shop area and there are no obvious signs that the joists will need replacing in the imminent future, although you can never be certain unless you open them up.

We therefore feel that you should look for a reduction in the price based upon the quotation for the high level work. We will give you a figure to work to, we would expect this work to cost in the region of £5,000 - £25,000, probably at the lower end of this figure, but this always depends upon what is found and whether scaffolding is needed.

We are also concerned over the future parking arrangement for this property and you should ensure that your Legal Advisor and yourself are happy with these arrangements.

As a general comment for any work required we would always recommend that you obtain at least three quotations for any work from a qualified, time served tradesperson or a competent registered building contractor prior to legal completion. If you so wish we can prepare specifications and obtain quotations for the work, whatever you do don’t allow the estate agent to organise the quotes as he will utilise people he regularly uses who know they have to keep in with him/her to get further work and therefore are very keen to please the estate agent, as opposed to you the real client and at the end of the day it doesn’t take long to organise.

We would ask that you read the Report and contact us on any issues that you require further clarification on.

 

MORE ABOUT THE REPORT FORMAT

Just a few more comments about the Report format before you read the actual main body of the Report.

TENURE

We have assumed that the property is to be sold Freehold or Long leasehold, with no unusual or onerous clauses and that vacant possession will be available on completion. Your Legal Advisor should confirm that this is the case.

ESTATE AGENTS – FRIEND OR FOE?

It is important to remember that the estate agents are acting for the seller (usually known as the vendor) and not the purchaser and are therefore eager to sell the property (no sale – no fee!). We as your employed Independent
Chartered Surveyor represent your interests only.

TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT/LIMITATIONS

This report is being carried out under our terms of engagement for Residential Building Surveys, as agreed to and signed by yourselves. If you have not seen and signed a copy of our terms of engagement please phone immediately.

OUR AIM IS ONE HUNDRED PERCENT SATISFACTION

Our aim is for you to be completely happy with the service we provide, and we will try and help you in whatever way possible with your house purchase - just phone us.

 

THE DETAILED PART OF THE REPORT
FOLLOWS WORKING FROM THE TOP
OF THE PROPERTY DOWNWARDS

From our investigations the property has been identified as falling within a
Conservation Area (your Legal Advisor should confirm this and make their own
enquiries) and as such it will require various permissions
to be obtained before work is carried out,
over and above that normally required.

General view of the street during a rare moment when there was not
any passing traffic.

EXTERNAL

CHIMNEY STACKS

Chimneys developed originally from open fires placed within buildings. From this, the chimney has developed to its present day format where it is used as an aesthetic feature and focal point rather than purely just to heat the room.

Chimneys
There are five chimneys to this property. Four to the main two storey property and one to the rear single storey property.

Main Roof - Front Right Hand Chimney

This chimney is brick built with a lead flashing which has been repaired with a bitumen paint.It has one chimney pot. From ground levelthere looks to have been various repairs and repointing, but this is fairly typical for a chimney of this age. We were unable to see the flaunchings and therefore cannot comment upon these.

View of the chimneys from the
rear of the property.


ACTION REQUIRED: The flashings are allowing a small amount of dampness into the property; they should be repaired/replaced.

 
Main Roof – Rear Right Hand Chimney
This chimney is also brick built with a lead flashing, which again has been repaired with bitumen paint. This chimney has two chimney pots. In this instance a fair amount of dampness is coming into the property in the bathroom, although it is not visible it was indicated on our damp meter. We also noted that the brick is spalling, this we believe is because a cement mortar has been used to repair it.

We found the timbers to be slightly damp;this is, we believe, due to condensationoccurring, as the roof is not adequatelyvented. Whilst there are vents to the eaves,these looked to have been blocked by theaddition of insulation. Also it would benormal practice to put vents at ridge level.

Bitumen to the base of the
rear right hand chimney.

ACTION REQUIRED: Replace/repair flashings as soon as possible.

 

We spoke to the owner about this and he advised that he was aware of both chimneys and it was simply the difficulty of the job that has been the reason why the work has not been carried out.

We are sure that if you have discussions with him the work can be carried out, in fact he indicated that he may get the work carried out by a tradesman that he knows.

Left Hand Chimneys

We will consider both these chimneys together. They were fairly difficult to view. They are both brick built with cement flashings. From what we could see there was plant growth around the base of the chimneys and the front chimney looked to block the water running off from the valley gutters. This photo shows the good side!
This photo shows the sides of both the left hand chimneys and the blocked valley gutter.

ACTION REQUIRED: The base of these chimneys needs to be looked at, the vegetation etc needs to be cleared from around the base and the flashings checked and the general condition of the chimneys checked.

ANTICIPATED COSTS: A few hundred pounds, depending upon the repairs required.

We feel that dampness may be getting into the property due to the position of the chimney and the fact that there is a stud wall and the dampness is hidden.

 

Single Storey Roof – Rear Chimney

This chimney is brick built with a lead flashing and single pot. There looked to be some cracking in the flaunching to the top and there has also been some repair to it, but generally we would say it is in reasonable condition for its age.

Spalling Defined

Spalling occurs to brick or stone when water penetrates the surface and via freezing and thawing starts to break the surface up. This in turn allows further water penetration and the surface breaks up further. This ultimately can lead to water damage or structural damage to the area.

Flaunchings Defined - Also known as Haunchings

A low, wide cement mortar fillet surrounding the flue terminal on top of the chimney stack to throw off rainwater.

Flashings Defined

Flashings prevent dampness from entering the property, usually at junctions where materials change. Such a junction is the one between the chimney and the roof.

Finally, we have made our best assumptions on the overall condition of the chimney stacks from the parts we could see. The inspection was made from ground level within the boundaries of the property (unless otherwise stated) using a x16 zoom lens on a digital camera. A closer inspection may reveal latent defects.

Please also see Chimney Breasts, Flues and Fireplaces Section of this Report.

ROOF COVERINGS AND UNDERLAYERS

 

The roof coverings and underlayers section considers the condition of the outer covering of the roof. Such coverings usually endure the extremes of climate and temperatures. They are susceptible to deterioration, which ultimately leads to water penetration.

The underfelts function is to prevent wind and minimise water damage. Dependent upon the age of your property this may or may not be present, please read on:

We will consider the roofs in two areas, the main high level roof and the rear low level roof.

Main High Level Roof

This roof is pitched and clad with a nibbed concrete tile. There are various valley gutters to the rear of this roof. Unfortunately we were only able to see approximately 20 percent of the roof from ground level via our ladder or via any other vantage point that we managed to gain. We have made our best conclusions based upon what we could see, however a closer inspection may reveal other defects.

As a general comment on the roofs as a whole, as viewed from ground level, the roof coverings showed nothing out of character for their age and type. There is some moss to the front of the roof, which can eventually block the gutters up.

Concrete tiles have been used for the past 40 or 50 years and are generally the cheapest alternative for roofing materials as they can be mass produced without compromising on quality, giving both a consistent size and quality.

The concrete tiles are nibbed tiles.

Nibbed Tiles Defined

A nibbed tile is one which has raised areas known as nibs, usually two in number, at the top of the tile to enable the tile to be fixed to the roof batten which, in turn, fixes to the roof structure.

Valley Gutters

Valley gutters are generally considered to be weak areas on a roof. The valley gutter is used where a roof changes direction. In this case there are three valley gutters we managed to access two of these with ladders, with the aid of the owner. The valleys were in reasonable condition, although we could not actually see the base of them in the majority of cases due to a layer of mulch that has built up. We discussed this with the owner who advised that he cleared them approximately once a year. We think this is essential to stop any future leaks and deterioration.

In this photo you can see where some repairs have taken place. We would suggest it may even be worth putting a roof light in here, so you could have access to the valley gutters without having to put a ladder up, which is very handy when they need unblocking.
This is a view of the best valley gutter, at valley gutter level.

Valley Gutter between your Roof and Next Door’s Roof

Unless this is sorted out we think there could be problems, if there are not already, with dampness into next door. This is a close up photo of the valley gutter, we think you can see from this what a difficult and awkward detail it is. We suggest that the lead is taken up the side of next door’s building to six inches, possibly more, to stop dampness getting in.

 

Roof Venting

Under current Building Regulations, it is a requirement to ventilate roofs to stop condensation, but this is not a retrospective requirement.

ACTION REQUIRED: In this instance we feel it is essential to add ventilation to the roof as it is presently causing condensation and we could see early signs of dry rot occurring (the cubing of the timber). It is therefore essential that this is halted.

Protective Underlayer (Often known as the sarking felt or underfelt)

From the 1940s onwards felts were used underneath tiles to stop wind damage and water penetration, these in more recent years have been replaced with plastic equivalents. These are commonly known as underfelts but now the name is not really appropriate as felt is not used as often.
When we inspected the roof space we found a Hessian/Bitumen sarking felt. This type of
sarking felt has been used since the 1960s. This was brittle, again indicating that condensation in the roof is occurring.

Rear Low Level Roofs

These roofs have been clad with man-made slates. These look similar to slates but are
made from reconstituted stone. This is bonded together in a similar manner to that used with chipboard. Its characteristics are that it sits very flat and is mechanically fixed and has an approximate life of 30 years. This all looked in reasonable condition.

Protective Underlayer

Unfortunately no access was possible to this area and therefore we cannot comment upon whether a felt has been used, or indeed the construction or condition of the roof structure.

Parapet Wall of Sorts

Where your roof abuts next door’s roof there is a tile on edge flashing. This could be allowing water into the roof as well and should be replaced with a lead flashing.

ACTION REQUIRED: As the present owner is intending to keep these buildings we suggest you negotiate with him to repair the entirety of this parapet wall using a lead flashing.

Finally, we managed to access the valley gutters, although not very easily and via a set of long ladders. We also viewed all roofs from ground level with the aid of a x16 zoom lens on a digital camera.
For further comments with regard to ventilation please see the Roof Structure and Loft Section.

ROOF STRUCTURE AND LOFT

(ALSO KNOWN AS ROOF SPACE OR ATTIC SPACE)

The roof structure or framework must be built in a manner which is able to give adequate strength to carry its own weight together with that of the roof covering discussed in the previous section and any superimposed loads such as snow, wind, foot traffic etc.

We will consider the roofs in two areas, the main roof and the rear roof, or one area to be exact, as we could not gain access to the rear roof.

Main Roof

The main roof is accessed via the loft hatch located in the dressing room. There was no loft ladder, it is very well lit, possibly the best lit roof we have ever been in (and we have been in a lot over the years) and it also has some secured floorboards. You may wish to add a loft ladder as this will make the roof space easier and safer to use.

This roof structure has what is known as a cut timber roof. This is a roof which is purpose made and hand built on site. Without the original design details we cannot categorically confirm that there are no defects; however it is in line with what we typically see. In this photo you can see the date of the roof etched in the wall (we resisted adding our name and the date at the bottom!).
We would comment that there is a mixture of some of the old timbers and some newer, but still old timbers, and some fairly new machine cut timbers. We found many of the timbers, if not most of them, damp to touch and some of them the timber crumbled in our hands when under pressure. However, the timbers passed our kick test (literally kicking the timbers) and therefore they still seem to have their structural integrity; in this age of roof the sheer mass of timbers is present as there was a general over designing of the roof (unlike today).

The dampness we believe is due to condensation occurring in the roof, as it does appear watertight.

ACTION REQUIRED: This roof needs venting and it needs to be carried out urgently. Only once the roof has been vented for six months to a year will it be possible to establish which timbers need replacing, if any.

Woodworm

In a property of this age we would expect woodworm, in fact we would be more concerned if there wasn’t any woodworm and it would mean that there was something wrong with the timber! The problem is identifying whether the woodworm is still active or not. The photo shows an example of the woodworm and rot in the timbers.

From what we could see we believe it is active, but we would add that it does take a lot of woodworm to cause structural damage to timber, so do not be overly concerned about this. You need to focus first of all on venting the roof and then at a later date we can establish the extent of the woodworm.

ANTICIPATED COSTS: For resolving the roof issues, we believe to add ventilation at ridge level and to open up the vents at the eaves would cost a few thousand pounds, depending on how the roof can be accessed and whether it needs scaffolding etc, and then some repair of the timber may be needed and possibly spraying of the roof.

We noted in the wall in grey in the render is a date of 1832, whilst we are usually dubious about these dates we do think this is genuine. An additional date, which is probably more relevant to the problems in the roof is 1949, that has be chalked on the wall as well, identifying that new battens were added then. Therefore we believe this is the date when the property was re-roofed with a concrete tile, without ventilation and the resulting problems. So you can see that this problem has taken 50-odd years to occur, which may put things into perspective.

 

Fire Walls

Firewalls help prevent the spread of fire through roofs and are a relatively recent Building Regulation requirement.

In this instance the firewall has a rendered finish.

Insulation

Please see the Thermal Efficiency Section of this report.

Water Tanks

This is located in the roof and is plastic, therefore relatively new. We noticed some dampness around it, possibly condensation has increased in this area due to the stored cold water.

Electric Cables

We can often identify the age of an electrical installation by the age of wiring found in the roof. In this case we did not see sufficient quantities of cabling for us to comment.

Metal Straps

We noted that parts of the roof had metal straps on them. These are usually used where joints have failed or are considered poor, to help hold the structure together. Due to the insulation it was very difficult to see exactly how extensive this was. We noted three metal straps, ironically we probably would not have noted these at all but for the excellent lighting within the roof space.

Rear Low Level Roof

As there was no access available to the rear roof structure, we cannot comment on its construction or condition. It is recommended that an access hatch be provided to facilitate inspection, maintenance and repair.

We would ask you to note that a general inspection of the roof timbers has been made, we have not examined every single timber because some parts of the roof are inaccessible and it is simply not practical.

Finally, we would ask you to note that this is a general inspection of the roof, i.e. we have not examined every single piece of timber. We have offered a general overview of the condition and structural integrity of the area.


GUTTERS AND DOWNPIPES

The function of the gutters and downpipes is to carry rainwater from the roof to the ground keeping the main structure as dry as possible.

Defective gutters and downpipes are a common cause of dampness that can, in turn, lead to the development of rot in timbers. Regular inspection and adequate maintenance are therefore essential if serious problems are to be avoided.

As it was not raining at the time of the inspection it is not possible to confirm 100 per cent that the rainwater installation is free from blockage, leakage etc. or that it is capable of coping with long periods of heavy rainfall.

From ground level the gutters and downpipes looked to be plastic and appeared in reasonable condition. Note the plant growth in the photo coming out of the gutter, no doubt the moss has fallen in and built up and they could do with a clean.

As a general comment plastic is susceptible to expansion and contraction during weather variations. This can lead to displacement of joints and subsequent leaking. Long term exposure to sunlight will also lead to brittleness. It is generally considered that plastic will have a life of approximately twenty years prior to replacement.

ACTION REQUIRED: We would always recommend that the rainwater goods are cleaned out, the joints are checked and the alignment checked to ensure that the gutters fall towards the downpipes.

Finally, gutters and downpipes have been inspected from ground level. As it was not raining at the time of the inspection it is not possible to confirm 100 per cent that the rainwater installation is free from blockage, leakage etc. or that it is capable of coping with long periods of heavy rainfall. Our comments have therefore been based on our best assumptions.

 

WALLS

External walls need to perform a variety of functions. These include supporting upper floors and the roof structure, resisting dampness, providing adequate thermal and sound insulation, offering resistance to fire and being aesthetically presentable.

The main property is brick finished and was originally built in a lime mortar but has been re-pointed in a cement mortar. It is all built in Flemish bond construction. There is some shiplap boarding to the rear of the property and also painted render areas.

Brickwork

The term "Flemish Bond pattern" relates to the way the bricks are bonded together and have a pattern visible from the outside of the property that shows the end of the brick (header), then the side of the brick (stretcher), then the end of the brick, then the side of the brick, and this pattern repeats course after course, i.e. header-stretcher, header-stretcher.

The reason we have termed this "Flemish Bond pattern", is because we are only able to see the outside view. In some instances, tradesmen would imitate this pattern with a single skin of brickwork, bonding a cheaper brick on the inside, thereby saving money/increasing profits and reducing structural integrity.

The solid external walls may be liable to penetrating dampness internally, dependent upon their condition and their exposure to the weather. External faces should be kept in good condition.

Before the 19th Century, the practice of building timbers into external walls was almost universal. These were known as bonding timbers. They are of course prone to rot as solid walls allow dampness through. Unfortunately, without opening up the structure, we are unable to confirm if this is the case.

Bonding Timbers Defined

These are timbers used in construction of walls usually using a lime mortar construction. Bonding timbers are used horizontally and add strength to the wall enabling additional lifts of brickwork.

Generally Flemish Bond brickwork is liable to penetrating dampness internally, dependent upon the condition of the brickwork and the exposure to the weather. In this case the pointing is generally in good condition. It is essential that external faces are kept in good condition.

Vertical Crack to Right Hand Front Corner

There is a vertical join in the wall. We do not believe this is caused by movement, but we cannot be certain without monitoring it. There is no obvious reason for it; possibly the joist ends at floor level have rotted and are not giving lateral restraint anymore but this seems unlikely from the feel of the floor when we walked on it.

It was fashionable in days gone by to literally change the front of your property as fashions changed. This is what may have occurred here, where a Victorian shop frontage has been added, resulting in the vertical joint running down the side of the property.

Lime Every Time

Unfortunately the re-pointing, whilst well meaning, is not appropriate for this type of construction. A cement mortar has been used rather than a lime based mortar. We recommend you use lime mortar in any future repairs regardless of what the builders say! Using lime mortar will limit further damage to the brickwork, which is almost impossible to repair successfully.

ACTION REQUIRED: Some minor re-pointing is required. When repointing is carried out we recommend a lime mortar be used, although there is a fair bit of life left in the existing pointings.

Lime Mortar Defined

A mix used to bed bricks upon; its characteristics being that it flexes and moves with the structure. It was used up to the War years.

Cement Mortar Defined

A sand cement mix used commonly in brick houses from about the First World War onwards and is relatively strong and brittle and therefore does not allow much movement.

Render

There is some render to the rear of the property, which is painted and looked as ‘new’. This could in theory be hiding some defects, we simply do not have any way of telling from a visual inspection. We did note the odd hairline crack in it. The photo shows a vertical hairline crack.

Render Defined

A sand and cement external coating applied in two or three coats or layers.

Lintels

Where the window and door lintels are concealed by brickwork, shiplap boarding, render and plasterwork, we cannot comment on their construction or condition. In buildings of this age timber lintels, concrete lintels or metal lintels are common which can be susceptible to deterioration which is unseen particularly if in contact with dampness.

Finally, the external walls have been inspected visually from ground level and/or randomly via a ladder. Where the window and door lintels are concealed by brickwork and render we cannot comment on their constructionor condition. In buildings of this age timber lintels, concrete lintels, rubbed brick lintels, stone lintels or metal lintels are common, which can be susceptible to deterioration that is unseen, particularly if in contact with dampness.

Our comments have been based upon how the brickwork and render has been finished. We have made various assumptions based upon what we could see and how we think the brickwork and render would be if it were opened up for this age, style and type of construction. We are however aware that all is not always at it seems in the building industry and often short cuts are taken. Without opening up the structure we have no way of establishing this.

FOUNDATIONS

The foundations function, if suitably designed and constructed, is to transfer the dead or superimposed load through the soil so it can suitably carry the loads. Many properties prior to the 19th Century have little or not foundations, as we now think of them, with a minimum depth of around one metre filled with concrete.

Typically, with a property of this period, we would expect to find a stepped brick foundation, approximately 0.5 metre deep. This may have been laid upon a bed of cement, but this would have been unusual.

Where the cellar is the foundation depth is obviously deeper and it is unlikely to be in brickwork as we noted in the cellar that knapped flint (which means cut flint) has been used and rag stone.

We have inspected the walls for any signs of moment and found, as mentioned earlier, there is movement to the front of the wall, please see our comments in the Walls Section of this Report. All other movement we felt was in line with this age of property.

Building Insurance Policy

You should ensure that the Building Insurance Policy contains adequate provision against any possibility of damage arising through subsidence, landslip, heave etc.

Finally, no examination has been made of any foundation to the building because to do so requires extensive excavation. We therefore cannot confirm 100 per cent the stability of the walls the foundations support but we have drawn conclusions from the surface evidence available at the time of the inspection and our general knowledge of this type of construction.

Likewise, we cannot comment upon how the foundations are constructed, we can only offer you our best assumptions, which we duly have done.

 

TREES

There are no trees within influencing distance of the main house.

Influencing Distance Defined

This is the distance in which a tree may be able to cause damage to the subject property.

Please also refer to the External Areas Section.

 

DAMP PROOF COURSE

The Building Act of 1878 required a damp proof course to be added to all newly built properties within the London area. It also required various other basic standards. These requirements were gradually taken up (or should that be grudgingly taken up) throughout London and then the country as a whole, although this took many for it to become standard practice.

All modern properties should incorporate a damp proof course (DPC) to minimise dampness. Good building practice dictates that a differential of 150mm (6 inches) should be maintained between the damp proof course and ground levels. In this case, we did not note a damp proof course, although it is possible that one is there in some parts of the property. Dampness was found to the front of the property, your attention is drawn to the section of the report specifically dealing with dampness.

Finally, sometimes it is difficult for us to identify if there is a damp proof course in a property. We have made our best assumptions based upon our general knowledge of the age, type and style of this property.

 

AIRBRICKS

In properties with suspended floors you need to have an airflow beneath to stop deterioration. The air is allowed to pass under the property by the use of airbricks. Generally the rule of thumb is that airbricks are spaced every metre and a half approximately, but this depends upon the specific circumstances of the property.

Air vents are added into older properties to vent the floors or cellars. Air vents can be seen from the outside of this property beneath the shop front. These provide sub-floor ventilation to discourage rot. They need to be positioned to allow a through flow of air under the property. In this case they go into the cellar area.

We believe there may be a small area of suspended timber floor to the right hand side that has not got any ventilation underneath it. If you carry out the re-pointing work mentioned earlier, in lime mortar, this should help the area to disperse any dampness and therefore reduce the need for airbricks.

Finally, we have made our best assumptions based upon our visual inspection of the outside of the property and our general knowledge of this age, type and style of construction. We have not opened up the floor, unless we have specifically stated so in this section.

 

EXTERNAL JOINERY

The external joinery part of this section covers windows, doors, fascias and soffits and any detailing such as brick corbelling etc.

Windows primary functions are to admit light and air, but they also have thermal and sound properties. The doors allow access and egress within the property. Another element of external joinery is the fascias and soffits. These offer protection to the rafter feet and also allow the securing of guttering.

Fascias and Soffits

Due to the design of the main property it only has fascia boards, which are hidden behind the guttering in this instance and therefore we could not see it, although it is common for this type of detail to have some deterioration to the timber.

What we could see to the rear extension needed redecoration and possibly some repair.

 

Windows

Sliding Sash Windows

This property predominantly has sliding sash timber windows. We were advised by the owner that these have been replaced in many cases by a company that is well known ‘Copy Cat’. We opened a random selection and these were in reasonable order.

 


If you have not lived in a property with sliding sash windows previously, you should be aware that typically they are draughty and rattle. There is no easy way to eliminate this problem. In our experience, a general ease and adjustment of the windows and the addition of a plastic tube draught sealer (available from most DIY stores) and regular redecoration is the best option to minimise the draughtiness of the windows in this case.

Horizontal Sash windows

We also noted to the side of the property some horizontal sliding sash windows. These were the older style of window that was used. Again, they looked in reasonable condition although they look also to have received a new coat of paint, which could be hiding latent defects.

Casement Style Windows

To the rear of the property there are newer casement style windows, which again looked in reasonable condition.

Doors

Shop Front

We thought the timber shop front was particularly nice.

Finally, we have carried out a general and random inspection of the external joinery. In the case of the fascias and soffits it is typically a visual inspection from ground level. With the windows and doors we have usually opened a random selection of these during the course of the survey. In this section we are aiming to give a general overview of the condition of the external joinery. Please also see the Internal Joinery section.

EXTERNAL DECORATIONS

The external decorations act as a protective coat for the building from the elements. Where this protective covering has failed, such as with flaking paintwork, the elements will infiltrate the structure. This is of particular concern as water is one of the major factors in damage to any structure.

In this case, in this case generally all looked in reasonable condition, although we would add that you should not underestimate the time involved in painting sliding sash windows, particularly if you still want them to slide.

Also, do not estimate the time it will take to re-paint the front of the property and the render to the rear.

During our question and answer session the present owner advised that the external of the property was painted approximately one year ago. We believe that fairly regular painting will be required due to the general dirt and dust caused by the fast moving traffic that passes the property.

Finally, ideally external redecoration is recommended every four to five years dependent upon the original age of the paint, its exposure to the elements and the materials properties. Where painting takes place outside this maintenance cycle repairs should be expected. Ideally redecoration should be carried out during the better weather between mid-April and mid-September.

Please see our comments in the External Joinery section.

 

INTERNAL
CEILINGS, WALLS, PARTITIONS AND FINISHES

In this section we look at the finish applied to the structural elements such as the plasterwork applied to the ceiling joists, walls or partitions, together with the construction of the internal walls and partitions.

Ceilings

From within the roof space we could identify the ceilings as being formed in a mixture of lath and plaster and plasterboard.

We noted hairline cracking to the ceiling, we believe this relates to movementbetween the plasterboard that has been used to form the ceiling. This is fairly typical for this type of construction where a mixture of construction materials and types have been used, which is more or less inevitable with this age of property, although not necessarily desirable; for example in the rear left hand bedroom.

Lath and Plaster Defined

Laths are thin strips of timbers which are fixed to the structure. Wet plaster is applied to the laths, usually in several layers. The plaster forms a key as it is forced between the laths. This plaster, once dry, is given further coats and often a decorative finish.

Common defects with this type of plastering are that the laths are placed too close together or too far apart therefore the plaster cannot form a key. It can also deteriorate due to dampness within the structure, general vibrations, structural movement and age.

 

Without lifting all the roof insulation, we cannot be certain of its condition.

Plasterwork from the pre-1930s was usually made of lime, sand and very little cement if any, and incorporated Ox, horse, cow or goat hair to strengthen the finish. Failure can arise for many reasons. As we have not opened up the ceiling or walls, we cannot express an opinion as to how long they are likely to last.

Timber Beam

Within the front commercial section you have a mixture of timber beams and joists. We really are not certain whether these are original, however they do make a nice feature.

Internal Walls and Partitions

We have carried out a tap test to the internal walls (this is not rocket science, it is literally tapping the walls and listening for the sound made) and found them to be hollow. This means that they are likely to be formed of a studwork and you may have some noise transfer between rooms.

Generally internal walls are finished with a plaster and decorated. Without the removal of the plaster or decorative finish we cannot be 100 per cent certain of the construction but we believe it to be a mixture of the original lime based plaster and more modern Carlite plaster.

During our question and answer session with the present owners he advised that he had re-plastered many of the walls. We believe he was referring to the perimeter walls.

We noted that structural alterations have been carried out in various areas, such as the lounge where the external wall had been removed. Such works should have been completed to the satisfaction of the Local Authority Building Inspector in accordance with the requirements of the Building Regulations.

ACTION REQUIRED: Your Legal Advisor should confirm that this is the case. If no Consent has een granted, further investigation is necessary to establish whether the work has been carried out to a satisfactory standard.

Again, we spoke with the present owner during our question and answer session who advised that he had used a friendly engineer to do the calculation, therefore we think this also implies that you are unlikely to find any written evidence of what has been carried out. We have therefore done our best in the circumstances and would comment that we could see no stress fractures to either end of the load bearing points on the wall.

Finally, ceilings, walls and partitions have been inspected from floor level and no opening up has been undertaken (unless permission has been obtained by yourselves). In some cases the materials employed cannot be ascertained without samples being taken and damage being caused.

We cannot comment upon the condition of the structure hidden behind plaster, dry lining, other applied finishes, heavy furniture, fittings and kitchen units with fitted back panels.

 

CHIMNEY BREASTS, FLUES AND FIREPLACES

With the advent of central heating fireplaces tend to be more a feature than an essential function in most properties.

At the time of the survey no chimneys were in use. Any chimneys that you do not propose to use should be capped and ventilated to prevent dampness.

The right hand chimneys followed through into the bathroom and the front room the rear chimney then followed through into the kitchen. The left hand chimneys followed through in the adjoining property, but there is a fireplace in the commercial area and also in the rear lounge.

The front right hand chimney we believe has been terminated at first floor level, in all honesty it was very difficult to follow the line of the chimneys through on this side.

Finally, it is strongly recommended that flues be cleaned and checked for obstruction prior to use to minimise the risk of hazardous fumes entering the building.

Please also see the Chimney Stacks, Flues and Parapet Walls section of this Report.

 

FLOORS

Functionally floors should be capable of withstanding appropriate loading, preventing dampness, have thermal properties and durability. In addition to this upper floors should offer support for ceilings, resistance to fire and resistance to sound transfer.

No exposure was carried out due to the restrictions of fitted carpets, floor coverings etc. The comments are based upon our experience and knowledge of this type of construction.

Ground Floor

This is a mixture of a suspended timber floor over the cellar and to the front of the property and a concrete floor (assumed) to the rear of the property.

Suspended Timber Floor Construction Defined

A suspended timber floor usually consists of timbers spanning the ground floor, supported on piers (usually brickwork), vented via air bricks within the walls.

The floors felt solid and firm underfoot so we have assumed they are formed in concrete, we have not accessed the floor.

 

First Floor

We assume that the first floor construction was joist and floorboard.

Joist and Floorboard Construction Defined

These are usually at first floor level consisting of a joist supported from the external walls, either built in or, in more modern times, sitting upon joist hangers, sometimes taking additional support from internal walls, with floorboards fixed down upon it.

 

No floorboards were lifted. The floor was not accessed.

Finally, we have not been able to view the actual floors themselves due to them being covered with fitted carpets, floor coverings, laminated flooring etc. The comments we have made are based upon our experience and knowledge of this type of construction. We would emphasise that we have not opened up the floors in any way or lifted any floorboards.

 

DAMPNESS

In this section we look at any problems that are being caused by dampness. It is therefore essential to diagnose the source of the dampness and to treat the actual cause as there are also other sources of dampness such as condensation, which may inadvertently by the inexperienced eye be considered to be lateral dampness or rising damp.

Rising Damp

Rising damp depends upon various components including the porosity of the structure, the supply of water and the rate of evaporation of the material, amongst other things. Rising damp can come from the ground, drawn by capillary action, to varying degrees of intensity and height into the materials above.

Tests were taken with a moisture meter at random points to internal wall surfaces. The readings obtained indicate that dampness is present in the front walls.

 

ACTION REQUIRED: You should instruct a qualified and experienced contractor issuing a long-term insurance backed guarantee to carry out a quotation on the property, which should be forwarded to us for comment, and to implement all necessary remedial works. In conjunction with the above, damp affected plaster should be replaced in accordance with the specifications of the specialist contractor. Failure to do so may nullify the validity of the guarantee.

As a general note, we would point out that timbers in contact with dampness such as the floor joists are prone to rot. We were in the fortunate position of being able to examine these from within the cellar and we did find a fairamount of dampness. Whilst this is not unusual we could see from the different ages of the timbers that in the past some have been replaced and in the future you will also have to do the same.

Effective testing was prevented in areas concealed by heavy furniture, fixtures such as kitchen fittings with back boards, and wall tiles etc.

Lateral or Penetrating Dampness

This is where water ingress occurs through the walls. This can be for various reasons such as poor pointing or wall materials or inadequate gutters and downpipes, such as poorly jointed gutters.

Tests were taken with a moisture meter at random points to internal walls, floors and other surfaces. No evidence of any significant penetrating/lateral dampness was detected.

Condensation

With regard to the living areas we can see no obvious signs of condensation, however, it depends upon how you utilise the building. If you do your washing and then dry it in a room without opening a window you will, of course, get condensation. Common sense is needed and a balance between heating and ventilation of properties. Normally opening windows first thing in the morning resolves most condensation issues.

Please refer to our comments in the Roof Structure Section of this Report.

Finally, effective testing was prevented in areas concealed by heavy furniture, fixtures such as kitchen fittings with backboards, wall tiles and wall panelling. We have not carried out tests to BRE Digest 245, but only carried out a visual inspection.

 

INTERNAL JOINERY

This section looks at the doors, the stairway, the skirting boards and the kitchen to give a general overview of the internal joinery’s condition.

Doors

The property has stripped timber doors, which are popular in this age of property. We particularly liked the ironmongery.

Staircase

You have a staircase up to the first floor and one into the cellar. The staircase into the cellar certainly would not meet current Building Regulation requirements, where a maximum angle of 38 degrees is required! Care should be taken on these steps.

 

We noted in the underside of the timbers some woodworm, as we would expect in this age of property. Again, the real question is, is the woodworm active? We could not see any obvious signs of it being active in this instance. We did look for frass (the chewed sawdust produced by the woodworm) and could not see any, but then again with the stairs in constant use it could displace this.

Skirtings

There are four to six inch skirtings throughout. We noticed a marbling effect on one of the skirtings which worked well.

Kitchen

The Kitchen looks in reasonable order, although no doubt it has suffered from some day to day wear and tear as one should expect. We have not tested the kitchen equipment as we are not qualified to do so.

Finally, it should be noted that not all joinery has been inspected. We have viewed a random sample and visually inspected these to give a general overview of the condition. Please also see the External Joinery/Detailing section.


TIMBER DEFECTS

This section considers dry rot, wet rot and woodworm. Wet and Dry rot are species of fungi, both need moisture to develop and both can be very expensive to correct. We would also add that in our experience they are also often wrongly diagnosed.

Dry Rot

Dry rot is also sometimes known by its Latin name Serpula lacrymans. Dry rot requires constant dampness together with a warmish atmosphere and can lead to extensive decay in timber.

In the areas inspected there was not dry rot found. However, the situation is present in the roof where dry rot could occur and may be in the early stages. We noted some cubing of the timber, this is literally cube shapes forming within the timber, which is a sign of wet rot/dry rot decay.

Wet Rot

Wet rot, also known by its Latin name Contiophora puteana, is far more common than dry rot. Wet rot darkens and softens the wood and is most commonly seen in window and doorframes, where it can relatively easily be remedied. Where wet rot affects the structural timbers in a property, which are those in the roof and the floor areas, it is more serious.

The timbers within the roof are damp, we believe from condensation, which is caused by lack of airflow to the roof. Whilst this is a very slow degrading of the timbers, as mentioned elsewhere within this report we feel that ventilation should be added to allow the timbers to dry out. The timbers were soft to touch in many instances, giving a slightly spongy feel.

As already mentioned we have also identified dampness in the floor joists, particularly to the front of the property, this is not unusual in this age and type of construction. You do need to be made aware of it and understand that in the long term some repairs will be required.

Woodworm

Active woodworm can cause significant damage to timber. There are a variety of woodworm that cause different levels of damage with probably the worst of the most well known being the Death Watch Beetle. Many older properties have woodworm that is no longer active, this can often be considered as part of the overall character of the property.

The roof is the main area that we look for woodworm. Within the roof we found no obvious visual signs of woodworm activity or indeed signs of past woodworm activity that has caused what we would term ‘structurally significant’ damage. In many properties there is an element of woodworm that is not active. Our inspection is usually restricted by insulation covering some of the timbers and general stored items in the roof, as it is restricted throughout the property by general fixtures and fittings. If you wish to be 100 per cent certain that there is no woodworm the only way would be to check the property when is emptied of fixtures and fittings etc.

ACTION REQUIRED: When you have the damp proof company come round they will usually also be a woodworm treatment company and we suggest you ask them to quote for this at the same time. Their quotation needs to be read very carefully to see if it includes the word ‘active’ woodworm. We would gladly comment upon it if you wish to forward a copy to our office.

Finally, when you move into the property, floor surfaces should be carefully examined for any signs of insect infestation when furniture and floor coverings are removed together with stored goods. Any signs that are found should be treated to prevent it spreading. However, you need to be aware that many damp and woodworm treatment companies have a vested interest in selling their products and therefore have fairly cleverly worded quotations where they do not state if the woodworm they have found is ‘active’. You should ask them specifically if the woodworm is active or not.

We would also comment that any work carried out should have an insurance backed guarantee to ensure that if the company does not exist, or for whatever reason, the guarantee is still valid. More importantly it is essential to ensure that any work carried out is carried out correctly.


INTERNAL DECORATIONS
 

With paints it should be remembered that up to 1992 lead could be used within paint and prior to this most textured paints (commonly known as Artex) contained an element of asbestos up to 1984, so care should be taken if the paintwork looks old and dated.

You may wish to redecorate to your own personal taste. It is very difficult to advise on how frequently redecoration should take place. This very much depends upon the use and abuse the decoration gets, for example, within hallways this tends to be greater than for example within a spare bedroom.

We feel that the present owners have an eye for interior design and have made the property look its best. It will look very different when the furniture is removed.

Finally, we would draw your attention to the fact that removal of existing decorative finishes may cause damage to the underlying plasterwork necessitating repairs and making good prior to redecoration.


CELLARS

Cellars and vaults tend to be found in older properties and offer a useful space, although usually they are dam, unless some treatment has taken place such as the tanking of the walls, which is a liming process, or an external damp proofing membrane of some type has been added, or if internally the walls have been lined, therefore hiding the damp. Cellars are often susceptible to flooding from excessive rain, rising water table levels or even blocked drains.

Take care on the stairs as you go down into the cellar, then watch your head due to the low ceiling.

The front of the cellar is formed with a knapped flint wall and the rear is formed with a rag stone, indicating an earlier construction possibly.

When we go into a cellar we expect there to be dampness and it is just the extent of this and also the dangers if it floods when it rains. We noted damp areas around the ventilation section, which means that when it rains water can get in.

We were unable to find a sump. This means that should the cellar floor, the removal of water may be difficult. A sump is a low area within the cellar where the water would gather and often incorporates a sump pump to remove the water.

The cellar is very much as we would expect for this are and type of property. Due to dampness usually found within the cellars, we would recommend that only non-perishable goods are stored in this area.

Finally, we have made a visual inspection of the cellar/vault only and have no way of knowing what the construction is without opening up the structure.


THERMAL EFFICIENCY

Up until the mid 1940s we did not really consider insulation in properties, for example it was only in the 1960s that we started putting insulation in the roof and then it was about 50mm, in the 1970s this was upgraded to 100mm. Then we started to think about double glazing and cavity wall insulation. Since then insulation standards have increased considerably and today we are looking at typically using insulation not only in the roof but also in the walls, floors and windows and more recently considerable work has been carried out on how efficient boilers are within properties. Care has to be taken that properties are not insulted disproportionately to the ventilation as this can cause condensation and you should be aware that you need to ventilate any property that is insulated.

It is very difficult to comment upon thermal efficiencies in a building of this age and type. For example, many requirements of present Building Regulations, which cover thermal efficiency would not be appropriate to this type of structure as they are designed for modern buildings, which are constructed to different standards.

We would, however, comment as follows:-

Roofs

Some roof insulation was present although not to current Building Regulations requirements of 200mm. We would not be overly concerned about this as we typically find in roofs between 100mm – 150mm of insulation. In this instance we found approximately 150mm.

Walls

The walls to this property are solid. It is very difficult to improve thermal efficiency in solid wall construction without major alterations. These will usually affect the external appearance or reduce the internal space.

Windows

The windows are a mixture of single and double glazed and therefore there is an acceptable level of thermal efficiency for this age of property.

Services

Service records should be obtained. It is essential for the services to be regularly maintained to run efficiently.

Summary

This property has average thermal efficiency compared with properties that we typically see of this type and age.

We would advise that an energy rating is likely to be required for future house sales.

Further information can be obtained with regard to energy saving via the Internet on the following pages:-

HTTP//www.est.org.uk which is by the Energy Saving Trust and includes a section on grant aid.

or alternatively www.cat.org.uk

or www.ecocentre.org.uk for an alternative technological view.



OTHER MATTERS

In this section we put any other matters that do not fit under our usual headings

Security

A security system has been installed though as a matter of policy we do not comment on its layout and efficiency. Further information should be obtained from the vendor and the installer at a later date.

Smoke Alarms/ Fire Alarms

We are advised that there is a wired in smoke/fire alarm system, we have not checked this.

Insurance

We would always recommend staying with the existing insurance company, then if there are any problems you should not have the difficulty of negotiating with two insurance companies passing the blame between each other.

SERVICES

This survey does not include any specialist reports on the electricity supply and circuits, heating or drainage as they were not requested. The comments that follow are based upon a visual inspection carried out as part of the overall Building Survey.

Services and specialist installations have been visually inspected. It is impossible to examine every detail of these installations without partially dismantling the structure. Tests have not been applied. Conclusive tests can only be undertaken by suitably qualified contractors. The vendor should be requested to provide copies of any service records, test certificates and, ideally, the names and addresses of the installing contractors.

 

ELECTRICITY

It is strange to think that electricity only started to be used in domestic properties at the turn of the last century with gas lighting still being the norm for a good many years after.

The electric consumer units and fuse board are located in the cellar. We were advised that the property was fully re-wired some nine years ago. We spoke during our question and answer session with the owner who advised that he was not sure whether a certificate was provided and in fact commented that they were not needed back then, which is incorrect.

Visible wiring and fittings are of a modern type.

ACTION REQUIRED: If there is no record of an electrical test having been undertaken within the last five years, it is recommended that the installation be tested by a competent electrician (NICEIC registered) and all recommendations implemented. Thereafter, the installation should be re-tested every five years.

 

GAS

There is very little we can check for in a gas installation, we do inspect to make sure there is one and that it has a consumer unit and that the boilers are vented. Ideally you should have a service inspection carried out by an independent CORGI registered plumber.

The gas consumer unit is located in the cellar and is a modern style. All gas appliances, pipework and flues should be the subject of an annual service by a competent engineer, i.e., a member of CORGI (the Council of Registered Gas Installers); works to gas appliances etc., by unqualified personnel is illegal. Unless evidence can be provided to confirm that there has been annual servicing we would recommend that you commission such a service prior to use to ensure safe and efficient operation.

ACTION REQUIRED: As a matter of course it is recommended that the entire gas installation is inspected and made good, as necessary, by a CORGI registered contractor. Thereafter the installation should be serviced annually.

 

PLUMBING AND HEATING

In this section we do our best from a visual inspection to look at how the water is supplied to the property, how the supply is distributed around the property, how it is used to heat the property and how it is discharged from the property.

Water Supply

We were advised that the controlling stopcock is located in the cellar. It is important that its presence is established in case of bursts or leaks. The stopcock and other controlling valves have not been inspected or tested for operational effectiveness.

It should be noted that the supply pipe from the Water Company stopcock to the internal stop tap is the responsibility of the property owner.

We cannot comment on the condition of the water service pipe to the building. It should be appreciated that leaks can occur for some time before signs are apparent on the surface.

Water Pressure

When the taps were run to carry out the drainage test we checked the pressure literally by putting a finger over the tap and this seemed reasonable.

The Water Board have to guarantee a certain pressure of water to ensure that things like boilers, particularly the instantaneous ones have a constant supply of pressured water (they would blow up if they didn’t!).

Plumbing

The plumbing, where visible, comprises copper pipework. No significant leakage was noted on the surface, although most of the pipework is concealed in ducts and floors.

Heating

Our limited inspection of the hot water and central heating system revealed no evidence to suggest any serious defects but we would nevertheless recommend that the system be tested and overhauled before exchange of contracts and that a regular maintenance contract be placed with an approved heating engineer.

Soil and Vent Pipe

There is a soil and vent pipe to the rear right hand side (all directions given as you face the property) and there are also some flues to the low level roof.

Finally, it should be noted that the supply pipe from the Water Company stopcock to the internal stop tap is the responsibility of the property owner.

We cannot comment on the condition of the water service pipe to the building. It should be appreciated that leaks can occur for some time before signs are apparent on the surface.

 

BATHROOM

In this section we consider the overall condition of the sanitary fittings such as the bathroom, the kitchen, the utility room and the cloakroom.

The bathroom is very luxurious. It is a four piece bathroom suite plus a shower and is all as ‘new’.

Finally, although we may have already mentioned it above we would reiterate that it is important to ensure that seals are properly made and maintained at the junctions between wall surfaces and baths and showers etc. We normally recommend that it is one of the first jobs that you carry out as part of your DIY on the property, as water getting behind sanitary fittings can lead to unseen deterioration that can be costly, inconvenient and difficult to repair.


MAIN DRAINS

The sanitary system, as we know it now, came into being some 100 years ago during the Victorian era and works so successfully today it is often taken for granted. It is only in recent years that re-investment has taken place to upgrade the original drainage systems.

It is assumed that the foul drains from the property discharge into a public sewer; this should be confirmed by your Legal Advisor prior to exchange of contracts, who should also provide information in respect of any common or shared drains including liability for the maintenance and upkeep of the same.

The cold taps have been run for approximately half an hour in the bathroom and kitchen without any build up or back up.

Manholes

For your information, manholes are required to be provided in the current Building Regulations at each change of direction or where drainage runs join the main run.

There are two manholes on the right hand side of the property.

Manhole One – Located near the Entrance

We were unable to lift the first manhole located near the entrance.

Manhole Two

We did manage to lift the second manhole and this was free flowing at the time of our inspection. It was built with concrete rings.

We have only undertaken a visual inspection of the property’s foul drains by lifting covers and running water from the sanitary fittings within the house.

It must be emphasised that the condition of the property’s foul drains can only be ascertained by the carrying out of a test; such a test has not been undertaken. Should there be leaks in the vicinity of the building then problems could occur, particularly with respect to the stability of the building’s foundations. Drainage repairs are inevitably costly and may result in damage being caused to those areas of the property beneath, or adjacent to, which the drains have been run.

Rainwater/Surface Water Drainage

We have been unable to determine the ultimate means of rain/surface water disposal. In a property of this age it is likely to discharge into the main drains.

Rain/surface water drains have not been tested and their condition or effectiveness is not known. Similarly, the adequacy of soak-aways has not been established although you are advised that they tend to silt up and become less effective with time.

Please also see our comments within the Rainwater Goods section.

Finally, rain/surface water drains have not been tested and their condition or effectiveness is not known. Similarly, the adequacy of soak-aways has not been established although you are advised that they tend to silt up and become
less effective with time.

Please also see our comments within the Gutters and Downpipes section.

 

OUTSIDE AREAS

GARAGES/OUTBUILDINGS

There are no garages or outbuildings, as far as we have been advised.

EXTERNAL AREAS

Boundaries

The boundaries are formed with a one brick wide wall of approximately two meters in height. The boundary being rounded as opposed to the usual squared off shape. The front boundary we assume aligns with the public footpath.

Whilst we note the boundaries, these may not be the legal boundaries. Your Legal Advisor should make further enquiries on this point and advise you of your potential liability with regard to any shared structures, boundary walls
and fences.

The left hand boundary is usually the responsibility of the subject property.

POINTS FOR YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR

If you wish to proceed with your purchase of the property a copy of this should be orwarded to your Legal Advisor and the following
points should be checked by him/her:-

a) Responsibility for boundaries.

b) Rights for you to enter onto the adjacent property to maintain any structure situated near or on the boundary and any similar rights your neighbour may have to enter onto your property.

c) Obtain any certificates, guarantees or approvals in relation to:

i) Timber treatments, wet or dry rot infestations.
ii) Rising damp treatments.
iii) Double glazing replacement windows.
iv) Roof and similar renewals.
v) Central heating installation.
vi) Planning and Building Regulation Approvals.
vii) Any other matters pertinent to the property.

d) Confirm that there are no defects in the legal Title in respect of the property and all rights associated therewith, e.g., access.

e) Rights of Way e.g., access, easements and wayleaves.

f) Liabilities in connection with shared services.

g) Adjoining roads and services.

h) Road Schemes/Road Widening.

i) General development proposals in the locality.

j) Conservation Area, Listed Building, Tree Preservation Orders or any other Designated Planning Area.

k) Confirm from enquiries that no underground tunnels, wells, sewers, gases, mining, minerals, site reclamation/contamination etc., exist, have existed or are likely to exist beneath the curtilage of the site upon which the property stands and which could affect the quiet enjoyment, safety or stability of the property, outbuildings or surrounding areas.

l) Our Report assumes that the site has not been put to contaminative use and no investigations have been made in this respect.

m) Any outstanding Party Wall Notice or of the knowledge that any are about to be served.

n) We strongly recommend that Envirosearch or a similar product is used by your Legal Advisor to establish whether this area falls within a flood plain, old landfill site, radon area etc., and brought to its logical conclusion. If your Legal Advisor is not aware of the system please ensure that they contact us and we will advise them of it.

 

POINTS FOR YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR

From our investigations the property has not been identified as being Listed, however it does fall within a Conservation Area.

Your Legal Advisor should confirm the above and carry out any searches he/she feels are necessary.

PLANNING AND BUILDING CONTROL

Planning and Building Control

We have made verbal enquiries of the xxxx Borough Council regarding Planning and Building Control. We have been advised that the following planning applications have been made:

19xx Conversion of Barn to two storey dwelling - Rejected
19xx Conversion of Barn to two storey dwelling - Rejected
19xx Single storey extension to rear of property - Approved
20xx Conversion of Barn to two storey dwelling - Ongoing - No current
decision

With regard to Building Regulations we were informed that in 19xx the single storey extension to the rear was approved.

This information was confirmed by xxxxx on xxxxxxxxxx at 12.15pm.

Your Legal Advisor should confirm this and carry out any checks he/she feels necessary.

Finally, an extract from the book “Sold”!

When you receive your full structural survey (now known as a Building Survey) or House Buyers Report, do remember that you have requested a list of the property’s faults so it is unlikely to make cheerful reading. Every property has its faults but what you are looking for are the serious ones. If your Report does reveal a serious problem that you had not anticipated when making your offer, the first thing to do is to decide whether you want to take on the repairs if an adjustment is made to the price. If you do, then get quotes for the work as quickly as possible and present your case in a fair manner. Most people are reasonable under such circumstances and will compromise but inevitably there are those who are sufficiently confident of their position to say take it or leave it. In a very active market, prices may have moved up sufficiently to cover the extra expenditure in theory and the vendor will not hasten to point this out but remember that he has probably got a vendor pressing him to proceed quickly and starting with a new purchaser will cause him delay”

It is our policy not to offer a conclusion to ensure that the Building Survey is read in full and the comments are taken in context.

If you would like any further advice on any of the issues discussed or indeed any that have not been discussed! Please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 298 5424.

For and on Behalf of

GEM Associates Ltd
Chartered Surveyors

This Report is dated: xxxxxxx

 

REFERENCES

The repair and maintenance of houses
Published by Estates Gazette Limited

Life expectancies of building components
Published by Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and
Building Research Establishment

Surveying buildings
By Malcolm Hollis 4th edition published by Royal Institution of
Chartered Surveyors Books.

House Builders Bible
By Mark Brinkley, Published by Burlington Press

 

APPENDICES

 

LIMITATIONS

Our limitations are as the agreed Terms and Conditions of Engagement.

CONDITIONS OF ENGAGEMENT

The report has been prepared in accordance with our Conditions of Engagement dated xxxxx and should be regarded as a comment on the overall condition of the property and the quality of its structure and not as an inventory of every single defect. It relates to those parts of the property that were reasonably and safely accessible at the time of the inspection, but you should be aware that defects can subsequently develop particularly if you do not follow the recommendations.

ENGLISH LAW

We would remind you that this report should not be published or reproduced in any way without the surveyor’s expressed permission and is governed by English Law and any dispute arising there from shall be adjudicated upon only by the English Courts.

SOLE USE

This report is for the sole use of the named Client and is confidential to the Client and his professional advisors. Any other persons rely on the Report at their own risk.

ONLY HUMAN!

Although we are pointing out the obvious, our Surveyors obviously can’t see through walls, floors, heavy furniture, fixed kitchen units etc. they have therefore made their best assumptions in these areas.

As this is a one off inspection, we cannot guarantee that there are no other defects than those mentioned in the report and also that defects can subsequently develop.

WEATHER

The weather was mixed, but generally sunny at the time of the inspection. The weather did not hamper the survey.

We would add that some defects only become apparent upon physical occupation or are only present as a result of the extremes of weather (which are becoming a more frequent occurrence). As you are probably aware the year 2000 was the wettest year on record and 2003 the driest year on records, this may have adverse effects on lots of buildings in years to come.

NOT LOCAL

It should be noted that we are not local surveyors to this area and are carrying out the work without the benefits of local knowledge on such things as soil conditions, aeroplane flight paths, and common defects in materials used in the area etc.

OCCUPIED PROPERTY

The property was occupied and trading at the time of our survey, which meant that there were various difficulties when carrying out the survey such as stored items within cupboards, the roof space and obviously day to day household goods throughout the property. We have, however, done our best to work around these.

THE ELECTRICAL REGULATIONS - PART P OF THE BUILDING
REGULATIONS

Here is our quick guide to the Regulations, but please take further advice from a qualified and experienced electrician.

From 1st January 2005, people carrying out electrical work in homes and gardens in England and Wales must follow new rules in the building regulations. All significant electrical work carried out in the home will have to be undertaken by a registered installer or be approved and certified by the local authority's building control department. Failure to do so will be a legal offence and could result in a fine. Non-certified work could also put your household insurance policy at risk.

If you can't provide evidence that any electrical installation work complies with the new regulations, you could have problems when it comes to selling the property.

There will be two ways in which to prove compliance:

1. A certificate showing the work has been done by a Government-approved electrical installer - British Gas or NICEIC Electrical Contractor.

2. A certificate from the local authority saying that the installation has approval under the building regulations.

Homeowners will still be able to do some minor electrical jobs themselves. To help you, we've put together this brief list of dos and don'ts.

Work You Cannot do Yourself

• Complete new or rewiring jobs.

• Fuse box changes.

• Adding lighting points to an existing circuit in a 'special location' like the kitchen, bathroom or garden.

• Installing electrical earth connections to pipework and metalwork.

• Adding a new circuit.

Work You Cannot do Yourself

• Replacing existing accessories such as lights, sockets outlets, ceiling roses, switches, fused spurs etc.

• Adding lighting points to an existing circuit in other locations like dining rooms, lounges or bedrooms.

• Disconnecting and reconnecting existing equipment.

 

INFORMATION ON THE PROPERTY MARKET

We used to include within our reports articles on the property market that we thought would be of interest and informative to you, however we were concerned that in some cases these did not offer the latest information. We have therefore decided to recommend various websites to you, however it is important to realise the vested interest the parties may have and the limits to the information.

www.landreg.org.uk

This records the ownership of interests in registered land in England and Wales and issues a residential property price report quarterly, which is free of charge. The Land Registry is a Government body and records all transactions as far as we are aware, although critics of it would argue that the information is often many months out of date.

www.rics.org.uk

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors offer quarterly reports via their members. Although this has been criticised as being subjective and also limited, historically their predictions have been found to be reasonably accurate.

www.halifax.co.uk and www.nationwide.co.uk

Surveys have been carried out by these two companies, one now a bank and the other a building society for many years. Information from these surveys is often carried in the national press. It should be remembered that the surveys only relate to mortgaged properties, of which it is generally considered represents only 75% of the market. It should also be remembered that the national coverage of the two companies differs and that they may be offering various incentives on different mortgages, which may taint the quality of information offered. That said they do try to adjust for this, the success or otherwise of this is hard to establish.

www.rics.org.uk

From what we can see this is an internet based company who say they offer independent property research (in fact they say they are the only independent company), although they also advise that they are part of a property related group that has bought and sold over 60 million pounds worth of residential property, which indicates that they may have a vested interest. They do also comment that they have carried out their own independent surveys and they have at least two Hometrack recommended estate agents in each postcode area. We would refer you to the ‘About us’ section within their website to understand better where their information is coming from. We would comment that we have been pleasantly surprised with the quality of information provided by the company.

Motleyfool.co.uk

We also like the Motley Fool website which is a general financial site and although it is selling financial services and other services they do tend to give a very readable view of the housing market.