5 common issues you might find when buying a house

Real estate agent sitting at the desk by the window and passing keys to his client in the office

When buying a house, it's important you know exactly what you are getting - including any potential pitfalls or problems - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Rebecca Janman from Iceni Surveyors highlights the most common issues you are likely to encounter when purchasing a property.

Rebecca Janman, director of surveying company, smiling at the camera with a clipboard in her hand

Rebecca Janman, director of Iceni Surveyors - Credit: Iceni Surveyors

Damp is a serious issue that can be complex to resolve. The root cause needs to be diagnosed and addressed.

Is there a musty smell (beware of heavily ventilated spaces to dilute the smell), are there patches on the walls, has it been recently decorated, are there dimples and texture changes in the woodwork, are there black mould spores on the surfaces, white staining on wood or evidence of woodworm (small flight holes in timber)?

Wet rot is common, thankfully dry rot is less common but still devastating. It requires specialist removal and it can spread through plaster and brickwork.

Roof leakage, water damaged ceiling roof and stain on ceiling close-up

Damp is a serious issue and can be a complex one to solve - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Issues with the roof
Gutters full of debris and vegetation can cause leaks and damage, although it is an easy fix and should be part of regular maintenance. Fitting leaf guards can also avoid blockages further in the downpipes and underground system.

Rotted underlay and age-related deterioration is common and expensive. Do check in the loft space (maybe not on the first viewing), as sometimes you may see condensation and black mould or cut and missing structural timbers or unsupported chimney stacks.

Also take a good look from outside for cracked or slipped roof tiles – first floor windows can offer a good vantage point over lower roofs. 

Architecture detail of damaged house corner dilapidated old building facade wall over blue sky backg

When looking at a property, some cracking is fine but knowing if you have something more serious is dependent on a number of factors - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Structural movement
Some cracking is normal but when is a crack something to be concerned about?

This is the most difficult area to consider as a surveyor as there are many contributing factors such as ground conditions (unstable or mining etc) drainage and watercourses, trees (both presence and removal). There is a freely available guide from the Building Research Establishment called the BRE Digest 251 which categorises cracks according to width and number of cracks.

If you are unsure or need further advice, call in the professionals. Even older more serious cracks can become stable if the original cause is addressed.

Fallopia japonica or Japanese knotweed. Branch with green leaves and white flowers

Japanese knotweed is a highly invasive species and if found on your land, it needs to be managed. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Japanese Knotweed and other invasive species
A highly invasive species which is found on your land needs to be managed. You will be breaking the law if you allow it to spread.

If you are looking to buy make sure you know what this looks like at the time of year you are viewing properties and carefully and methodically survey the garden for it. It can cause structural issues and potential problems when arranging a mortgage. If you have it you will need a specialist to remove it for you.

Other invasive plants are Giant Hogweed, Himalyan Balsam, Rhododendron Ponticum, Three Cornered Garlic – all illegal to plant or allow to grow – and other types of aggressive vegetation which can cause issues are bamboo – if not contained in a pot they spread rapidly.

Electrician engineer work tester measuring voltage and current of power electric line in electical

Faulty wiring can be quite commonplace - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Gas and electrical services
Faulty wiring and leaking gas services are commonplace, a visual inspection (not testing) is carried out by a surveyor but there can be hidden problems. Always call a specialist in and get a EICR certificate and a Gas Safe certificate.

If you would like some help or advice on surveys, Rebecca would be happy to assist. Visit www.icenisurveyors.co.uk for more information.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter