5 common issues you might find when buying a house
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Rebecca Janman from Iceni Surveyors highlights the most common issues you are likely to encounter when purchasing a property.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.