Building Surveys

Formerly known as a 'structural survey', a building survey is suitable for older properties or those that are unusual, have been altered, or where alterations are intended. 

 

These surveys represent the highest level of inspection and reporting available; typically the inspection stage takes between five and seven hours on site. Where large properties are inspected and reported on, the timeframe can increase beyond a single day. 

 

We always inspect as fully as we possibly can all areas of a property we are instructed on. This includes a full roof void inspection (when access is possible and safe), internal & external inspections of the building's fabric, and the lifting of manholes where possible along with flushing through of the underground foul drainage system. 

 

We use the latest inspection technology and equipment, including hygrometers and thermal imaging cameras, as well as rigid cavity endoscopes, drones and high-elevation camera poles to record the condition of roof coverings, valleys and gutters (again, whenever possible and safe to do so).

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Insect Damage

Woodworm damage is caused by various species of insects including common furniture beetle, deathwatch beetle and wood boring weevils. You may have seen indicative holes in timbers but it is important to note that the woodworm may not be active and the holes present may actually represent an historic issue only. We examine timbers carefully, looking for signs that woodworm is present and crucially whether it is active. Active woodworm, if left unchecked, can cause significant harm to a building and where present in structural timbers can cause structural failure in the most extreme cases. Remedial works include chemical treatment and replacement of severely damaged timbers. Very often, the full extent of damage is not visible, with much of the damaged timber being hidden below the surface.

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Fabric Insertions

Existing buildings are often subjected to alterations. A good example of this is injected cavity insulation to external walls. You may be unaware of any such work being previously undertaken. However, to the trained eye it is possible to tell from a close visual inspection of some walls that it has happened. In this example you can clearly see the single grey 'plug' where the insulation would have been injected and the grey material in this case is a modern grey mortar mix used to fill in the injection hole. This particular wall will have a large number of grey 'plugs' visible. We will advise on matters such as confirmation of any warranties that may still exist on the installation and any potential issues such as inadequate coverage which we can further confirm using building thermography and through the use of our rigid cavity inspection cameras.

Building surveys
Structural Alterations

Most buildings evolve over time, ranging from modern 'bolt-on' extensions, replacement windows to major structural works including the creation of basement rooms and the removal of major load-bearing walls to create open-plan living. The example on the left shows a new roof which has been built over an older original roof. We will check the whole of the building, looking critically to identify its true history and development. We will further identify and comment on the significance of any such changes and alterations, whether that be by way of structural implications, thermal issues or any other matter that may be problematic as a consequence. Unfortunately, many properties are unknowingly damaged or compromised by owners undertaking alterations or enhancement works when they have not taken professional advice beforehand.

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Services

Why worry about something that you cannot see? Well, in the case of underground drainage, if it goes wrong, the implications could be serious. For example, a drain laid to an incorrect fall will not operate properly and will eventually block up. A drain that is cracked or broken will not only become blocked but it will also have the potential to cause structural movement to a building by encouraging escaped liquids to soften, or otherwise undermine a building's foundations. In the example to the left, there is another issue identified; the black pipe is 'pitch-fibre' and this is known to collapse over time. Clearly the consequences of such events are serious, and complete sections of underground pipework would have to be replaced at great cost and inconvenience. We always lift manholes where physically possible and check the condition of visual features.

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Drones

We offer enhanced services in the form of drone inspections to roofs and other high-level inaccessible features. We are able to undertake drone surveys on most building types, including residential, commercial, educational and institutional buildings, and as commercially licenced and insured drone operators with our own fleet of drones, we can inspect and report on any high level inaccessible or fragile area.

The above examples only represent a small number of areas we inspect and report on. Other important areas we always comment on, where we are reasonably and safely able to inspect,  include:

  • The presence of wet rot.

  • The presence of dry rot.

  • Rising damp.

  • Penetrating damp.

  • Structural movement.

  • Condensation issues.

  • General damp-proofing measures.

  • Health & safety issues.

  • Thermal performance.

  • Legal/regulatory issues.

 

Your property acquisition will probably be the most expensive buying decision you will ever make; why risk it by not having the property thoroughly checked and reported on by a Chartered Building Surveyor beforehand.

Please contact us for more information on any of the above, as we would be happy to have an informal chat with you in the first instance.