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RICS Surveys Information Sheet
Structural Survey Terms of Engement
Structural Survey Example Report
Structural Survey Fees
RICS Structural and Building Surveys in Derby and Derbyshire
Suitable for large, older or run-down properties, buildings that have been significantly altered, or if you’re planning major works.
Your building survey will provide you with an in-depth analysis of the property’s condition and includes advice on defects, repairs and maintenance options. The survey will examine all accessible parts of the property and any specific areas you require the surveyor to investigate. The building survey is suitable for all types of property and is ideal if the property has been altered or extended, or if you are planning significant alterations.
The main details of the building survey will include:
A market valuation and insurance reinstatement cost can be added if required.
Due to the time taken to measure the property Building Surveys cost considerably more than the Homebuyers Report, however you should bear in mind that they are unlikely to tell you any more information about serious defects to the property than the Homebuyers Report.
It is considered that the Homebuyers Report will be suitable for 99% of clients.
There was evidence of beetle infestations, dampness, rusting steel and lack of parking arrangements. Further investigation before exchange of contracts was suggested for all of these matters due to the high cost of remedial works. Our surveyors were particularly concerned by humping of a concrete floor as mortgage surveyors might make the property unsuitable for lending purposes.
Some of the items from a surveyors check list whilst undertaking a building survey or homebuyers survey
Our surveyors look at the old OS sheets and geology maps so that we have an idea of previous land uses, when the building was constructed and if was extended and for the location of rivers, industrial buildings, collieries and quarries.
The surveyor considers if there are any nuisances such as road or railways schools pubs or industrial buildings. The surveyor also considers if there are any threats to the building or occupiers from electromagnetic radiation, flood, past or current land uses, and the proximity of nearby properties and what is happening at them or in their grounds.
The building in general
The surveyor has a general look at the building so as to have an idea of its size and layout, how it is constructed and whether it has been extended, altered or damaged.
Condition of the brickwork, has it been patched or rendered, is the chimney leaning or the walls buckling or split or frost damaged. Is there a damp proof course to stop water soaking into the chimney. Are the pots and cowls present or have they been removed and the chimney capped. How many fireplaces is the chimney likely to serve.
Important matters are what the roof is covered with, the condition of the covering, likely life of the covering and how it is water proofed at junctions with walls, chimney stacks and other projections. The shape of the roof can also give an indication as to whether the structure is sound.
Here the surveyors looks particularly for signs of subsidence or other structural movement in the forms or cracks to the structure or distortions of the brickwork. The surveyor also looks for leaning or buckling walls that may not be properly restrained or are being pushed by the roof or floors. The surveyor also looks for single skin walls that are potentially unstable, cold and prone to water penetration. The condition and type of mortar used in the joints is also considered. Modern mortars used on older properties can be particularly sources of damp and frost damage. The surveyor also considered is the property has been rendered. Is any render to save money at the time of construction to hide eroded pointing or frost damaged brickwork, or does it hide past movement of the property or alterations to former openings. The surveyor also considers the damp proof course type if any and whether it is bridged or at risk of being bridged by high ground levels.
Gutters and Downpipes
These are one of the most important parts of the property. Spilling water can cause serious damage to properties particularly those with solid walls. Apart from condition and life expectancy the surveyor also considers if the gutters undulate or fall properly and where any water is draining to. Downpipe discharging on to the ground can undermine foundations or swell expanding clays.
Doors and windows.
The surveyors looks at whether they are part of the structure in that the hold up the walls above which is very common in property built before the 1990's. The surveyor looks for decay or other damage whether they operate properly and are secure. Most important particularly with first floor windows is do they allow escape in the event of a fire.
The roof void.
Here the surveyor looks at the condition of the covering and linings, the condition of the timbers, ventilation which helps reduce the risk of condensation, insulation of the ceilings below and the condition of any fire separating walls.
Older style lath and plaster ceilings can be prone to collapse or fracturing due to age. Polystyrene tiles can be a fire hazard. The surveyor also considers the insulation particularly in dormers and angled ceilings.
Most importantly the surveyor must determine which are the loadbearing walls which hold up walls on upper floor, floor structures and also roof and ceiling structures. Walls can also be checked for water penetration, condensation and failure of damp proof courses. Old plaster can be prone to being fractured or detaching from the wall. The surveyor also looks for evidence that walls have been removed and as to whether they are structural walls in which case he considers if proper support has been installed for areas above.
Older floors can have undersized joists that limit the loads that they can carry. The structures can also be subject to beetle infestation or decay from condensation or other sources of dampness. Underfloor ventilation of suspended timber ground floors is particularly important to avoid destructive dry rot decay or beetle infestations. Solid floors should also be checked for dampness. They can also be prone to sinking due to badly compressed fill or extremely destructive swelling if the concrete is laid on to a contaminated base.
Chimney breasts and fire places
Chimney bases are often removed to enlarge rooms and it is important that the upper parts are properly supported. Old chimneys can be in poor condition with a risk of fumes escaping if they are not lined. Chimneys are also prone to dampness from the chimney stack, water entering flues, condensation, not having a damp proof course or from water attracting salts that have been absorbed by the brickwork from past fires.
It is important to check that there is proper fire protection and means of escape in the event of a fire particularly in three storey buildings. The surveyor also looks at the safety of stairs, railings and glass in doors and windows.
Kitchen and bathroom
The survey checks the condition of the appliances, whether there is a water supply and the drainage arrangements. There can also be health issues.
The surveyor particularly looks at the meter and fuse box to check the earthing of the system, if there is RCS protection, particularly of the ring mains, and adequate earthing of metal objects such as metal sinks and hot and cold water pipes. The surveyor also assesses the likely age of the system and looks for evidence of alterations particularly by amateurs, and of other defects.
With gas the ventilation of appliances flue arrangements and condition of the pipework are most important.
The surveyor considers the likely age and visual condition of the heating appliances pipe and radiators and if they are likely be adequate or the size of room or building to be heated.
Leaking waste pipes and drains are a threat to heath, timbers and the foundations. We always try and lift the covers to look for signs of problems.
The surveyor looks at driveway’s permeant outbuildings, retaining walls, for unguarded drops trip hazard and slippery decks. The surveyor also looks for evidence of potentially destructive plants particularly Japanese Knotweed
This property was of concrete panel construction. At a later date the substandard panels had been removed and replaced with brick. The property had a leaning chimney, cold concrete floor and missing stair rails
RICS Structural survey on a 1950 Derby bungalow
The roof of the property was covered with moss which had blocked the gutters causing water damage. The roof conversion had limited insulation and ground floor skirting boards were rotten.
RICS Chartered Surveyors Building Survey on a 1909 Semi detached house at Melbourne Derbyshire
RICS Building Survey Report on a Derby semi-detached house with cellar and attic room from just after the turn of the century. The chimneys have been demolished probably because they were in very poor condition from attack by condensates of combustion and the original tiles roof replaced with a modern concrete tile one which caused our RICS surveyors concern about the structures ability to support the extra weight. Poor cellar ventilation had encouraged dampness which has caused decay of the floor structure and encouraged beetles to infest the floor planks. There was no protecting the occupier of the attic room from fire and the stairs to the attic room were steep with winding treads and difficult to use in the dark. External render appeared to have used plaster rather than a sand and lime render which would make it vulnerable to water damage. The property had old lead water supply pipe and a corroding metal gas pipe. Insulation of the attic room was considerably substandard.
Derby RICS Chartered Surveyors pre purchase Building Suvey report on a typical 1902 terrace house
Our Derby RICS surveyors inspected this terrace house. The front and rear walls of this property had been badly damaged by water because of failure to undertake a few hundred pounds of gutter and down pipe repairs. Intruders had damaged the kitchen and bathroom and run off with the boiler as well as damaging central heating pipes. An extension containing the bathroom and kitchen was single skin construction and likely to be cold and prone to water penetration. An attic conversion had dangerous stairs and no fire protection and probably no insulation of the ceiling.
This flight of stairs was discovered by or surveyors during a Homebuyers Survey and Report on a typical late Victorian terrace house in Derby. The bathroom and kitchen are in an annex constructed with a height that is two or three feet lower than the remainder. This leads to the ceiling heights having to be lowered in the kitchen and bathroom resulting in the need for these steps down from the main part of the property. Our surveyors considered all steps to be a fall hazard however they become even more of a hazard when placed immediately beyond a doorway. Our surveyors would have liked a landing to be constructed within the room between the door and the steps but there is not often room to accommodate one.