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INDEPENDENT SURVEYORS - RICS HOMEBUYERS SURVEY REPORT - 1900 SEMI DETACHED HOUSE

Home buyers Survey Photographs of a 1900 semi detached house by our Independent RICS Chartered Surveyors

 

Front view. Early 1900's three storey semi detached house. 

The front wall has suffered considerable frost damage to the face of the bricks. It is unclear of the bricks are soft and able to hold a lot of moisture or of the retained ground behind the wall is a contributor. Note that the bay window on the adjacent property has been removed. Reason not clear. Possibly heat saving from a smaller window area or possibly the bay was moving away from the property.

 

Another boundary wall that is in poor condition. Here the wall appears to be coming apart possibly due to root action from the adjacent hedge.

 

This wall has suffered from an extensive loss of pointing. It is essential that boundary walls are well maintained as if they become unstable that cost a lot of money to rebuild

 

The air brick at the centre of the bay is blocked. It is important that it is maintained as good ventilation helps keep the under floor area dry reducing the risk of damp and decay. It would be preferable if the old style clay brick was replaced with a modern plastic grille as they have larger openings enabling better ventilation. Vents either side of the bay would also improve ventilation.

The raised concrete slab below the rear reception room window has blocked important under floor ventilation of the rear reception room timber floor increasing the risk of the floor structure becoming damp and at risk of decay.

It

Frost damaged bricks. The reason is not clear. Possibly due to gutter spillage causing them to become damp.

More frost damaged brickwork. Here the white salts in the near by brickwork suggest that water may have been spilling from the rainwater goods and washing the salts out of the brickwork. The damp bricks would then be vulnerable to frost damage.

An altered opening. The widening of the opening will have compromised the arches ability to hold up the brickwork above. Fortunately in this instance the plastic frame is strong enough to hold up the brickwork above. In many cases modern plastic frames are not as strong as the timer frames they replace and this can lead to horizontal fractures above and the brickwork sags.

Fire escape providing escape from the first and second floors. This is an outdated method of fire protection. In a modern house it would be designed with a fireproof stairwell and bedroom, living room and kitchen doors fronting the stairwell would be half hour fire resisting with self closers.

The fire escape has been neglected and is corroding badly.

Here the base of the rails has snapped. A failure of steel of that diameter supporting a relatively light load is very unusual. Cause unknown.

The roof edges are due for redecoration. The work will be very expensive due to height. It would be economic to reduce future maintenance liability by replacing the roof edges with plastic.

The uneven brickwork at the foot of the roof indicates that a chimney has been removed.

A small section of the chimney breast remains in the bathroom below. How this section is supported is not known as the section has been removed from the room below. The angled ceiling is unlikely to be insulated and improvement will be difficult without removing the plaster.

An attempt has been made to line the underside of the roof without removing the tiles. Purpose unknown. The roof is not being used for storage and hence containing dust from the cement is not beneficial. Any water collected by the felt will be concentrated at the ceilings edges below. The roof has been in situ for a hundred years so it is unlikely that the felt is needed to stop strange pressure effects lifting the tiles off the face of the roof.

Damp below the chimney stack. Most likely caused by condensation. The flue should be capped and vented if not used. It is likely that water absorbing contaminates will have leached out due to the damp and the area may need replacing and the brickwork behind sealing to stop the area from continuing to be damp.

The edge of the window glazing unit has buckled. Heat is the most likely cause. It did not appear to be affecting the performance of the glazing unit.

 

A conduit tracking across a wall. Likely to contain an electric cable. Such conduits should only run horizontally or vertically from fittings so that their likely location can be easily guessed. Here it would be easy to drive a screw or nail into the conduit if covered with wallpaper or better decorated.

Damp stained corner corresponding to the external down pipe with frost damage. Solid walled pre second world war properties are vulnerable to water penetration if rain water goods are not maintained.

 

 

Extracts from the report

 

 

E1 Chimney stacks

 

 

 

No serious defects or urgent repairs noted.

Redundant flues can be capped and vented to keep them dry and help remove moisture from the property.

Small areas of missing pointing do not require attention at present.

 

 

 

 

E2 Roof coverings

 

 

 

 

Whilst believed to be condensation damp on the front roof void bedroom could be due to a failure of the metalwork on the chimney so it would be prudent to check this area and repair if required.

Small chips on the tiles do not require attention at present.

A suspected leak above the dormer window is believed to be historic but should be monitored.

Check the metal bay roofs and valley gutter carefully as the metal can easily fail due to thermal movement or pin hole corrosion.

 

 

 

 

E3 Rainwater pipes and gutters

 

 

 

 

No serious defects or urgent repairs noted but check them carefully in wet weather as any leaks could saturate the solid walls.

 

 

 

 

E4 Main walls

 

 

 

 

There is no evidence of a lintel above the door to the top of the fire escape and adjacent window, and the lintel does not bridge the opening above the first floor door to the fire escape. There is however no evidence of any movement of the brickwork above. Care will required if the frames are removed.

The walls are likely to be of solid construction and cold and prone to condensation. Improvement will be difficult and expensive. The rear wall of the ground floor toilet is of single skin construction and will be particularly cold.

The brickwork is stained on the line of the kitchen chimney. It is suspected that the brickwork is contaminated with past acidic condensates of combustion and that the interior may be in poor condition

Some bricks have lost their faces particularly either side of the entrance door probably due to past water spillages. This is a cosmetic matter but can only be properly repaired by cutting them out. Obtaining matching bricks is likely to be difficult.

Some pointing is missing largely at high level on the side of the property.

Bricks on the side of the lounge do not match those above. The reason is not known but is unlikely to be significant.

The single course of engineering bricks as damp proof course is strictly substandard and it is suspected that the ground levels has been raised in relation to it. The ground level should be lowered so as to be 150mm below the top of the damp proof course. There was however no evidence of  serious damp proof course failure and it would not be expected given the suspended reception room floors.

 

 

 

 

E5 Windows

 

 

 

 

No serious defects or urgent repairs noted. Many were tested and operated properly. A glazing unit perimeter has buckled within the front roof void bedroom glazing unit. Does not apear to be causing a problem.

 

 

 

 

E6 Outside doors (including patio doors)

 

 

 

 

No serious defects or urgent repairs noted.

Only the front door was tested.

 

 

 

 

E7 Conservatory and porches

 

 

 

 

None noted.

 

 

 

E8 Other joinery and finishes

 

 

 

 

No serious defects or urgent repairs noted. Roof edge timbers appear to require routine repair and redecoration but at some expense due to their height.

 

 

 

 

E9 Other

 

 

 

 

Works on the exterior of this property will be expensive due to height. Investigate costs before exchange of contracts.

Fire escape. Parts are badly corroded it is not properly supported and he hand rails have snapped. Replacement will be very expensive but it may subject to building regulation consent be possible to create a fire proof corridor between the roof void rooms and front door which would enable the fire escape to be removed.

 

           
 
 

 

 

rics.org

 

 

 

 

 

F

 

Inside the property

 

Limitations to inspection

 

 

Floors structures were covered. The main roof was inspected form the hatch are due to access difficulties. The front roof void door was obstructed and not entered.

 

 

 

 

F1 Roof structure

 

 

 

No serious defects or urgent repairs noted.

Large areas of the roof do not have a proper lining. Attempts to insert a lining between the rafters have not been successful but this is not considered to be a problem due to the steep pitch of the roof.

The horizonal structural timbers above the rear roof void bedroom are cantilevering off walls rather than crossing the whole space. It is suspected that this has caused them to sag slightly but this is not considered to be serious.

 

 

 

 

F2 Ceilings

 

 

 

 

No serious defects or urgent repairs noted.

There is a limited standard of insulation above the second-floor ceilings where seen. The dormer, angled and bay window ceilings are unlikely to be insulted and improvement will be difficult. The ceilings are likely to have to be removed.

Many ceilings may be original and prone to fracturing as seen in the front bedroom, and even collapse. Some have holes in possibly due to collapse and possibly due to attempts at alterations. Most would want to replaster throughout.

 

 

 

 

F3 Walls and partitions

 

 

 

 

No serious defects or urgent repairs noted.

There was no evidence of distortion of the structure that might be associated with serious subsidence or settlement or the structure.

The walls were tested extensively with a damp meter. There is no evidence of a serious damp proof course failure or problem with condensation. Slight dampness of the kitchen chimney breast is likely to be due to salt contamination of plaster touching the juncture of the wall and solid floor.

The fire break wall is missing from the roof void.

Walls are to have been removed from within the kitchen area and to open it into the rear reception room. There is no evidence of any serious movement of the areas above.

The sides of the roof void partition walls and side of the dormers are unlikely to be insulated. Improvement may be difficult without considerable disturbance.

There are holes in the walls due to alterations and paster may be in poor condition and prone to fracturing and collapse with age. Most would want to replaster throughout.

 

 

 

 

F4 Floors

 

 

 

 

Underfloor vents to the cellar area require clearing. It is unclear if the small area of timber floor in the kitchen has ventilation to it. It is suspected that the vents at the rear of the rear reception room have been obstructed by a raised ground level. Poor underfloor ventilation can cause damp and decay although there was no evidence of a serious problem when jumping on the floors.

 

 

 

 

F5 Fireplaces, chimney breasts and flues

 

 

 

 

No serious defects or urgent repairs noted.

Damp in the front roof void bedroom is likely to be due to condensation, possibly encouraged by the cold meal weather proofing, or contamination of the plaster from water absorbing flue condensates. The plaster may have to be replaced and the brickwork sealed to contain any contaminates.

If the use of a fire is important to you have the fireplaces and flues investigated before exchange of contracts. The interiors are likely to be in very poor condition and should not be used without steel liners being inserted.

Unused flues should be vented to help keep the interiors dry and remove moisture from the property.

 

 

 

 

F6 Built-in fittings (e.g. built-in kitchen and other fittings, not including appliances)

 

 

 

They are some years old and have suffered some superficial damage. No serious defects or urgent repairs noted.

 

 

 

 

F7 Woodwork (e.g. staircase and joinery)

 

 

 

 

If the fire escape is to be removed all bedroom and living room doors fronting the stairwell will have to be half hour fire resistant with self-closers. Walls in the stairwells and landing should have a zero fire rating.

Stair rail spacings may trap children.

A number of doors are missing and should be reinstated to contain smoke and fire.

 

 

 

 

F8 Bathroom and kitchen fittings

 

 

 

 

No serious defects or urgent repairs noted. The bathroom fittings are basic. Most would want to upgrade them.

 

 

 

 

F9 Other

 

 

 

 

Cellar. Removal any unnecessary timbers that could cause a dry rot outbreak and improve ventilation.

 

                 
 
 

 

 

rics.org

 

 

 

 

 

G

 

Services

 

Services are generally hidden within the construction of the property. This means that we can only inspect the visible parts of the available services, and we do not carry out specialist tests. The visual inspection cannot assess the services to make sure they work efficiently and safely, or meet modern standards.

 

 

Limitations to inspection

 

 

 

There were no major restrictions

 

 

 

G1 Electricity Safety warning: The Electrical Safety Council recommends that you should get a registered electrician to check the property and its electrical fittings and that a periodic inspection and testing is carried out at the following times: for tenanted properties every 5 years or at each change of occupancy, whichever is sooner; at least every 10 years for an owner-occupied home. All electrical installation work undertaken after 1 January 2005 should have appropriate certification. For more advice contact the Electrical Safety Council.

 

 

 

 

The meter is outside and the consumer unit is in the cellar.

Have the system tested before exchange of contracts unless there is a satisfactory service record.

Parts of the system are some years old and there is evidence of interference. Ensure that exposed wires are not live. It is suspected that cables on the second stair well track diagonally across the wall which is substandard if they are not redundant.

Ensure that all floors have interlinked mains wired alarms.

There are the remains of emergency lights and sprinklers. It is not known if they operate properly.

 

 

 

 

G2 Gas/oil Safety warning: All gas and oil appliances and equipment should regularly be inspected, tested, maintained and serviced by an appropriately qualified Gas Safe Engineer or Registered Heating Engineer and in line with the manufacturer’s instructions. For tenanted properties by law a 12 monthly gas safety check must be carried out on every gas appliance/flue. A gas safety check will make sure gas fittings and appliances are safe to use. This is important to make sure that the equipment is working correctly, to limit the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning and to prevent carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from leaking into the air. For more advice contact the Gas Safe Register for gas installations, and OFTEC for oil installations.

 

 

 

 

The meter and stop valve are outside.

 

Have the system tested before exchange of contracts unless there is a satisfactory service record.

 

Properties of this age can have pipes in the floors and walls where they are vulnerable to damage unless run in conduits. Any such pipes should be rerouted.

 

 

 

 

G3 Water

 

 

 

 

The stop tap was not seen. Check that you can locate and operate it in an emergency.

No serious defects or urgent repairs noted.

 

 

 

 

G4 Heating

 

 

 

 

There are two modern boilers and system of radiators. No serious defects noted but have the system tested before exchange of contracts unless there is a satisfactory service record.

Radiator has been removed from the first landing. Two radiators in the utility room and toilet have superficial corrosion.

Both boilers should have carbon monoxide detectors.

 

 

 

 

G5 Water heating

 

 

 

 

From the boilers directly. No serious defects noted but have the system tested before exchange of contracts unless there is a satisfactory service record.

 

 

 

 

G6 Drainage

 

 

 

Above Ground Drainage. No serious defects or urgent repairs noted.

Below Ground Drainage. Two covers opened. No serious defects or urgent repairs noted.

 

 

 

 

G7 Common services

 

 

 

 

Parts of the drains may be shared. Maintenance of these sections is likely to be the responsibility of the water company or landlord.

 

 

 

 

INDEPENDENT SURVEYORS FOR RICS HOMEBUYERS REPORTS HOUSE AND PROPERTY VALUATIONS  

 

 

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