Kate Faulkner’s Top 10 Property Survey Tips!

publication date: Aug 31, 2010
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Designs on Property and Author of Which? Property Books

Kate Faulkner’s Top 10 Property Survey Tips!

So you don’t want to end up on Sarah Beeny’s new show ‘Help! My House is Falling Down’? Then it’s time to make sure you have a property makeover. Not the usual buy a new kitchen kind or painting the walls magnolia, more the practical, essential kind: get the roof fixed or sorting out the drains!

I know it’s not sexy, I know it’s not exciting, I know you can’t say to your friends ‘come round and see my fab new roof’. You can however sleep at night knowing that all the hard work you are either about to carry out as a buyer or already have as a home owner has been done.

More importantly, maintaining your home is a requirement to make sure any damage that the property suffers is covered by your buildings and contents insurance. Many people don’t realise that your insurance is subject to making sure you keep your property in good order.

Kate’s 10 Property Survey Tips for Homeowners!

Top Tip One: Check the Roof First!

It might seem an odd pastime, but next time it rains, don’t stay indoors, put your waterproof coat on, take the kids to help you if you can, and play ‘spot the hole in the roof!’ Check for things like missing tiles, cracks near chimneys etc.
Top Tip Two: Check the Guttering!
While you are out and about checking the roof, also check the guttering for leaks which will either be from the joints or because there is a blockage, in which case get the joints sealed and/or the blockage cleared. 

Top Tip Three: Is your House a Well?
OK, this may seem a weird question to ask, but it even happened to me! A ground floor flat I bought showed damp in the front room wall. The previous owners had built another wall outside and put a concrete ‘floor’ in between. The result: a fantastic well when it rained! It was easy to fix, the concrete came out and was replaced with gravel so water can drain away.

Check nothing like this exists around your property and make sure there is no concrete around your outside wall that is causing water to ‘stagnate’, resulting in damp walls.  

Top Tip Four: Watch out for Vegetation
It may be lovely to have wisteria or ivy growing up your home, but beware that vegetation can cause damp in your walls as it retains water and some, like ivy can get in between the mortar joints and cause further damp areas.

Top Tip Five: Go back to your Roots
Trees next to your home can give a lovely ‘rural’ feel to the property, and Kate loves them, she even has a pear tree growing right outside her house. But, she didn’t buy the property without checking first that the roots weren’t causing any structural damage to the property’s foundations.

Top Tip Six: Is your Home Cracking Up?
Many cracks that appear in houses, new or old aren’t a major problem, just something that happens as properties settle on the ground they are built on. Some properties though suffer severe cracks which are structural problems, many of which can be easily fixed. Any cracks that take a 10p piece fitted in sideways, to should be checked by a local independent property surveyor.

Top Tip Seven: Check walls for damp!
Walls get damp for many reasons, and they can always be fixed, often for a few thousand pounds. Check the bottom of your walls for any damp patches, especially after a few days of rain. Then get a free ‘timber and damp’ check.

Top Tip Eight: Make sure Windows are Doors are Water and Wind Tight
If you have wooden windows, check they are painted properly, sealed and there are no cracks in the windows that would allow any wind or water to get through. If they are plastic and double glazed, check they are well fitted and there are no draughts coming through. Make sure that the glazing meets current standards.

Top Tip Nine: Electrical and Gas Safety
I don’t know why, but every home I’ve ever bought has had a really useless boiler! As a result I’ve had to fork out between £1,000 to £2,000 to get a new one fitted. So, after having this happen twice, I now make sure I ask the surveyor to have a quick look and then I get a Gas Safety Registered plumber to check it out – albeit at an extra cost of up to £75. However, this has saved me over £10,000 due to the number of properties I’ve bought over the years!

Don't forget to get all the electrics and electrical wiring checked out, preferably by an elctrician who is a member of the Electrical Contractors' Association (ECA).

Top Tip Ten: Once you’ve done all the checks – check again in six months time!
Homes move, they leak, they get broken, every day of the week. It might be after a storm, after you have had some work done, or just because they are buildings that, just like us, need maintaining in good health. Your home is probably your most expensive asset - you wouldn’t not change the tyres on your car or let it go for years without a service, your home is the same, just a lot more valuable, so TAKE CARE OF IT!


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