Homebuyers Report Uncovers Serious Drain Defect

Homebuyers report discovers partially blocked drain

Drain partially blocked by tree roots

While undertaking a Homebuyers Survey on a four bedroom detached house in Highclere, RMA Surveyors, Newbury, highlighted a list of defects where further investigation would be required.

Notably, we found evidence of a partial blockage to the drain, believed to be caused by tree roots. We reported this back to our client in the Homebuyer Report.

We recommended the client commission a CCTV survey of the drain runs, as this would provide a clear diagnosis of any problem.

The client had the drains checked by a drainage specialist, who discovered there were bush and tree roots present in all of the drain runs.

As a consequence, insurers would only provide buildings insurance if subsidence was specifically excluded from the policy. This was a big risk for our client as we also noted some evidence of subsidence to a subsidiary structure at the premises within the same survey. The insurers stipulated that all drain repairs must be undertaken and a further structural survey be carried out prior to any policy being agreed.

As a result, the Mortgage company refused to lend and their mortgage offer was withdrawn. This defect was not picked up by the mortgage valuation survey as these types of survey are very limited in scope.

Why Get a Homebuyers Report?

By commissioning a Homebuyers Report, the client saved valuable time and considerable future expense and inconvenience.

It is important to remember that a mortgage valuation is not a survey. It is undertaken on behalf of the lender, not the purchaser and only serves to determine whether or not the property provides enough security for the bank to lend upon.

This case proves that a Homebuyers Survey and Report does save our client’s money. A property purchase is one of the biggest investments you will make, and commissioning a Homebuyers Report or Building Survey will provide peace of mind that the investment is a solid one.

If you’re thinking of purchasing a property and require a Homebuyers Report or Building Survey, please get in touch with RMA Surveyors Ltd for a quote. Call us on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form.

Defect Specific Reports

Specific DefectsIn addition to property surveys, RMA Surveyors Ltd undertake Defect Specific Reports. Each written report provides a clear, comprehensive and professional opinion regarding a particular problem (or ‘defect’) within a building.

In recent months, RMA Surveyors Ltd have visited a property in Thatcham to inspect a sagging roof, a site in Didcot to investigate cracking and building movement and a property in Hungerford to assess a damp issue.

Defect specific investigations and reports encapsulate the specific materials, construction and associated issues surrounding a specific building defect. Reports can be provided in a formal written report or in a letter or email format depending on the client’s requirements.

Specification for reinstatement and an estimate for repair costs can also be included.

If you have a concern regarding your property, get in touch for advice. Call us on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form.

As chartered surveyors, RMA Surveyors Ltd are members of and are regulated by the governing body RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). As such, any client can be guaranteed a high professional standard of inspection and report.

Building Survey vs Homebuyer Report

House SearchBased in Berkshire, RMA Surveyors Ltd have recently surveyed properties in Newbury, Reading, Wokingham and Windsor.

When making an initial enquiry for a survey on a property, we are often asked what the difference is between a Homebuyer Report and a Building Survey. Our simple response is that while both involve a survey of the property, a Homebuyer Report details all the essential elements of a building but goes into less detail than a Building Survey.

If you would like to read more about the details of each report, take a look at our Property Surveys page.

As chartered surveyors, RMA Surveyors Ltd always provides professional advice and will recommend which type of survey best suits the proposed property. By analysing the age, type (e.g. semi-detached or bungalow) and whether there are any extensions to the property, we can determine which survey would best outline the condition of the building.

If you are unsure which type of survey would be most suitable for the type of property that you are intending to purchase, please contact us and we shall be happy to discuss this with you.

For a Homebuyer Report or Building Survey quote, please call RMA Surveyors Ltd on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form.

Insurance Reinstatement Repair

Damp floorWe recently undertook an insurance reinstatement repair contract in Compton, Berkshire.

The semi-detached property had suffered a central heating leak within the floor screed. It could not be determined how long the leak had been established but the whole ground floor screed was saturated. The client appointed us to liaise with the insurance company and their appointed loss adjuster.

We visited the site, assessed the damage and advised the loss adjuster of the works required. We drew together a schedule of works, which we issued for competitive tender. We ensured a contractor was appointed to undertake the works and attended regular site meetings to ensure works were completed within the four week contract period. Our role included liaising regularly with the client to ensure that decisions regarding finishes were made in good time to prevent any delay to the contract and to enable the client to move back from their alternative accommodation as quickly as possible.

Overall, the issue was dealt with within a four month period, from the date the loss was discovered to completion. Our involvement in this project reduced the cost of the claim to the insurer, ensured that the property was sufficiently restored to its pre-loss condition, and enabled the client to be satisfied that works had been undertaken and specified properly.

During the contract period, we were also able to incorporate some amendments and alterations to the ground floor space that the client desired and we were able to clearly separate and demonstrate to the Insurer which works were part of the insured loss and which were undertaken privately for the client.

On completion we certified all works and valued them and made sure the contractor was duly paid. We are pleased to have been able to provide our services and without our involvement it is highly likely that works would not have been completed in the time and to the quality to which they were.

If you’re in need of a Chartered Surveyor to help oversee some insurance reinstatement works, contact RMA Surveyors Ltd on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form and we’ll get in touch.

Commercial Building Survey

Steel clad roofRMA Surveyors Ltd recently undertook a commercial building survey of an office unit located in Kingsclere Business Park, nr Newbury.

Part of our remit was to inspect the roof, which was a low pitched profile, steel clad roof that could not be easily accessed from ground level. We organised for a lift access platform to be hired and meet us out on site to undertake this part of the inspection.

We advised the client in advance that this would be necessary and it would be worthwhile investigating the condition of the roof covering given that it was likely to be original to the property, which was constructed in the 1980s.

We discovered that the protective paint to the roof covering was rusting in places and that one of the internal gutters was blocked. Both of these items could be potentially costly to rectify, involving the requirement for scaffolding to be employed to safely access these elements.

There was no way to determine this prior to our inspection and our client would have been in a strong position to renegotiate the terms of sale taking into account the defects noted.

If you have a commercial property that you are considering purchasing or leasing, please contact us for advice and a free, no obligation quote.

Traditional Building Pitfalls

ricsRMA Surveyors Ltd, Newbury have been reading an interesting discussion on RICS regarding the care and repair work of Victorian and Edwardian age buildings and the pitfalls often made that result in ‘inherent defects’ in later life.

RMA Surveyors Ltd are a proud member of RICS, with experience in dealing with traditional buildings and period properties. If you’re looking for advice from a local, trusted chartered surveyor in Berkshire, please call us or complete the form with your query.

Read the full article or see the snapshot below:

The top 10 inappropriate works commonly carried out on traditional buildings

  1. Replacing original good quality sash windows with inappropriate modern aluminium or PVC-U casements and stripping out original period doors.
  2. Unnecessarily injecting chemical damp-proof courses (or injecting them incompetently), and re-plastering or rendering main walls with cement-based materials rather than traditional lime, thereby  trapping damp in the walls.
  3. Encouraging damp, rot and beetle infestation by blocking ventilation to floors and roofs, and by allowing high ground levels (such as flower beds) to build up against external walls.
  4. Removal of chimney breasts or load-bearing internal spine walls without providing adequate support to the remaining masonry above.
  5. Neglecting badly eroded mortar joints to external masonry, allowing damp to penetrate and frost damage to occur.
  6. Re-pointing walls with cement mortar that prevents walls from ‘breathing’, and re-pointing in visually dominant ‘show off’ styles (such as protruding ‘weatherstruck’ pointing).
  7. Botched repairs to flashings to stacks and roofs with short-life materials such as self-adhesive tapes or mortar fillets.
  8. Failure to provide enhanced structural support to roof structures where original lightweight slate coverings have been replaced with heavier concrete tiles.
  9. Not lining old flues before lighting fires or using appliances, and failing to cap and ventilate disused flues.
  10.  Weakening floor joists with excessive cutting for cable and pipe runs.

RICS members have a pivotal role to play in both these areas to ensure that the future of our important stock of traditional buildings does not continue to be carelessly endangered.

Listed Building Repairs

Wood Boring BeetleWe were privileged enough to undertake a building survey of a Grade II Listed building in Aldermaston. The property was built originally in the 1600’s with further extensions and additions added in the 1800’s and 1900’s. The original property comprised of a timber frame structure with facing brick work in fill panels, the later additions were formed in solid masonry construction.

The property had undergone extensive refurbishment during the 1800’s and the mid 1900’s and additional upgrading and repairs and addition of services had been undertaken more recently.

Many of the more recent repairs had not been undertaken in sympathy with the original construction. Most significantly many repairs had been undertaken using a cement mortar, where lime mortar would have been originally used.

The internal faces of the timber frame walls were lined with wattle and daub and we found evidence of fresh wood boring beetle damage to the wattles and staves where the wall had been exposed to prolonged high levels of damp. Gypsum plasters had been used internally, originally a lime plaster would have been used and evidence of which was visible where gypsum plaster was coming away from the wall. Modern gypsum plasters are less impervious than lime and earth plasters and gypsum is hygroscopic, meaning that it absorbs water from the air.

We also found damage to lintels buried within the wall which were also affected by damp and excessive vegetation to walls, some of which was growing through the walls. The walls had been rendered with a cement render, which was preventing evaporation from the wall and water was accumulating in the walls and allowing the structure to become saturated. The cement repointing was also having a similar affect and affecting the exposed timber within the wall.

Unfortunately these defects are extremely common with Listed Buildings where contractors and specifier’s who do not understand the performance of traditional buildings have undertaken repairs in good faith but have caused more extensive damage to the structure as a result.

Often such repairs can be more expensive to remediate as materials such as strong cement mortars can damage brick work when removed, leading to further work and repair.

If you have a Listed property, or you’re thinking about purchasing a Listed building, and would like some advice regarding appropriate remediation and repairs, please contact us on 01635 579208 or complete the form with any queries.

Asbestos Concerns

One common item we often raise in our building surveys and homebuyer reports is the potential for asbestos to be present in textured, decorative coatings, such as Artex to ceilings and wall surfaces internally.

Following guidance by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/ and the Asbestos regulations, we have an obligation to make mention of potentially asbestos containing materials.

Asbestos encapsulated in textured, decorative coatings is often only in very small amounts and provides no risk, unless it is disturbed and the fibres become airborne.  Textured, decorative coatings installed after the year 2000 are unlikely to contain any asbestos, as the use of asbestos was prohibited after this date.

RMA Surveyors Ltd are not asbestos surveyors; however, we are trained to identify potential asbestos containing materials. We have also worked alongside licenced asbestos testing and removals contractors to identify the presence of asbestos and arrange for its safe removal.

It should be noted that just because asbestos is present in a material, does not mean that the material is inherently unsafe but it should be left undisturbed, to avoid the asbestos fibres becoming airborne, at which point they do become hazardous. Professional advice should be sought.

For information and advice regarding asbestos in textured, decorative finishes, further reading is available on the HSE website.

If you have any asbestos related queries that you would like to discuss with RMA Surveyors Ltd, please contact us on 01635 579208 or by completing our ‘Contact Us Today’ form.

Homebuyers Survey finds damp

HBR dampWhilst undertaking a homebuyers survey in Newbury, our surveyor discovered damp to the base of internal and external walls and damp also to the ground floor throughout the property.

The exact cause of damp could not be determined, although our suspicions were that the damp was caused by a damaged or failed damp proof membrane to the floor. Other possibilities included buried service pipes within the floor screed, which could be leaking.

It is very common for service pipes buried in screed prior to the 1970’s to not be properly protected. Copper pipes can react with the cement within floor screeds causing corrosion; this process is accelerated where moisture is present. In some cases, where we have found similar problems and pipes have been exposed, the copper pipes are extremely thin due to this corrosive process and prone to leaking.

If you have any concerns regarding damp or are experience any similar problems please contact us on 01635 579208 or use the form below.

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Survey highlights flood risk

building survey door drainageWe undertook a building survey of a mid-terrace cottage in Sonning Eye, Berkshire. The property was identified as being in a likely flood area. The current vendor reported that although the lane near the property had regularly flooded, there had been no incidence of flooding during the occupation of the property since 2006.

We highlighted this to our client and advised that they should check with their insurance company that they would be able to obtain adequate building and contents insurance. Given the location of the property, there was likely to be an additional premium relating to flood risk.

The client did undertake these additional checks and whilst waiting for this and other legal checks to be undertaken the weather of the recent winter deteriorated and heavy rainfall unfortunately led to the property flooding.

It appears in this case that the client had a lucky escape. Flood reinstatement works can often take a long time, as we have experienced in overseeing the project management works of properties that have flooded in the past.

It is now quite possible that since the property has so recently flooded this will have affected any insurance policy to incoming owners.

If you have any queries relating to flood damaged properties or require us to undertake flood reinstatement work, please get in touch on 01635 579208 or complete the form below.

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