Moving to a shared freehold / leasehold

third storey flat in a city;

a review of the building survey


Always have a building survey when you are buying or leasing a property

As building surveys we know how important it is to have a full structural survey of a property, whether it be residential or commercial and whether you are buying or leasing. It would indeed be folly to go ahead with such an important transaction without having a full and independent survey report carried out as if there prove to be problems with the property once you have completed upon the purchase then it could turn out to be a money pit.

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Buying a shared freehold / leasehold property in a large block of flats


Our clients had had an offer accepted on a flat in a large new purpose built block of flats in the heart of London . This purchase was on a leasehold / shared freehold basis, meaning that they owned the freehold of the flat itself but the whole block of flats were the responsibility of all the owner/occupiers within the flats, under the responsibility of a management committee.

This means that you are all responsible for any chimneys, roofs, windows etc and the cost will be shared amongst all the residents.


Sinking fund / planned maintenance schedule

A good management company will put in place a sinking fund and planned maintenance schedule.

This is where you pay an agreed sum into the sinking fund and the planned maintenance schedule will list all future maintenance coming up and the costs involved.

In the case of this block of flats we could see that the windows and doors would soon need redecoration.

We advised that they contacted their legal adviser who would be able to find out more information about the management company, the planned maintenance schedule and the sinking fund.

The flats had metal balconies and we could see that in the flat we were surveying the metal work was in need of redecoration, as the paint was flaking and bolts were rusting. Again, this will be a shared liability.


Condensation internally

We found the extract fans in the bathroom and kitchen to be too small to cope with the amount of moisture being produced. Readings were high on our moisture metre and we noticed mould in the bathroom.

A way of reducing condensation is to add large humidity controlled extract fans in bathrooms, kitchens and other areas where the drying of clothes is carried out. This will disperse any moisture.

Taking surface temperature readings

Our survey conclusion of this flat

Overall we didn't find any major problems with the property, however we were concerned that the management property wasn't maintaining the external of the property properly due to the poor quality of the timber cladding panels, flaking paintwork, rusting screws, etc. The decoration was at such a stage that deterioration was starting to occur.

Our advice to the client was to get their legal to make enquiries about the management company and for the client to be 100% sure they were happy before proceeding to purchase their new home.


Surveying equipment is vital when carrying out a survey

As surveyors we always carry a range of surveying equipment to every survey, i.e.

1)  Moisture meters (mentioned above),

2)  Damp meters to find any rising or lateral / penetrating dampness

3)  Thermal imaging cameras to show any heat loss from the building

4)  Ladders, both for viewing things such as low level flat roofs and for viewing the loft space internally if there is no fixed loft ladder.

5)  Torch to view the loft space if there is no electric light.

Checking for dampness with a damp meter

The red areas show heat loss from the roof of a thatched property


Further information about buying a house and about having a building survey

We have produced a series of surveying articles over the years which we believe will be of interest to you. Please go to

These include:

General articles regarding surveying, surveyors and valuations.

Articles specifically dealing with property problems, such as cracking, movement, dampness, etc.

If you are planning on extending or refurbishing a house then we have a series of articles just for you.

We have a whole section regarding commercial property, for both landlords and tenants; we even have a section relating to dilapidations.

If you are having a dispute; maybe relating to party walls or boundaries then we think you will find an article relating to this.

We have even reviewed many of the television property programmes.

Here is just a few of our many articles that we think will be of interest to you:


Why you have never seen a survey like ours

Do estate agents tell the truth?

Adding value to your property

My first lease, what should I do?

A Schedule of Condition, what should I expect?

We have also prepared a review of many of our surveys for you to look at, and we also recommend you look at our Media Section where you can look at / download examples for free of past surveys


Need a survey, don't delay contact us today

You can get a free survey quote by going to our website Free phone us on 0800 298 5424 to speak to one of our surveyors.


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