First Time Buyer, is it a good idea to buy a

Non-Traditional Construction property?


Our Independent Building Surveyors can help you find the perfect property

If you are in the process of buying your first property our Independent Building Surveyors can provide you with help and advice to make sure you are aware of any problems in the property. We have carried out surveys on all types and eras of property over the years. These surveys have included building surveys, structural surveys, home buyers reports, independent valuations, property surveys, engineers reports, structural reports and defects reports so please call us on 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat.

Non-traditional structural frame

Free phone 0800 298 5424

Buying your first house, why should you have a Building Survey carried out?

Our client was looking to buy their first property and was pleasantly surprised to find a house that more than exceeded their expectations. The property was larger than they expected to get for their money and it was also beautifully presented with additional features such as a real fire being an added bonus.

Non-traditional property


Too good to be true!

Unfortunately it soon became clear that the property was not a traditionally built house. The property was one that had been built Post War and is classed as a non-traditional construction (more about this later). This may have been perfect for our client to live in now but later on when they came to sell the property it could prove difficult to sell a non-traditional house. Banks, Building Societies and mortgage companies can be very choosy when it comes to authorising a mortgage on a non-traditional building; this unfortunately has a knock on effect of limiting any future potential buyers.

Non-traditional housing can offer larger than average space at a reasonable cost, but can you sell it?


What does Non-traditional construction mean?

A Non-traditional construction can really be described as buildings that are constructed using techniques that allow them to be built quickly (much faster than traditional houses), often in great numbers and also very economically. We have carried out surveys on many different types of non-traditional construction including.

Non-traditional panel construction

1. Metal frame

2. Concrete frame

3. Timber frame

4. Concrete panel construction

5. Structural insulation panels

6. In situ concrete

Non-traditional metal frame construction


Non-traditional housing Post War

After World War II the UK housing stock had been seriously depleted due to bomb damage and also the demolition of any properties that had been rendered unsafe. A lot of the housing that remained had suffered a lack of maintenance during the war years so new housing was required, and fast! Different methods of non-traditional construction were proposed and these continued to be built from the 1940's through to the 1960's.


Cold bridging problems

Although these Non-traditional construction properties were an answer to the shortage of housing they were not without their problems. One of the main issues with them is cold bridging and condensation.


What is cold bridging, why is it a problem?

Cold bridging defined

Cold bridging is caused by a colder element in the structure allowing coldness to pass through the structure much quicker when warm moist air is present in the property. Cold bridging is often caused by things like having a shower or a bath, cooking or washing, particularly if you are drying washing on the radiators. This is also caused by the general climate which results in condensation on the element

Cold bridging

Our property database

We have our own property database known as XHouse which helps us identify the typical problems that are present in every era of property. The property database is designed around the age, type and style of the property and we have literally been building this database for over a decade. This property database is unique to our Building Surveyors.


Alterations to the house have increased the chance of condensation

Over the years there have been alterations made to the property. These changes may have improved the thermal efficiency of the property but because of the lack of knowledge about non-traditional houses they have also increased the chance of condensation.


Double glazed windows without trickle vents

The property had plastic double windows. Unfortunately these did not have trickle vents to allow air flow into the property.

Trickle vents

Trickle vents allow air into the property helping to reduce condensation


Lack of extract fans in the property

The bathroom in the property was relatively small and is likely to suffer from condensation. If large humidity controlled extract fans are added to high humidity generating areas such as bathrooms, kitchens and laundry areas this can substantially reduce condensation in these areas.

Condensation can be improved by adding humidity controlled extract fans


Mass of insulation in the loft without ventilation

The level of insulation in the roof was not appropriate for an older building, such as this one, as there was no ventilation in the roof. This could be added via vents to the fascias and soffits.

Mass of insulation in roof space

Roofs can be vented via the fascias and soffits


Meeting the building surveyor at the property when possible

We always enjoy meeting our clients at the survey whenever possible as we are able to talk about any plans they may have to alter and amend the property and also to advise on how to solve any problems that we come across.


Here are some links to some of our surveying articles that we think may be of interest to you;

Why you have never seen any Building Surveys or Structural Surveys like ours

Condensation and Cold Bridging in a Non-Traditional Construction House

Do estate agents tell the truth or do they just want the house sale?

The history of Non-Traditional Building


Compare our Building Surveys but don't compare Apples with Thursdays  

If you are buying your first property and require a Building Survey or a Structural Survey we believe as Building Surveyors we have a wealth of experience and expertise that we can utilise to help you. What's more we are so confident with our higher than average standards that we believe that there is no other comparable survey available in the UK property and surveying market.


This non-traditional property was not ideal for our client

Although the property did offer many of the things our client was looking for they felt that the risk of not being able to sell the property in a few years' time out weighed the positives of the house.


Caveat Emptor or Buyer Beware!

Caveat emptor means buyer beware and is why you need to have a building survey to find out if there are any problems within the property; the estate agent certainly will not advise you of any problems. The Estate Agent has been commissioned to sell the house, nothing more and nothing less.

A Building Surveyor can identify problems such as Asbestos in a property


What do the circles and ovals mean in our reports?

We always include many photos within our reports. Sometimes where there is a problem in the property that we wish to emphasize or highlight we will use circles or ovals to identify this, please see the photo below. If the report, along with our photos, does not explain the problem or characteristics of a property enough then we also have a vast range of sketches that we have had commissioned exclusively for us that we can use in our reports.

Areas where Asbestos can be found inside a house

Micro bore piping


Independent Building Surveyors

We are experienced independent building Surveyors who are knowledgeable in carrying out structural surveys on all types, styles and eras of buildings. If you are looking to buy a property it makes sense to have a structural survey carried out by an Independent Surveyor. Phone us for a friendly chat on 0800 298 5424.


We have many other articles on our website for you to read

Please have a good look around our website to see how much detail we go into regarding property and its associated problems in our articles. We go into this much depth and detail within our reports as well.


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House and Home Surveys and Useful Information

All you need to know about Building Surveys

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Have a Structural Survey to protect you against structural problems

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How a Surveyor values a property, Chartered Surveyors and Regulated Valuers

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NHBC National House Building Council

Structural Surveys and How We Can Help You

Traditional and Non-Traditional Houses and Mortgage Problems

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Whats the difference between a Chartered Building Surveyor, Chartered Surveyor and an Independent Surveyor

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Asbestos in your home, what you need to know

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Condensation, Damp and Black Mould Problems

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Woodworm is it a problem or not? Is it active or not?

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You can't mess around with the electric, you need an expert


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Property TV Reviews by an Independent Surveyor

Schedules of Condition Leasing a Commercial Property

Scotts Schedule and Section 18 Valuation

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Reviews from clients on Commercial Building Surveys

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Pubs, Restaurants, Hotels and other Leisure facilities we have surveyed over the years

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First Time Buyers how do I go about buying my first house and home?

Improve your property knowledge with our presentations on house, homes and commercial property

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Dilapidations Presentations in Detail

Final Year Building Surveying Exams for University Students or those that would like to know more

How old is your Building? Which era was it built in?

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Surveyors and Design Tools

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Building and Property Disputes

Party Wall Book Reviews

Party Walls Your Rights and Responsibilities

1stAssociated Surveyors Review for Structural Surveys and Building Surveys

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Both at work / busy couples, how we can help and some 1stAssociated client reviews

Families with a young person flying the nest, reviews and feedback

First Time Buyers, what they say about us

Listed buildings, structural surveys

Older buildings, a review of buying an older house

Families with children looking for a new home, feedback and reviews

Buying a Non-Traditional Property

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