Review of a survey of a client who was

moving from the north to the south of

England due to work



Moving house was a necessity

We are building surveyors and we recently carried out a residential building survey of a Victorian end terrace property in East London .

Our client was relocating from the north of England down to London due to work commitments.


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Prices in London are far more expensive that prices in the north of England

The client was shocked to see how much more expensive property prices were in the London area compared with the north west .

He had a young family and schools were a factor in the area that he chose as well as vicinity to work. He felt he wanted somewhere in greater London that was within a commutable distance to his workplace.

After a great deal of research he felt he had found the perfect property but naturally wanted an independent building survey to ensure there were no major structural problems with the house.


Independent building surveyors

Our building surveyors are all members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and have years of surveying experience, both in house surveying and commercial surveying. We would always recommend you have a full structural survey before you buy what will essentially be the most expensive purchase you will ever make.

You would be mad to buy a second hand car before taking it for a test drive and even having a mechanic give it the once over, so we are baffled why so many people choose to just have the valuation survey instead of a full independent building survey when this is such a major purchase.

Our surveyors are not attached to any estate agents, banks or building surveyors and are therefore completely independent and only work for you and have your best interests at heart and not those the company they work for!

Free phone us on 0800 298 5424 to speak to a chartered surveyor.


Were any problems found with the house when the survey was carried out?

The survey property in question was an end of terraced Victorian property. Our client knew that the property was a “doer-upper” and realised there would be many decorative and small problems with the property but was keen to ensure there was nothing major wrong with the house.

Immediately the surveyor could see that outside the chimney on the right had been lowered and therefore it was likely it had been capped or removed. Upon closer inspection he found that the chimney breast had been removed throughout the property and was resting on gallows brackets, something we are personally not very keen on.


Chimney removed and gallows bracket

Gallows bracket


It would be possible to put the chimney breast back in but of course this would be rather costly.



Circles and ovals in our survey reports

As you can see above, we use circles and ovals to emphasise problem areas in our survey reports and feedback from our clients has been that they find this very helpful.


Original slate tiles replaced with much heavier concrete tiles

The original slate tiles had been replaced with concrete tiles; these are much heavier than slate tiles. This is quite a common practice and the surveyor noticed that extra timbers supports had quite correctly been added in the roof space to give extra support to the roof. However, rather alarmingly he noticed that some of the supports in the roof are on to the central walls but the central wall has been removed at ground level to open up two small rooms into one large reception room.

Supporting timbers



It is important that a steel beam has been added and our surveyor recommended the wall opened up to check and a steel beam added if there was not one. This would be another costly expense, going into the thousands of pounds.

Central wall removed at ground floor level


Gable end not tied in

During the survey it was noted that the floorboards run front to rear and therefore are not tied into the gable end (as depicted in the adjacent sketch). The surveyor recommended that they be tied in; again unfortunately this would be rather costly to do.

Gable end not tied in


Numerous raking cracks

Externally numerous raking cracks were found. Ground movement around the property was also noted, as were internal cracks. This led the surveyor to suspect progressive movement though of course this would be impossible to confirm from a one off inspection and the surveyor said that usually an insurance company would want to monitor the property for approximately one year to be certain. He felt the best option would be for the existing owners to put in an insurance claim meaning our clients would only have liability for the excess.


Raking crack on the house

Raking crack to rear


The property was on a sloping site and it was noted that some of the nearby properties had had levelling out work carried out, this in turn may have contributed to the movement around the house being surveyed.

Sloping site


Many other problems too!!

Many other problems were found in and around the property.


1.  Air bricks acting as gutters

The air bricks were situated too lower and were accordingly acting as gutters which may lead to dampness getting in to the suspended timber floor.


Air brick acting as a gutter

Sketch of an air brick acting as a gutter

Suspended timber floor


We suggested a French drain be added around the property as a solution.

French drain


2. Polystyrene tiles a potential fire hazard

Some of the ceilings had polystyrene ceiling tiles. These are, of course, a potential fire hazard and need removing.


3. Dated electrics and heating

The electrics are old and dated and need replacing. The Institute of Electrical Engineers standards (IEE) recommend a test and report whenever a property changes occupancy. This should be carried out by an NICEIC registered and approved electrical contractor or equivalent.

Similarly the whole central heating system needed replacing.

Costs for all this work would run into the thousands of pounds.


4. Dated kitchen and bathroom

The bathroom and kitchen was again old and dated and would need replacing, plus general redecoration of the whole property was needed. Again this is another costly venture.


What was the overall conclusion after the survey was completed?

The surveyor unfortunately came to the conclusion that this was not a property to be taken on lightly and unless you are experienced in house refurbishments, i.e. a builder or property developer he would not recommend going ahead with the purchase. As our clients were not in this category it was recommended not go ahead and buy this property as it would just be a money pit.

It is very rare that our surveyors come to this conclusion and it just shows you the scale and cost of the problems within this house.


Surveying articles

Over the years we have put together some interesting articles on every aspect of surveying, from buying your first home, to dampness within a property, to property programme TV reviews! You name it we've prepared a surveying article on it!

Here are links to a selection that we think you may be interested in. For further surveying articles please go to our website


Are surveys better than valuations?


Problem Solving


Is there asbestos in your home?


Drainage and manholes


Location, location,


Call us on free phone 0800 298 5424 and chat to a building surveyor

We are contactable on free phone 0800 298 5424 to get a free survey quote and get a copy of one of our property booklets.


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