building valuations


Snow and Ice and Winter Surveying


Commercial Property Problems


Our Surveyors solve property problems of all types, large or small we enjoy the challenge. From industrial warehouse units to shops and retail and offices that are purpose built or converted. We would add that we are more than happy to look at one off buildings or your own house and home.

We can prepare Commercial Building Surveys and Structural Surveys. If you are taking on a lease or surrendering a lease we can provide Schedules of Condition, Property Reports, Schedules of Dilapidations and Scott Schedules. We can also carry out Specific Defects Reports for problems relating to structural issues.

Thermal image of a commercial property, can you guess what type?



Free phone 0800 298 5424

Any Property problems

If you have a property problem we would suggest that you Free Phone us on 0800 298 5424 or you may be able to find the answer on our website. We have included some links within this surveying article that relate to different types of property problem. Or we would refer you to our home page at where, if you scroll down the page, we have an index of all the articles we have written.


Snow on warehouse roof

Again we would add that our Independent Surveyors are more than happy to talk to you. Please Free phone us on 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat.  


What do the ovals and circles in our surveys mean?

The circles and ovals are a system that we use within our structural surveys and building surveys to highlight problem areas so that you are not left wondering what the problem is.

Valley gutter on a church roof


Our sketches

In addition to this if the photographs do not explain the problem enough together with our survey report we also add in one of our own sketches such as the example that is shown here.


Snow and ice and the problems it causes in commercial properties

This article looks at problems that occur in colder weather conditions on commercial properties. These problems can also occur in your house and home. We would refer you the article we have carried out on this if it is more relevant to your situation.

Over many years we really have surveyed many different types of commercial property. We have worked on the largest brand new warehouses to the most dilapidated War Year warehouse and from individual shops and converted buildings to large purpose built shops. The same can be said for offices from the small individual office converted from a house and extended to a larger purpose built office. We particularly enjoy solving property problems and are not averse to coming out in the snow, rain and cold weather as you will see from the photos although it is easier to survey on a day without snow!

Snow and ice emphasised problems on this restaurants flat roof and lead to it being closed down.



A commercial property flat roof problem where we saved the leaseholder tens of thousands of pounds

We were asked by a shopkeeper who ran an automobile parts business and a coffee shop, both very successfully, to look at problems he was having, as a tenant, with the flat roof above the buildings he leased. The flat roof kept becoming blocked up and causing damp problems. The landlord had kindly looked at the problem and decided on the solution without consulting our client. He then advised our client that he had obtained quotes for nearly one hundred thousand pounds worth of work that he was going to re-charge to our client the tenant.

The commercial property with the flat roof problems


Looking at the hidden flat roof with moss visible on the top edge indicating dampness

View of the flat roof in the snow. This was the least amount of snow we worked in


The roof problems were priced at nearly one hundred thousand pounds

This disagreement between the landlord and the tenant had led to a court case. We were then asked to inspect the roof as expert witnesses. Unfortunately the timing of the court case was during a period of heavy snow. The photos to the right hand side show the days when we had the least snow! We travelled backwards and forwards several times to see the property but it seemed to be snowing every time.

The flat roof became blocked causing dampness around the roof lights (circled in red)


Thermal images

With the date of the court case looming we decided to carry out thermal imaging of the roof to establish exactly where the leaks were coming from and the thermal imaging camera really worked well as it showed the saturated parts of the concrete slab. However we were well aware that we were looking at the effect of the problem and needed to resolve the cause.

Checking a roof leak using a damp meter


Leaks in the flat roof, how can you solve them?

Let us explain a bit more about the leak in the roof. In this case it was directly over a car auto-parts sale room and also a coffee shop. The property was a two storey property with a flat roof and a parapet wall surrounding it. The parapet wall was slightly higher than normal being about 1m to 1.5m. Unfortunately this was filling up with water which was then coming over the top, then building up on the flat roof to about a metre deep (three feet).

Taking damp readings with a Gann meter.


You can imagine the amount of water above these properties. This was then finding its way through the roof in one way or another generally seeping and soaking down into the brickwork. It would then come through the drainage points at a terrific rate.

Parapet wall



Water was through the only down pipe we could find


Water was also getting in around the roof lights


Equipment we use as Surveyors

Firstly we would comment that we use various pieces of equipment that aid us in reaching decisions such as;


Thermal imaging camera

The problem was that without being able to see the roof properly due to the snow and access being difficult because of the snow we ended up using cherry pickers to overlook the roof. However the photos from the thermal imaging camera were great and enabled us to show that the dampness was predominantly coming in via the walls and that this in turn was caused by the gutters being blocked so the water could not drain away.

Thermal image of commercial offices. The blue areas show the cold windows

Resistance Meter

This is sometimes known as the protimeter which is the most popular resistance meter and is almost a generic name. We use both protimeter's and Gann meters. In the photos above and to the right you can see us utilising a Gann meter. We like these because of their accuracy in giving readings rather than red, amber and green lights.

Testing for dampness with a Gann meter


However we would also warn against the use of these instruments by Damp Proof Companies as they are used, we would say, to help sell their product. It's not just about identifying that dampness is present it is about understanding the reason for it.


Blocked gutters and downpipes and human error!

Interestingly the gutters were blocked because the landlord had amended the bathroom and lounge windows on the nearby flat to allow them to open fully. People in the rooms were opening the windows and throwing things out of them which in turn caused the blocking of the gutters and downpipes below. The irony of this story is the landlord who was trying to charge the tenant for the problem was actually the one causing the problem.

We appreciate this is an unusual problem but it does explain and show the type of work we can do. We came up with several design solutions ranging from adding extra downpipes to enlarging the existing ones and closing the windows back up!


Freezing Pipes in commercial properties

Older offices, warehouses and shops are not known for their thermal insulation and energy efficiency. In fact generally no one even thought about energy efficiency until the 1970's. A good example of this is the sports centre we were involved with where the heat from the swimming pool was literally going through the roof as it was from the badminton courts, squash courts, bowls arena and offices.

Post war commercial building that is un-insulated



Literally the heat is going through the roof. In this case there was also bad condensation which was causing rust.


Old brick built industrial building with a metal profile sheet extension (red oval)

Insulation in commercial properties

With a little thought we were able to add insulation and a recycling system from the warm air within the swimming pool area which enabled the heating of the rest of the property the majority of the time.

As you can imagine this was a considerable saving and made a much nicer environment. We utilised a full air conditioning system to reduce the humidity content in the air that was drawn from the swimming pool area.

Insulation in a warehouse


The slow evolution of commercial energy efficient properties.

It's interesting how slow the commercial market has been with regard to adopting energy efficiency measures. We recall reading about Milton Keynes Shopping Centre (although we may have this wrong as it was a long time ago) where the amount of glazing used was such that they used the solar gain on one side to heat the other side. Whilst we are not necessarily thinking of innovations like this we certainly do think this is the future and the way forward whether we like it or not.

Modern office block with good thermal properties


Warehouse problems in the winter particularly with snow and ice

One of the many problems that we come across with warehouses during the winter months especially if we get a lot of snow and ice is that is that it really tests the quality of old roofs and gutters and downpipes and indeed the relatively poor quality of newer roofs. One of the big problems with many warehouses is that they have such a shallow pitched roof which does not allow the water to drain away quickly enough.


Warehouse with a shallow pitched roof


Frozen overflow to warehouse


Access to warehouse roofs can be difficult

If you were our client and you are looking to buy a warehouse or even lease a warehouse we would usually recommend looking at the roof as this is where many problems can occur.

We have established over the years that it is particularly hard for the typical jobbing builder to come and repair a warehouse roof as they tend to be higher than the average ladders that they carry with them and so are virtually inaccessible unless you organise a cherry picker, scissor lift or even scaffolding.

The height of warehouses can make them hard to access


Meanwhile the ice and the snow is blocking up the gutters, particularly valley gutters, and leads to dampness getting in and in turn possibly damaging any stock within the warehouse.

Scaffolding may be necessary to access warehouse roofs


Valley gutter on warehouse can become blocked with snow and ice causing dampness within the building

Valley gutters


Flat roofs and snow and ice

We have also come across all sorts of problems with snow and ice on large flat roofs which we feel tend to be carried out almost without proper thought and consideration of accessibility for repairs and clearing any debris that builds up on the roof.
We think this scenario comes about because the original developer and the architect and the landlord do not have experience working with buildings and certainly do not understand the costs involved and each are looking at the buildings from very different points of view.

Cold deck flat roof

The architect will see it from a design point of view; the developer will see it from a best returns point of view, dependent upon how much can be built on the land whilst the landlord will see it from the point of view of how much rent can be achieved from the buildings and the land. All of these are very valid points of view but they do not help the person who is occupying the property.

Warm deck flat roof


A restaurant, the large flat roof and the snowy day

We were called on a very snowy week to go and look at a roof that was causing major problems in a restaurant to the point that it had to be closed. Although we advised that as it was snowing we would have difficulty viewing the roof the owners were adamant that they wanted the survey carried out the week that they had had to close.


Large flat roof on a restaurant


We duly carried out the survey and not only was it snowing by the time we got there but there was heavy sleet as well which in the warmer moments turned into ice cold rain.

The basic problem was that the materials used had been applied poorly and we feel were not the most suitable for the job and the snow only emphasised these problems.

Ice cold rain during our Building Survey


Here are some other articles we have written about thermal issues and the weather

Energy Surveys or Energy Condition Reports vs Thermal Imaging

Snow causing winter house problems

Summer temperatures causing house problems!

Commercial Property


Energy efficient Green offices

The problems that we come across with offices are unique. We would say that the office market is probably leading the commercial sector with Green credentials and energy efficiency of the buildings and this is said to be affecting the rent levels.

Energy efficient offices


Many companies are not accepting anything other than high specification energy efficient offices. However this does leave what we would term as the ‘middle' office sector and the ‘starter or smaller' office sector where to some extent you can improve the thermal efficiency of your office but there are limitations on this due to the era of its construction. Anything built pre -1970's was not originally considered from a thermal efficiency point of view.

Modern office



1970s office block built around the time we started to think about insulation

The parking underneath this office block seem look like a good idea for the summer months but it will cause wind chill during the winter


Buildings that we enjoy assisting with and advising on

In recent years we have been carrying out work on churches and other places of worship and also schools, colleges and universities but we still feel there is considerable potential particularly on older buildings to improve the thermal performance of these buildings.



These buildings like the commercial buildings above can suffer from large areas of un-insulated flat roofs, poorly designed drainage and large areas of un-insulated single glazing and we have also worked on modular designs on schools such as the as the CLASP building system.


Single glazed Crittall window in a school



Further developments of the CLASP system were:


SCOLA – Second Consortium of Local Authorities


MACE – Metropolitan Architecture Consortium for Education

Close up of single glazed Crittall window


CLASP Defined

CLASP is an acronym for Consortium of Local Authorities Special Projects/ programmes which was a system developed in the 1950s by local authorities to advise a method of designing and assembling pre-fabricated buildings for use in the public sector;specifically schools.


Property problems with schools and our surveying solutions

The problem with schools is the large areas of glass that they often have to allow in natural light and visibility in the classroom and to allow heat out of course.

In addition to this there is normally a focus on building economically which often means that the whole life cycle of the property has not been looked at i.e. the cost of the building and not the cost of running the building.

Whole modular design building

We have sympathy for anyone that is working on a minimal budget with one of these properties. We would be more than happy to help please Free phone us on 0800 298 5424

Modular design school with large areas of single glazing.



Property problems with churches

The property problems we come across with churches often relates to their natural design of high ceilings as can also be the case in schools in areas such as the Assembly Hall. .


High ceiling in a church


Cold bridging and black mould


High ceilings can be particularly problematic in colder weather when these areas are heated or used only for relatively short periods of time. The heat that is generated along with the humidity can lead to condensation which in turn can lead to deterioration in paint work and black mould.
When this is combined with a portal frame or a steel frame it can cause cold bridging. This is particularly prevalent in icy weather.

Black mould caused by condensation



Portal frame

Steel or concrete frame

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, 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.


Here are some other articles from our website that you may be interested to read regarding cold bridging and thermal issues.

Condensation and Cold Bridging

Thermal problems with war years and post war years houses and homes

Thermal Imaging technology


Independent Surveyors

If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a surveyor with regard to valuations, mortgages, mortgage companies, surveys, building surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects report, structural surveys, home buyers reports or any other property matters please contact 0800 298 5424 for a surveyor to give you a call back.

Commercial Property

If you have a commercial property, whether it is freehold or leasehold then sooner or later you may get involved with dilapidation claims. You may wish to look at our Dilapidations Website at  and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site

We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).

The contents of the web site are for general information only and are not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions. Appropriate independent professional advice should be paid for before making such a decision.

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