Home Buyers Survey County Durham
Your questions answered by a RICS Surveyor in County Durham
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What should we be aware of when buying a house proximate to Hill Top Quarry and landfill sites generally
Sites used for landfill take many forms e.g. industrial refuse. Thousands of sites affect many thousands of people in the UK including County Durham. Risks might include structurally instability. Potential health concerns such as gut problems have been linked to landfill sites .
Surveyors in County Durham will note structural issues connected with the landfill. Your solicitor will commission conveyancing and environmental searches of the British Geological database as well as County Durham Local Authority and inform you of any issues and let you know if the searches fail .
The vendor has mentioned that there could be asbestos cement sheets at the building. What are the issues with asbestos and will this be a hazard?
Buildings constructed prior to the eighties might contain some asbestos based materials. Asbestos is a noxious silicate material. The 3 main types are Blue, Brown and White and they were commonly used in building materials such as toilet cistern. Its use is widespread, for example - as it has a range of useful characteristic heat resistance qualities and it may be found in textured coatings. It is mainly found in South Africa. All forms are carcinogenic and can lead to lung cancer following prolonged exposure. Contrary to breathing in a single fibre is not deadly.
Care should be taken if asbestos is discovered never to displace the asbestos and professional advice must be taken without delay. Professional removal of asbestos is costly but absolutely must be conducted by professionals. Surveyors will not verify the presence of asbestos during the survey. They will mention potential asbestos and will recommend relevant tests.
What is subsidence? What can be done to resolve subsidence if it is identified?
Subsidence refers to the movement of a building and its foundations. Subsidence and settlement are often confused. Settlement will often occur in recently built buildings, and is rarely a cause for concern. The structure's weight can cause the ground beneath the foundations to compact, this should quickly settle. In the case of new builds, the builder should return to a new building after six monthsin order to repair settlement damage.
New cracks wider than 3mm to the bricks or render outside the property, or cracks which were stable, but are showing signs of fresh movement,may indicate subsidence. Signs of potential subsidence include fresh cracks in brick or plaster.
Identifying what has caused the subsidence is a necessary first step. The removal of trees may make the problem worse, however, so professional advice should be sought. Existing trees must be well managed, and new trees should be planted at a safe distance from the exterior walls of the property. Beech and sycamore trees, for example, should be planted at least 15m from a property. In some more serious situations, underpinning may be necessary. Underpinning involves holes being dug 1 metre long and around 1.5 metres deep, along all affected sections of wall, and just beneath the present foundations. Reinforcement bars and concrete are then inserted into these pits to support the structure, as the rest of the foundations are dug out and similarly filled in with concrete. Damaged but non-structural elements should be filled and re-weatherproofed. A surveyor will be able to recommend who to speak to about the best course of action, to remedy both the causes of the subsidence and the resulting damage to the property itself.
For more details or to arrange repairs, speak to a County Durham builder or specialist, such as Col-Myr Builders (26 Valley View, Sacriston, Durham, DH7 6NX) or Dunn T Ltd (20 Quebec St, Langley Park, Durham, DH7 9XA).