Home Buyers Survey County Durham
Your questions answered by a RICS Surveyor in County Durham
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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 months in 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).
We are planning to buy a home and the vendor has informed us that it has been built with Portland stone. What should we look in to, and what does the survey cover?
External wall maintenance is essential to the health of County Durham buildings. Defects such as deteriorating bedding affect many stone-walled County Durham buildings. Stone quarried in the area is common to local County Durham buildings, but some do also feature cut stone brought from outside the county. Both regular or irregular stone can be mortared with lime-based mortar, though the use of this declined with the introduction of cement. These walls will need frequent upkeep.
Ask you surveyor for details, but the report may specify clearing of ivy-like plant life and weeds.
Ask your surveyor for clarification if you are in doubt as to likely maintenance, particularly if the house in question is listed or located in a conservation area. Contact a local mine or quarry, e.g. Todhills Brickworks Quarry, Todhills Brickworks, Newfield, Newfield, Bishop Auckland, Co Durham, DL14 8BA for details. Call 01388 604071 for more information.
What effect should rain have on a County Durham building? Could it affect the property value?
The impact of climate change is widely reported, yet the impact wet conditions can have on a house is ignored. If you have investigated the home in good weather, obvious defects may be harder to find.
That is not to say that drainage problems should cause you to reconsider a purchase. They are usually a simple matter to repair fairly cheaply.