I am looking for suggestions for the upkeep of Sussex bond for a house in Boston; can you assist? Does render make a difference?
Because brick has been used for constructing homes and other buildings for so many centuries, bricklayers and designers have devised a wide variety of designs for how the bricks are placed together, from the common and simple stretcher, Flemish and English bonds to the more complex Della Robbia Weave bond.
Some of the more typical issues are:
- frost attack and damage, where water gets into the brick’s pores and expands as it freezes
- spalling, where the brick flakes and crumbles, usually precipitated by other problems or the poor original construction of the brick
- efflorescence or staining, where salts, metals or other impurities are brought to the surface as the wall dries out
- sulphate attack, which is a serious issue causing instability, where the bricks are subjected to long-term water saturation causing the mortar to cease bonding
- wall-tie failure, where the wall-tie either rusts or wasn’t embedded in the mortar properly, resulting in the walls pulling apart
- weathering and disintegration, a particular problem where the brick is open to the harsher elements and weather
- mortar deterioration, where the bond between bricks breaks down; repointing will fix the problem if caught early enough
In all cases, your Surveyor Local chartered surveyor will inspect the condition of the walls (where the brick is visible) and check for issues, highlighting the state in the report, and making recommendations for remedial action (long-term or immediate) depending on what has been found. It is always worth getting a selection of quotes from accredited and recommended builders for any of the work that has been identified.
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Can clay soil foundations be the source of maintenance problems for a home I am buying in Boston, and will my surveyor look into this?
Subsidence is defined as sudden or gradual shrinkage in the soil that surrounds foundations of a building, forcing a downward settling of the building as the weight becomes too much for the subsoil to support as it once did, and it usually occurs with little or no movement along the horizontal.
The primary causes of subsidence are both natural and man-made:
- clay soil is particularly susceptible as it dries out
- dissolution or wearing of underground layers, such as rocks, permafrost or vegetative substances such as peat
- removal of subsoil fluid
- oxidation of soils where they comprise a significant organic construction
- mining and other extractions
- washing away of soils
- location of trees and other vegetation sucking up the moisture from the soil causing shrinkage
- damaged drains washing soil away from the foundations
- vibration from nearby heavy traffic
- nearby construction works
The Institution of Structural Engineers don’t recommend underpinning for the large majority of subsidence issues; rather this is treated as a last resort, where piles are dug and filled with concrete to support the existing foundations. Since the biggest percentage of subsidence issues are caused by trees and other plants in the vicinity draining the soil, judicious pruning or evening removal may be enough to rectify the problem (but note that such activity may also create other issues, so an expert’s advice should be sought). And, of course, if the drains are broken, then these should be repaired as soon as possible.
The opposite, but rarer, condition is known as ground heave, where the subsoil surrounding the foundations expands and, because it usually can’t move sideways, it is forced upwards. Note that the symptoms are quite similar to subsidence in terms of cracking or sticking windows and doors, but there will probably be other symptoms such as raising of patio slabs or lifting of decking.
Because of the severity of these issues, it is imperative that an expert chartered surveyor from Surveyor Local looks at the property in order to report on the condition, the diagnosis and recommendations for any immediate action to be taken to resolve the situation.
Why not give our advisers a quick call on 0800 022 4428 to establish your surveying needs and to obtain a quote for the survey type that best fits your needs?
When I visited the unmodernised property I intend to purchase in Boston, I think we saw that there is evidence of an overload of the fuses. Does the surveyor go into detail on any faults with the electrics?
One of the areas that your chartered surveyor will look into when they’re inspecting the property you are considering buying is the electrics, reporting on any findings where they suspect any part of the system to be in hazardous condition.
All new electrical work needs to be covered under the British standard regulations (BS 7671), which are properly called the Electrical Installation and Wiring Safety regulations and cover domestic, commercial and industrial properties, as well as marinas, fairgrounds, external public swimming pools, caravan parks, and other areas where electricity may create a potential hazard for any occupants.
For the residential properties, it covers all wiring, the circuit-breakers, residual current devices (RCDs), sockets, and so on, while also focusing on special areas such as bathrooms (e.g. heating or shaving sockets), swimming pools (internal or external), ponds, or portable outdoor equipment.
As part of the building regulations approval in an extension or new-build, or where the electrical circuits have been updated, an electrical certificate, signed off by a qualified electrician, needs to be supplied to comply with the requirements. This document will be sought and checked by your Surveyor Local surveyor.
In addition, the IEE (Institute of Electrical Engineers) recommends that a periodic inspection be completed every 10 years on private residential property, or every 5 years if you are renting out the property to tenants, or you own a commercial building. Again, your Surveyor Local chartered surveyor will identify the Periodic Inspection Review document’s existence and confirm its validity and status.
When preparing a Boston RICS Level 3 Survey, an RICS surveyor will inspect all accessible parts of the electrical system, noting the location and likely age of the fuse-board, and includes a visual assessment of the superficial parts of the wiring, without taking anything apart for safety reasons. In addition to verifying areas connected to the mains (e.g. the whereabouts of the meter or consumer unit), the surveyor will also choose a selection of sockets and light-switches to ensure they are operating normally.
In the survey report, the surveyor will highlight all of the findings, including identifying those areas that they are unable to access, which might need further investigation by a qualified electrician. Where there are areas of concern, particularly where the electrical circuits and wiring don’t conform to the British standard, the surveyor will recommend that immediate action be taken. It is wise to obtain a couple of quotes for any major rewiring activities, as this can be used to enter into renegotiations over the asking price with the seller.
Get an appointment in the diary for a brilliant chartered surveyor to check out your planned purchase by call Surveyor Local’s waiting team on 0800 022 4428.
I am buying a stone-walled, converted barn in Boston; are there specific problems to bear in mind?
Britain's geology has encouraged the use of many varieties of stone, from Orton Scar Limestone to Swaledale Fossil Limestone. Buyers should also be aware that the potential severity of issues, like delamination, will vary with the particular type of stone. Irregular stone walls are not uncommon to properties but dressed (cut) stone may also be used around doors and window frames.
Both regular and irregular stone can be cemented with one of two types of lime-based mortar: hydraulic and non-hydraulic. It is essential that the type of mortar be identified before any work be attempted. A survey will include a range of suggestions or requirements for maintenance, such as replacing missing or badly worn stones.
Try our instant quote generator on the Surveyor Local website, or you could try talking to one of our waiting team on 0800 022 4428 to establish which survey would be best for you and to obtain your free quote.
There is a semi-detached house in the Boston area priced at £140,000. What things does a surveyor consider when calculating house prices?
A qualified RICS surveyor will go to the property as well as considering the wealth of area knowledge and factors that have a bearing on the value of property. There are a huge number of issues that could affect house prices (for example, the quality of nearby schools, or whether the garden is overlooked). It can help to benchmark selling-prices recorded for similar properties in Boston.
This means the average price of completed transactions for semi-detached houses in Boston in November 2018 was £130,920, which is £9,080 less than the asking price for the cited property. With regards to other types of property, the averages for the same month in Boston were:
Information © 2019 HM Land Registry. Retrieved from HM Land Registry website on 8 February 2019
An impartial way to get a formal house valuation is with a RICS Level 2 Survey, which includes a Property Valuation Report (PVR) as a core component. A qualified RICS surveyor will be part of the Valuer Registration Scheme, which reinforces professional standards.
If you need further guidance, why not try our online Home Survey Quote generator (scroll to the top of the page and fill in a few pieces of information) or call our team on 0800 022 4428.
Does an RICS surveyor examine the condition or the safety of the gas mains supply at a home we want to buy in Boston?
Everyone is aware that the volatility and the highly inflammable nature of natural gas make it a very dangerous substance if not regulated and checked by qualified experts. It is also for this reason that, where there is a gas supply to a property, your chartered surveyor will inspect the system.
All work on gas appliances and connection to the mains must comply with the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, while any new heat-producing gas appliance is installed (e.g. a cooker hob, or gas fire) requires the Local Authority to be informed so that it will comply with building regulations in order to gain the requisite approval.
A certificate of works will be provided by a qualified Gas Safe engineer, and this will be sought and checked for validity and status by the surveyor during the inspection.
As part of the survey, the chartered surveyor will visually check all the accessible parts of the gas system, such as the meter location and position and any gas-connected fixtures like chimney breasts or flues. However, if there are any fittings, they won't be dislodged for inspection, and neither will they remove covers or piping since they are not qualified to do so.
Where the surveyor identifies any area for potential concern, they will note this in the survey report, with recommendations for any remedial action to be taken, alongside a measure of severity. Where a problem is deemed critical, if only for a qualified engineer to check and assess the situation, any significant cost can be used to open up conversations with the seller about the possibility of offsetting such a cost by reducing the asking price.
Gas is potentially hazardous and, should you have any concerns about it, call a Gas Safe engineer. If you smell gas, call the free national Gas Emergency Services number immediately on 0800 111 999.
Local highly-rated Gas Safe engineers in the area include:
- John Bark Plumbing & Heating Ltd., 68 St. Leodegars Close, Boston, PE21 7DX (Tel: 07970 660787)
- Peace of Mind Plumbing & Heating of 47, The Featherworks, Boston, PE21 0AF (Tel: 07825 916026)
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We are buying in Boston, and think we saw signs of insects in the loft conversion; should we get a property surveyor?
The issue of pests in and around the home is often seen as a small or minor, even irrelevant, inconvenience or annoyance that simply needs to be accepted and managed. However, the threat of many pests is very real and, with certain examples, will have a risk to the occupants’ health or destroy the fabric and structure of a building.
In addition, evidence of an infestation of pests is not always easy to find. Some obvious examples of common pests include:
- rodents – gnawing through electric cables, causing fire risk, timber, pipes and brickwork, coupled with their ability to produce many offspring very quickly and the risk of transporting harmful bacteria around the home makes mice and rats a significant pest to remove
- cockroaches – multiplying very quickly and spreading disease through food (primarily) and their ability to hide in crevices and difficult to find places makes cockroaches a major source of concern and difficult to remove
- death-watch beetle – their characteristic tapping to attract a mate leads to sleepless nights (the vigil for dying people being the origin of the name), while their propensity for boring through wood threatens to destroy the supporting beams in ceilings, roofs and floors
- woodworm – another woodboring pest that turns wood into dust and can seriously and quickly undermine the structure of a property
- carpet beetle larvae – textile-destroying pests
- woodlice – although not a major pest themselves, they are a potential indication of damp within the property
Your chartered surveyor will look out for evidence of the common problems, such as droppings or holes in wood, and make recommendations based on the severity of the problem and how recent the infestation appears to be. Solutions may include the use of poisons, insecticides and traps, but more humane ways of removing pests are available. It’s always worth obtaining a number of quotes from companies qualified to handle such issues so that you can request a reduction in the asking price from the seller.
Because there are so many different pests, the chartered surveyor will not be able to test and check for every single type other than the common instances. If you suspect that a specific issue with pests exists, then you should bring it to your surveyor’s attention and they will be able to focus on finding the particular evidence, should it exist.
You can also speak to an expert, like Pestforce, located at Rodgers Land, Hilldyke, Boston, PE22 0RJ (Tel: 01205 750068), for more detail.
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What should I be fearful of when buying a maisonette in the region of the Boston Landfill Site, and landfill sites generally?
A ‘landfill site’ is the generic term given for specialist locations licensed by the government (and the Environment Agency) for any material that won’t be recycled or reused to be dumped, buried or collected in one place. Because of the shortage of new locations for landfill, and the reduction in available space at existing ones, this explains the drive for better recycling options.
However, be aware that recycling areas can present as much of a hazard as the familiar dumping sites, with noxious chemicals spilling into the environment, either in the ground, through the water-table, the drains or airborne, especially where waste is burnt.
Specialist licenses are required for those companies operating such sites, and these are inspected to ensure that all legal measures are being correctly enforced and complied with.
Whether it’s a local authority tip, a recycling centre, or a true landfill site, no-one would willingly wish to live in close proximity to one (although the large majority of the British population do). For this reason, it makes complete sense for your surveyor to check out the environmental and structural impact of such necessary waste management sites on the property you are wishing to buy, not only from the environmental side of things but also from the traffic passing in and out of the site and how the vibrations might be impacting the foundations and the environs.
Where there is cause for concern, or if there appears to contamination that is attributable directly to such sites, your surveyor will note this in the report and highlight the severity for remedial action, often placing it in the section for consideration by your conveyancing solicitor to look into with the appropriate authorities.
Your Surveyor Local surveyor will have a deep knowledge of the local area and will therefore be aware of where landfill sites have been closed and built over. In some instances, movement in what has been buried may be a cause or start of subsidence, and they will be able to advise accordingly.
If you have any more concerns, why not contact our advisers at Surveyor Local on 0800 022 4428 to identify the appropriate survey for your needs and to get your free quote?