A neighbour of a place we want to buy in Essex mentioned a risk of brown asbestos in the property’s boiler cupboard; should we be concerned?
Asbestos is the general name given to the group of six fibrous materials that are now known to be harmful to organisms, when the dust or fibrils are released into the environment (by any number of processes including abrasion).
Asbestos has been mined for hundreds of years, but it was only in the last century that it was found to be so detrimental to health, although it still took until 1999 for there to be an outright ban in the UK, as part of an EU-wide directive, even though restrictions were placed from 1985.
The most common type found in the UK is white asbestos (chrysotile), which was often used in roofs, floors, ceilings, walls and insulation, thereby appearing in all manner of construction materials. From 1986, it was only white asbestos that remained in use in the UK for construction purposes. The other types are brown, blue, and green asbestos.
Often considered to be a ‘miracle’ material before its deleterious effects were understood, asbestos was chosen for its resistance to fire and electricity, its tensile strength, and its sound-proofing qualities, coupled with its relative cheapness to produce.
During a survey, your chartered surveyor will not be able to confirm the existence of asbestos, since they will not investigate further than visual inspection because of the dangers highlighted above. However, they will be experienced in looking for it and will report their suspicions in the survey, recommending that it be checked out thoroughly.
Although you are legally allowed to removed asbestos yourself, this practice is thoroughly resisted by experts because of the danger that amateur removals may incur on yourself and your neighbours. Therefore, it is recommended that you appoint an expert to confirm its presence and to safely remove it. The register of expert contractors can be found here: the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association.
All the chartered surveyors who work with Surveyor Local have a breadth of experience in dealing with problems and effects associated with asbestos, so, if you’re at all concerned, you should choose Surveyor Local for a cheap but high-quality surveying solution. Want to see how much a survey will be for your planned purchase in Essex? Simply fill in a small handful of details in our form at the top of this page for your cheap, instant Surveyor Local quote. If you’re ready to instruct a surveyor to examine your property, call our team of advisers now on 0800 038 6667.
For a substantially-modified, Edwardian, end-of-terrace property in Essex, do I need to go for a full structural survey?
What was formerly known as the Full Structural Survey has been rebranded by the RICS and is now called the Building Survey. This product is a comprehensive inspection by a chartered surveyor, and it provides an inspection of the building(s) at the property, a full survey report of the findings, both good and bad, and a property valuation (if specifically requested and carries an additional cost).
The customer can choose this type of survey for any property that they are buying, but the RICS recommends that it is most suitable for:
- Listed buildings and some properties in conservation areas
- Properties that were built more than 50 years ago
- Properties that you want to extend, change significantly, or update in an integral way
- Buildings that have been recently subjected to such change
- Properties of an unusual construction, or built with unusual materials, irrespective of their age
The duration of the assessment of the property depends entirely on the type of construction, its location and its size, but generally, it will take about a day to carry out the inspection and up to two weeks to receive the report, although Surveyor Local works hard to minimise this time where possible without impacting the quality of the service provided. The price of the Building Survey is dependent on the location, size and construction of the property, but the cost usually comes in between £500 and £1,300.
Want to see how cheap Surveyor Local’s services are, without compromising on the quality provided? Get your instant quote by filling in our simple form (scroll to the top of this page to get started), or, if you want to organise a surveyor to visit the property you want to buy, call Surveyor Local’s waiting team of advisers on 0800 038 6667 right now.
Are there any problems I should consider when planning to buy a building in Essex in the conservation area around St. Osyth?
The small town of St. Osyth is in a conservation area, which has been classified as in 'poor condition' by English Heritage, with medium vulnerability and deteriorating. For detailed information, contact the St. Osyth conservation area administrator (William Fuller on 01255 686188).
There are 9,300 official conservation areas throughout England and Wales and these are governed by the local authority. St. Osyth is monitored by Tendring District Council located at Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, CO15 1SE (Tel: 01255 686868).
Essex surveyors are required by the RICS to have detailed knowledge of relevant local issues and the effect they have on the building, including the requirements of being in a conservation area, regardless of its current state.
Prices for property in a conservation area are generally higher than for non-conservation-area equivalents due to them being in their original state. Similarly, you should budget more for ongoing maintenance costs as these are likely to be higher than for a house outside the area.
RICS surveyors can be expected to advise you whether the location is in a designated area, and Section I of the Homebuyer Report will advise the proper questions to be raised during the conveyancing process. Unconsented adjustments (including installation of solar panels, satellite dishes or the construction of new walls) to the building should be noted in the survey, but these are more a concern for your conveyancing solicitor.
Time to get a surveyor on board so you know what to expect from your property? Call Surveyor Local’s team of advisers now on 0800 038 6667 now.
For the loft-conversion in Brightlingsea we are buying, what should we do about any roof repairs?
The problem with roofs is that they are most likely to have problems because they are hit harder by the elements and weathering than other parts of the home’s structure. In addition, there are so many different types of roof design (e.g. bonnet, gambrel, open gable, cross-hipped, clerestory, skillion, flat, butterfly, dormer, mansard, etc.), each with their particular foibles and points of weakness, that, even if the structure looks sound, they could well be harbouring a hidden issue. Our surveyors are experts and thorough during their inspection.
The types of material used in their construction can also be a source of problems, whether it is the familiar shingles or slate, shaped or flat, metals like zinc, aluminium, stainless steel, lead or copper, or other coverings such as bituminous felt, plastic, resin or fibreglass.
From purlins to parapet walls, the whole roof will be inspected in detail during the survey. Your property surveyor may then recommend that some faults need urgent attention, and, if it warrants it, you might wish to renegotiate the asking price to cater for at least some of this expense.
The expense of insulating the attic, or other major roof work, means that some owners are tempted to put it off for as long as possible. This is a false economy, as such issues can lead to more severe general structural problems. A quote for the work could be sought from a reliable builder in Brightlingsea so that you know what you are taking on.
The surveyor may find, during the inspection, a number of relatively minor issues that, without remedial work, may become a more serious – and expensive – problem to resolve. These include missing, loose or cracked tiles, worn felting, blocked gullies and gutters, worn or cracked flashing, leaking skylights, mould and rot (internally and externally), weathered materials, timber pests and rot, blocked drainage, roof sag, ponding or pooling.
Most roofing work, unless you are planning a major extension, won’t require planning permission, but may require building regulations certification. Your surveyor will be happy to advise.
How much will your Brightlingsea survey cost you? With Surveyor Local, we provide cheap quotes without compromising on the service, which means that you get one of the best surveyors available for a highly-competitive rate. Fill in our form at the top of this page, or, if you’re ready to make an appointment with a surveyor, call Surveyor Local’s friendly team of advisers on 0800 038 6667.
We want to buy a 1979-built apartment in Colchester and have spotted that the lounge floor is quite uneven. What’s the effect on the property, and what options are available to resolve it?
One of the principal defects that a chartered surveyor will look for during the inspection of a property is the dreaded subsidence, which conjures up images of sagging walls, large cracks along the property and even collapse.
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.
Familiar symptoms of subsidence are:
- the appearance of new cracks more than 3mm wide in the walls; however, not all cracks are an indication of subsidence and may be natural settlement. This is why it’s so important to get a chartered surveyor, like those available from Surveyor Local, involved to check it out and give you their expert opinion and advice
- cracks forming in obvious weak spots, such as the corners of window- and door-frames
- windows and doors beginning to stick where they haven’t before
- new extension parting company with the rest of the property
- sinking of patios and other hard structures in the garden
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.
Want one of county’s best surveyors to assess the property you want to buy? Contact Surveyor Local on 0800 038 6667 to get started with a quote or fill in a few simple details on our form (scroll to the top of this page to get started).
We are buying an old converted barn in Essex, but will the property’s age be a problem?
There are many buyers who would really love to own an old, characterful home purely because of that character and the romanticism of its charm and appeal, particularly if it’s coupled with a great location.
With such a dream, though, comes the consideration of the construction and what it means in terms of ongoing maintenance and remedying any existing problems as part of its purchase. This is because such properties are likely to have been built employing the older construction methods and materials, and this might occasionally give buyers second thoughts as a result of the stress and worry about its upkeep.
The obvious traditional (or ‘vernacular’) techniques in the construction include cob (a mixture of clay soil, straw, and sand), wattle and daub (limestone and horse-hair), straw bales, timber beams for wall construction, thatched roofs, adobe, and hemp, all of which can be very challenging to maintain. You should be aware that expert knowledge may also be needed before buying so that the condition of the materials and structure can be fully checked out and estimates provided for any remedial work. In addition, certain materials suitable for the work may be required to be sourced, particularly if the building is listed or is in a conservation area, which might be expensive.
All the surveyors at Surveyor Local have a broad and deep knowledge of the local area, so will be able to identify these issues where they might exist at your Essex property. Like to get a cheap quote from us? Fill in the simple details in the form at the top of this page. If you want to secure the services of one of the best surveyors available in the county, you can pay 10% of the quoted value online. Or, if you’re ready to set up a survey appointment, call 0800 038 6667 to talk to one of Surveyor Local’s friendly advisers.
Will a qualified RICS surveyor go into detail on the condition of the gas mains supply?
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 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 or opened 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.
To get your survey under way with Surveyor Local, it only takes a quick call on 0800 038 6667 to one of our waiting advisers.
Should I be worried when buying a Chelmsford maisonette, which is near a landfill site?
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.
An interactive map of the location of UK’s current operational landfill sites can be found online, such as this one by Anyjunk.
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). Your surveyor will check the 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, your surveyor will note this in the report and emphasise the severity, often highlighting it for consideration by your conveyancing solicitor.
Your accredited chartered surveyor with Surveyor Local has a huge amount of experience in dealing with assessments on homes in locations close to landfill sites, so they will be able to give you the best advice. Want to appoint a surveyor now? Call Surveyor Local’s team of advisers now on 0800 038 6667.