There may be a danger of white asbestos flooring materials at the house in Hertfordshire; what are the options?
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 (amosite), blue (crocidolite), and green (anthophyllite).
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.
Commonly called asbestosis, the curly or needle-shaped fibres usually caused mesothelioma (attack on the lining of the lungs, causing cancer). However, breathing in a single fibre will not be injurious, nor will it risk death.
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 remove asbestos yourself, this practice is thoroughly resisted by experts because of the danger that amateur removals may incur to you 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.
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I am investing in a ‘doer-upper’, regency cottage in Berkhamsted; is it necessary 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.
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 chartered surveyor will investigate and inspect all accessible parts of the structure, as well as those areas visible by other means (e.g. through binoculars). 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.
Ready to get your survey booked in with one of the best chartered surveyors around? Call Surveyor Local on 0800 038 6667 and our friendly team of advisers will be able to help you.
What negative impact does clay soil have on a home's foundations? Will a Hertfordshire house survey look into this?
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.
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
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.
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 inspects the property in Hertfordshire in order to report on the condition, the diagnosis and recommendations for any immediate action to be taken to resolve the situation.
Get your instant survey quote from Surveyor Local by filling in a few quick details in the form at the top of this page. When you’re ready to get a survey booked in, call us on 0800 038 6667 and one of our team of advisers will assign you to a great chartered surveyor.
What effect can rainfall have on a Hemel Hempstead home and will the Building Survey report on this? Also, if there are problems, will they be expensive to fix?
Despite England's reputation for wet weather, the impact that rainfall can have on homes is often overlooked by buyers. If you have investigated the house you are buying on a clear, dry day, issues with moisture might have been hidden, and may lead to staining of wallpaper and damp. These problems are, generally speaking, straightforward to remedy. Where this is untreated or poorly maintained, though, the damage becomes increasing costly to remedy.
The Environment Agency has estimated that around 1 in every 6 homes around the country is at risk from some sort of flooding, with more than half of those susceptible from surface water alone. The risk of floods needs to be taken seriously, since ingress of water to a property can threaten safety as well as causing major damage and disruption in the aftermath. It also has an impact on the property’s value and its insurability and the premiums that will be required to be paid. So, it makes sense to get your survey carried out by an experienced firm like Surveyor Local.
Because of the increasing likelihood of flooding in the UK and the problems it causes, it becomes an essential part of looking for a new home to establish its history with flooding and the risk to the local area.
There are several steps that can be taken:
- use the Environment Agency’s flood information service for the current situation
- search for your location on the Environment Agency’s flood map for planning service to establish the level of risk of flooding (based on historical and geographical information)
- appoint a specialist search provider to identify the position in more detail (you can talk to your conveyancing solicitor about this option and costs)
- check with the sellers to confirm anecdotal evidence of prior flooding issues
The chartered surveyor will check the likely impact of any flooding on the property and its contents, providing recommendations to reduce or even eliminate the effects should it occur. Call Surveyor Local now on 0800 038 6667 to be assigned to one of the best chartered surveyors available.
Our Hertfordshire agent said that wet rot had been a concern; what does a building surveyor look for during the survey?
If the roof at a property you are buying has a major issue that needs to be resolved, your Surveyor Local chartered surveyor will easily identify it and its cause, providing recommendations for remedial courses of actions.
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 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. Since most roofing work, other than simple maintenance tasks, will likely cost a lot of money to resolve, obtaining a number of quotes for any work might be a useful bargaining tool to renegotiate the agreed price with the seller.
Looking for a thorough and proactive chartered surveyor with a wealth of local knowledge? Call Surveyor Local on 0800 038 6667 and one of our advisers will be happy to help you.
Will a Hertfordshire house with stone walls create issues? Are there any major matters that we should be aware of, and does the surveyor give advice on this?
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.
Time to get your move kicked off! Call Surveyor Local on 0800 038 6667 now to get assigned to a chartered surveyor today.
Will the Hertfordshire surveyor advise on the condition of the gas 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 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.
Fill in the form at the top of this page to get your instant survey quote. Then call Surveyor Local on 0800 038 6667 to book an appointment with one of the best chartered surveyors.
We are planning on investing in a property in St. Albans for an asking price of £439,000. What things does an RICS chartered surveyor evaluate when estimating house prices in Hertfordshire?
There are a great number of factors which could positively or negatively affect the price of property, such as the amount of ground-rent or the local crime statistics. It often helps to benchmark selling prices achieved in the nearby area for properties comparable with the one you want to buy.
A Property Valuation Report is not a survey per se, although it is an associated product that chartered surveyors can offer, on the proviso that they are also a registered valuer. This is something that Surveyor Local can add to your choice of survey, and, if required, you only need to pick up the phone to us on 0800 038 6667 to discuss your particular needs and we’ll get the right service set up for you with the minimum of fuss.
A Property Valuation Report is requested when a definitive answer on the value of a property is required. Note that it’s not the same as a market appraisal, which is a guide or estimate to the property price that has absolutely no legal standing.
The report looks at the location of the property, its features, size and age, while it considers the identified problems and issues within its boundaries.
The price of a Property Valuation Report starts from £249, which includes VAT and is fixed), dependent on the size of the property being valued. If you would like a Property Valuation Report added to either your Building Survey or HomeBuyer Report, please contact one of our team of friendly advisers on 0800 038 6667 and they will be happy to get things set up for you so that you are ready to get going today!