Open Today: 9am - 6pm

I agree for Surveyor Local to contact me.


10 May, 2024/ by Surveyor Local /News

It's very easy to avoid the consequences of ignoring potentially serious structural problems when it comes to buying your latest home. This is especially so when you've fallen in love with its look, its location, the amenities and anything else that was important on the list of ‘must haves' when looking for a property.

Very rarely do people put “must be structurally sound” as a critical requirement on that list, which means that when the majority of the other desires are met, a small crack here and there might not register as immediately important.

However, to ignore the plight of the property in these situations might create a money pit if you continue with the purchase without addressing these structural problems.

The most common structural problems when buying a house

The most common issues, particularly in older properties, or those where the maintenance has not been as focused as it could have been, are sometimes also hidden by what appears benign on the face of it.

These problems include (but aren't limited to):

  • Subsidence - this is probably one of most familiar issues to befall a property. 

It is created by the earth and soil around the foundations being removed (usually by the effects of flooding washing the support away) or it drying out (such as when a tree has been planted close by and is sucking the moisture from the ground). 

Whatever the cause, the result is the creation of a void into which the foundations slip and drop. 

Symptoms are usually large cracks forming in the external walls, particularly running to the corners of windows and doors, resulting in them being suddenly difficult to open, or the floors become uneven.

  • Heave - this is the sibling of subsidence and is created by the opposite effect from the soil around the foundations becoming waterlogged (perhaps because a tree has been removed and is no longer drawing moisture from the soil). The soil then expands with the extra moisture and applies outward and upward pressure to the external walls. 

Symptoms commonly show as the walls bulging, as well as cracks that are often seen with subsidence.

  • Settlement - every building naturally settles after it has been built. 

However, if allowances in the construction have not been made, it may result in too much settlement occurring, with the building sinking down, tipping or creating a similar problem found with subsidence when only part of the building settles more than the rest.

  • Flooding and water seepage - if there is inadequate airflow through the building, poor or non-existent damp-course proofing, or poor general maintenance introducing ingress points for water, the liquid will find a way into structure. Usually, this will happen over a period of time with timbers rotting (floorboards, joists, roof timbers, etc.). 

Symptoms include appearance of different types of mould, bouncing floors, sagging roofs and so on.

The causes of any structural instability could be from a straightforward cause or a combination of problems, from poor construction, through severe weather conditions and poor drainage, to flooding and the volatility of the soil upon which the property is built (in combination with the construction methods and the materials used).

Whatever the cause, and regardless of whether there exist current warranties on any building works, it is essential that you don't ignore the evidence before you.

However, there is also the concern that some of these problems are at the starting point and aren't necessarily exhibiting the worst of the symptoms yet. Again, you should look at the property with wariness with regards its structural integrity and think about getting a professional surveyor to give their assessment of the building and how much effort and cost is going to come your way to fix any extant problems.

If it's a home that was built after 1900 and is of common construction methods, it is advisable to order a Level 2 Homebuyers Survey. Older properties and those of unusual construction of recent additions might be better to order the more detailed RICS Level 3 Survey for your peace of mind.

The surveyor will complete their assessment of the building and its environs and put their findings into a report, which is presented using an easy-to-understand traffic light system: 

  • red for serious issues that must be rectified immediately; 
  • amber for problems that don't need fixing straight away but will need to be addressed soon; 
  • and green for anything that is satisfactory and needs no immediate action. 

They will also provide advice on remedial work that's required with a broad estimate of how much that is likely to cost - this can be used as an excellent negotiation tool with the seller regarding the asking price.

And that's where it is really worth contacting Surveyor Local

Surveyor Local only works with members of RICS to offer home buyers a comprehensive range of surveys that are affordable and will provide the information required on a property. 

Your appointed surveyor will be local to the property you are buying so they will know the area and bring that knowledge to their assessment and their analysis of the issues with the new home.

Not only will the surveyor work hard to find all the problems affecting the property, they will also be keen to adopt new and proven technology in order to give the best survey possible.

Surveyor Local will provide a quote that will not change - what you are quoted is what you pay. 

Next-day bookings are usually available, and your appointed surveyor will look after arranging access to the property with the estate agent and the seller. Once the survey is complete, they will send you a PDF copy of the report by email.

Call  to get your survey quote started, or to discuss your concerns with the acquisition of your planned property.

Or you can get a quick quote, using Surveyor Local's easy-to-use quote generator. Simply input your name, postcode, email address, phone number and an approximate value of the property (usually the agreed price), and we'll give you an instant quote for the work (with an email copy). 

We'll do the rest once you confirm your acceptance of the quote.

Share this news post:

More from this category