I recently carried out a survey of a fully refurbished semi-detached house that was previously derelict. The client was planning to have a loft conversion but was mainly concerned about the condition of the roof and if re-covering will be required sooner rather than later. I met the client onsite during the survey inspection and he indicated his areas of concern such as a leaning gable wall and leaking roof to the front bay window. As I followed my trail of suspicion, I was shocked by the number of poor repairs and workmanship not only to the roof and bay, but throughout the refurbished property.
The two areas that jumped out the most while surveying this property were the roof and front bay window.
Whilst inspecting the roof internally, I noticed there were bricks that had been removed from the gable which had likely resulted in the leaning when viewed externally. Cavities are bonded with wall ties to provide restraint to the two skins of the cavity walls. When the ties or either of the two skins is removed, the wall will become unstable causing the wall to lean inwards or outwards. The gable could collapse at any time which is a major Health and Safety risk.
Is a loft conversion possible at this point? Yes. However, the gable will need to be reconstructed by a competent contractor prior to developing the loft.
When I got round to the front bay window, I noticed it showed a DIY manner as the window, flashings and brickwork were not done correctly. There were also increased external ground level vents installed but these were above the subfloor. Dampness was observed internally below the sill level and in the top left corner of the bay. Wet and dry rot will likely occur in the future due to external ground levels bridging the internal suspended timber floors.
Is the property habitable after the refurbishment? Technically, yes. Would I enjoy a cup of tea in the lounge? Maybe not.
It will be difficult to eradicate dampness in the lounge without completely reconstructing the bay to modern Building Regulations and reducing the external ground levels at least 150mm below ground level.
According to Regulation 7 of the Building Regulations,
Building work shall be carried out with
a) adequate and proper materials –
(i) are appropriate for the circumstances in which they are used,
(ii) are adequately mixed and prepared, and
(iii) are applied, used or fixed so as adequately to perform the functions for which they are designed; and
b) in a workmanlike manner
Therefore, the property should have been carried out in compliance with Building Regulations.
Overall, the property is in need of repair and restoration as the current state may deter some prospective buyers. I must say that my first impression was totally different when I initially viewed the property on Rightmove as the property was well presented. But of course, it was a different story upon my survey inspection.
I learnt that there’s always more than meets the eye whatever the age and type of the property. I believe having a survey done is as important as buying a house and is probably one of the biggest investments we will make in our lives.
By Jay Basa