Why Your Floors May Be The Weakest Link In A Building Survey

Does something feel uneasy on the feet? Keep reading!

A building survey is an extremely detailed, ‘full’ survey of a building. It can be a process initiated by a homebuyer, and is most often used when a property satisfies a few unique criteria.

The survey is rigorous and takes some time to complete and report on. It's a way to value a property too, and can be used for that purpose.

Buyers usually initiate a building survey for more complex properties, but it can be instigated for an average house purchase.

Which properties are involved?

As stated earlier, any property can be subject to a building survey, but the traditional types are listed below:

  • Listed buildings. These are properties that are on the ‘list’ - the Statutory List of Buildings of Special or Architectural or Historic Interest. It makes perfect sense to have these subject to a building survey, due to their age

  • Properties that are older than 50 years in age. Again, having a rigorous survey of these buildings is sensible

  • Unusual buildings. There are some properties that are built in a less than traditional manner usually by architects or “non standard construction” properties that are not built by traditional brick or stone walls or a roof constructed by title or slate

  • Altered buildings. These are properties that have been renovated or altered, or that are about to be renovated or altered

What is the survey process?

During a survey all the visible parts of a building will come under scrutiny. There are certain areas that will not be seen, but the process in full includes:

  • A list of any defects, no matter how small, in the building. The survey will also highlight what the defects mean for the integrity of the building

  • Information about any alterations to any supporting walls. If this is rel

  • evant, details of the alteration will be given in the survey report

  • Information about any renovations in the home that, for whatever reason, did not have planning permission

  • Details of any damage to the timbers of t

  • he building

  • Details of any large trees close to the property (a factor in subsidence)

  • Details of any hazardous materials, such as asbestos, being present on the property

  • Woodworm, and dry rot details, if applicable

  • A detailed account of the materials that were used to build the property

  • Information about any damage to the roof of the property, and any masonry damage

  • The results of any tests for damp

  • Advice on the drainage system

How long will a survey take?

It’s quite normal for a building survey to take a day to complete. It is very thorough, and this leads to a lot of time having to be spent on the work involved. After that, you should expect to get the results of the house survey after two weeks.

Issues that come up in a survey

There are a few common property faults surveyors discover. These can be very much covering anything and everything that can be wrong with a property. When it comes to floors though, problems can be as serious as issues with the general structure of the building.

All about problematic floors

Floors help to support a building, and literally support walls. Therefore, it's important that if you are thinking of selling soon, you know that your floors are solid and capable of supporting the home.

  • One of the biggest problem areas is woodworm on timber floorboards. If a surveyor finds that there is an infestation or that the problem is more complex than originally thought, this will make things difficult for you unless you treat it immediately. The cost of treating a property’s floors for a woodworm infestation are significant, and this can obviously stall or even stop a house purchase from going through.

  • Another area is chipboard. This is often laid over joists, especially on upper floors. Chipboard does suffer over time, and can sag. This is quite easily identifiable due to the squeaking noises that you may hear when you walk on the floors. If the noises are excessive, you can expect that to come up in the house survey.

    Flooring House Survey

  • There are also problems in the area of floor covering. If the property has laminate flooring in the kitchen or bathroom for example, this can absorb water and cause problems at the joints. This can lead to raised flooring and a clear trip hazard. The flooring may need replacing in its entirety, and a survey would most likely pick this up.

  • Also in the kitchen, if it has laminate or ceramic tiling, there could be cracks. If this is the case, you need to ensure this is fixed or entirely re-laid. Tiled flooring is notorious, due to the fact that styles tend to ‘run’ in stores for around five years maximum.

  • If the house has solid flooring in any part such as a concrete floor, check for damp areas at the surface of the flooring. A solid floor has to connect with a damp proof course. Damp can arise, and this type of floor is prone to it. Check everything looks sound and level, and if you see any damp ‘blistering’, you’ll need to get this fixed. It could be very costly for the purchaser, and a surveyor will record the details.

  • Uneven and sagging floors. Believe it or not this is more common than you think and can be a sign of foundation issues. A spirit-level is a good start.

Basically, if a floor is reasonably level and dry, and in good condition, the majority of issues are dealt with. But make it part of your preparation before the survey visit to ensure that all the flooring has been checked. It will cost you money to fix, but it could cost you a house sale if you leave it alone.

Posted in House Maintenance, House Selling Advice.

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