A review on buying a Victorian property

as your first home?

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Independent Building Surveyors

When buying a Victorian property there are many things to consider. The Independent Building Surveyors at 1stAssociated.co.uk can provide you with help and advice to make sure you are aware of any problems in the property. We carry out building surveys, structural surveys, home buyers reports, independent valuations, property surveys, engineers reports, structural reports and defects reports so please call us on 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat.

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Victorian floor plan

Buying a Victorian property, do you need a Building Survey carried out?

Our client was a first time buyer looking to buy a small Victorian property. We would always recommend having a Building Survey carried out as Victorian properties can have various problems that often stem from amendments and alterations that have been carried out over the years without any understanding or knowledge of how older properties work.

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Street view of Victorian properties

Location, location, location!

The location of this Victorian property was key to our client wanting to purchase it. It was in a residential area of similar and larger Victorian properties and was within walking distance of their place of work.

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A little more information about the property

The property was a small mid terrace house. It had the bonus of having its own rear garden with the front sitting directly onto the street, which is not ideal but it is quite common with this type of property. Parking was also a bit of an issue as it is on a first come first serve basis with a permit system in operation.

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Victorian properties, the fronts
sit directly onto the street

Caveat Emptor or Buyer Beware!

Caveat emptor means buyer beware and is why you need to have a building survey to find out if there are any problems within the property, such as rising damp. This is particularly true with your first house purchase as you may not have much experience of dealing with Estate Agents. The Estate Agent has been commissioned to sell the house, nothing more and nothing less and may not advise you of such problems.

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Rising damp


Problems that our building survey identified with the property

The slate roof

The main problem that we found in the property was with the slate roof. Although a room had been formed in the roof making it hard to inspect the construction we managed to expose a small section. We were surprised to find that there was no protective underlayer in the roof but instead we found black bin liners had been used to protect it from rainwater getting in. This is obviously not a good idea for two reasons.

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Victorian roof

1. It is not water tight and so if wind driven rain gets into the roof through the slates it could eventually damage the rafter feet.

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Wind driven rain

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The roof did not have a protective underlayer

2. Black bin liners are not breathable and so could create condensation in the roof space.

We advised our client that the roof would ultimately need replacing which would be a major expense.

Dampness at ground level

We also found that the property had a combination of rising damp and lateral damp due to the high ground level. The inside floor was more or less at the same level as the outside ground and dampness was getting in.

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Outside ground level is level with
internal floor allowing dampness
into the property

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High ground level

French drain

We recommended to our client that the ground level would need to be lowered and that adding a French Drain would help to resolve the dampness issues in the property.

A French Drain involves a trench being dug around the property with a perforated pipe fitted underneath a layer of pea shingle that then feeds into the drainage system taking away any rainwater close to the property.

Again we had to advise our client that the adding of a French Drain would be another expense that they would have to take into account before going ahead with the purchase of the property.

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French Drain

Meeting the building surveyor at the property when possible

We always enjoy meeting our clients at the property whilst the survey is being carried out whenever possible as we are able to talk about their requirements and any plans they may have to alter and amend the property.  This is also a good opportunity to advise on how to solve any problems that we come across.

In this case we are pleased to say that the client did manage to meet us at the property.

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What do the circles and ovals mean in our reports?

We always include many photos within our reports. Sometimes where there is a problem in the property that we wish to emphasize or highlight we will use circles or ovals to identify this, please see the photo of black mould below. If the report, along with our photos, does not explain the problem or characteristics of a property enough then we also have a vast range of sketches that we have had commissioned exclusively for us that we can use in our reports.

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Black mould due to dampness and
condensation in a property

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Black mould

Independent Building Surveyors

We are experienced independent building Surveyors who are knowledgeable in carrying out structural surveys on all types, styles and eras of buildings. If you are looking to buy your first property it makes sense to have a building survey carried out by an Independent Surveyor. Phone us for a friendly chat on 0800 298 5424.

Example of our survey reports

We are more than happy to email you examples of our Surveys that we have carried out on similar properties to the one that you are looking to buy although we do appreciate that all properties are unique. We really believe that you should see what you are getting in the form of an example survey report before you purchase a property. Please free phone 0800 298 5424.

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