Buying a War Years Property

Why we always recommend having an independent building survey

Always have an independent building survey as this will pinpoint any property problems. 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; the estate agent certainly will not advise you of any.

Free Phone 0800 298 5424 for independent surveying advice.

buying war years property

Meeting the Surveyor at the house during the Building Survey

Our building surveyor was happy to meet our client at the property during the survey report. We recommend to all our clients to meet face to face as then your Surveyor can get a full understanding of exactly what the client requires from the survey and answer any questions or issues they may have, equally they are happy to chat to you on the telephone.

Buying a War Years House

The property we surveyed was a two storey semi detached house which was amended and extended over the years with a roof extension and built during the War Years to the 1960’s. There was a garden to the front and rear with a garage and off road parking to the front.

During this time there was a rationing of materials and limited skilled labour available which can mean that sometimes there are unusual constructions hidden beneath what appears to be a typical construction.

Movement within the property

As our clients were able to meet us at the property we were able to identify and show them the problems within the property.

Immediately the surveyor could see that there were some structural movement to the rear of the property as a vertical hairline crack was visible within the extension wall. We advised our client to ask the existing owners to take out an insurance claim, advising that the cracking has been noted by a structural surveyor. This usually means that the insurance company will carry out a monitoring exercise (the Building Research Establishment recommend monitoring any cracks for a minimum of one year).

buying war years property

Crack within the wall of the extension

Above average change of condensation

We also found a higher than average chance of condensation in the property partly due to the era in which it was constructed in and partly due to some of the alterations that had been carried out.

What do the ovals or circles in our building surveys mean?

Within our reports we utilise a system of ovals and circles to highlight problem areas or characteristics within a property to better explain the issues. If this does not explain the issue completely then we can also use one of our sketches that have been commissioned exclusively for us for use in the reports.

For example:

This property was on a sloping site and had a suspended timber floor. We could see that some of the airbricks are acting as gutters as they were so low and a suspended timber floor also needs airflow underneath it to prevent wet rot.

buying war years property

Sketch of airbrick acting as a gutter

buying war years property

Airbrick acting as gutter

buying war years property

Sketch of protected airbrick

Many other problems

Many other problems were found in and around the property.

1. Deterioration

We could see deterioration and movement to the roof tiles. They were covered with moss and areas where the face of the tiles were spalling and deteriorating.

2. Dated electrics

The electrics were old and dated and needed replacing. The Institute of Electrical Engineers standards (IEE) recommend a test and report whenever a property changes occupancy. This should be carried out by an NICEIC registered and approved electrical contractor or equivalent.
Costs for all this work would run into thousands of pounds.

buying war years property

Deteriorating roof tiles

3. Asbestos to the garage roof

There was a garage in the rear garden and we recommended that it was removed as we were concerns that it contained asbestos.

In years gone by asbestos was commonly used as wood and can be found in all sorts of places. Asbestos was used post war until it was banned only in the UK relatively recently.

Our insurance company requires us to advise all clients that we are not asbestos surveyors and that you have your own asbestos survey carried out.

buying war years property


4. Trees to the front and rear of the property

There was a large tree in the rear garden and to the front garden there were trees that had been cut back but not properly which needed reducing further.

5. DIY and maintenance required

We recommended general DIY and maintenance to be carried out.

Positioning radiators for better air movement

We mentioned earlier that this property had a higher than average chance of condensation. One of the factors that were contributing to this is that some of the radiators were not positioned under windows which gives a much better air movement and helps to reduce condensation.

buying war years property

Position radiators under windows for good air movement

The overall conclusion after the survey was completed

The surveyor unfortunately came to the conclusion that this was not a property to be taken on lightly and unless you are experienced in house refurbishments, i.e. a builder or property developer he would not recommend going ahead with the purchase. As our clients were not in this category it was recommended not go ahead and buy this house mainly due to the movement within the property and that there may be hidden problems with the extension as a whole.

It is very rare that our surveyors come to this conclusion and it just shows you the scale and cost of the problems within this house.

Compare our website and compare our surveys

Please feel free to have a look at our website to see for yourself the quality of our website, articles and Building Survey reports. We would also be happy to email you some examples of our reports, Schedules of Condition, Structural Surveys and Property Reports.

We pride ourselves on our professional standard and easy to read reports written in plain English which we have been carrying out for many years on every era, type and style of property across the UK. Property eras are most typically Tudor and Elizabethan, Georgian and Regency, Victorian and Edwardian, War Years, Post War Years, Modern and New.

Free phone us on 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat

We are more than happy to chat with you about any of the above. Call on our free phone number 0800 298 5424 to speak to a Building Surveyor or to get a Survey Quote.

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