Should I have a
Homebuyer's Report on a Modern Property?
We are independent building surveyors
We believe that buying house and home is such an important purchase that you need to have the best possible advice that you can receive. No shortcuts should be taken, which is why we recommend a structural survey, which is also known as a building survey. What’s more we recommend your own independent building Surveyor carries out the structural survey so that you know that the Surveyor is working specifically for you.
We have experienced independent building Surveyors that can help answer your property questions.
Call us on free phone 0800 298 5424 regarding property issues.
We use many photos and sketches in our surveys
In our structural survey reports we include our own unique sketches and photographs from a very powerful optical zoom camera to identify problem areas and to help to explain pictorially the issues which we, as Independent Surveyors, often find helps to highlight and explain property areas of concern.
Should I have a Homebuyer’s Report? And should I have a survey on a Modern Property?
Modern Properties – do they need Surveys?
Are properties built to a price?
In our experience modern properties are very much built to a price whereas older properties are built to a standard. This can be attributed to the Accountants takeover, they are the financial men (Accountants) and shareholders takeover of the larger building companies where focus is very much on profit.
Modern timber frame properties
Buildings built to a quality standard
Not that it always hasn’t been this way, we would say that there has been much focus on profit. This has resulted in everything from the original lift in prices; we were talking about back in the 1970’s when houses were no longer sold for the cost of the land, the cost to the build them and profit but were sold for a figure that related to the size of the mortgage you could get, ie, three and a half to five and a half times your salary, which normally meant the cost of the land, the cost of building and a much bigger profit.
1970s Cross Wall construction
The changing face of house building and how it affects you
There have been changes over the years in the way houses have been built. In times of old we had master builders of similar good quality all round builders / developers who worked locally. They either worked for themselves or hired local tradespeople, all of which came together on a regular basis to build a house so they knew the strengths and weaknesses of other people.
Terraced houses circa 1890s
We are sure if you work in an office type environment or are part of a family you get to know the strengths and weaknesses of the people over the years. We think it is always best to work to someone’s strengths rather than to someone’s weaknesses. We are not wandering off the subject, we are just emphasising the difference in the way that house building now takes place.
Modern Terraced Properties
Modern house building – how does it work?
Generally, you have a main contractor who is little more than a management co-ordinator who tends to be very good with paperwork, very good at preparing estimates particularly from what we would term as book valuation and measuring metre squared rates and metre cubed rates and putting together all different sub-contractors or trade contractors.
Lots of trade contractors doing what?
These trade contractors are brought together to build the property, usually from our experience, there is little thought given to whether they have worked together before or not and the focus is very much on the price. We have heard it said that on a modern house (and indeed most buildings), they are built by a number of tradespeople brought together at the cheapest possible price, all of which are employed at the last minute and all of which don’t know each other. From the one-off nature of the construction process, ie, every house is different, there is no continuation that works so there is no benefit apart from self-pride to carry out a good job. Indeed, in our experience, the emphasis is very much on the speed of the work, rather than the quality of the work.
Speed of work rather than quality of work
The speed of the work rather than the quality of the work can be attributed to many different things with regard to the house market. As mentioned, it can be very much attributed to the house building process. You then need to be careful that the Surveyors that you employ, don’t have the same attitude where it’s the quantity rather than the quality of the work, as we know some of the largest surveying practices are under considerable pressure to do a considerable number of valuations and surveys. Quantity wins over quality!
Modern Dry Lined Properties under construction
What is snagging?
At the end of a house building project, snagging will take place. We feel the builders over the years have passed on their responsibility for snagging and carry out only the most basic snagging in our experience, leaving the homeowners to carry out the snagging for themselves. This is all well and good if the homeowner is experienced in building problems. If not, the snagging list tends to be a list of effects; by this we mean the homeowner will point out the effect of the problem if they don’t miss it (because they are too busy running the family/going to work/studying/doing other things).
We generally find then that the house builders, after a lot of cajoling and phone calling etc, from that list, can carry out repairs to the effect of the problem.
Cause and Effect
We use the term effect, because what should be being sorted out is the cause. Obviously the homeowner is not in a position as they don’t have the technical knowledge to establish the cause, but only to see the effect. We believe this is a considerable problem with the way snagging is carried out and it does mean that the new homeowner can be left with long term problems. We can give you a number of examples of this that we have been asked to help with that have come up over the past year or so:-
Example 1 – Modern eco building with problems
The speed of the work rather than the quality of the work can be attributed to many different elements with regard to the house market. As mentioned, it can be very much attributed to the house building process. You then need to be careful that the Surveyors that you employ, don’t have the same attitude where it’s the quantity rather than the quality of the work, as we know some of the largest surveying practices are under considerable pressure to carry out a considerable number of valuations and surveys. Quantity wins over quality!
Black Mould - Walls
Example 2 – Roof problems
A rear roof not being bedded to the property correctly. The result of the affect was popping to the plasterboard, this is where the tops of the nails are shown and also hairline cracking.
The builders dutifully came back via the NHBC agreement, work was carried out by the National House Building Council warranty (known also as the NHBC warranty) and duly re-plastered over the deteriorating areas and repainted. It was only when this repeatedly happened that investigations took place to establish that the water was coming in through the roof.
Example photo of modern property
Interestingly we were surveying a property next door to all these problems, which was an empty property having been rented and the builders / designers / developers hadn’t, as far as our contact was aware, come forward to the other properties and said:
Do you want the work carrying out as sooner or later it is going to cause you problems?
The moral of this story is just because a property is new doesn’t mean that it has been well built.
Example 3 – Old design defect
Building an old design defect – something that we have seen more and more of over the years is a style back to an era when there was some very impressive new look Georgian properties, we have been asked about regularly. We have noted that the parapet walls on these properties have started to blacken; this we believe is due to the age old problem of a blocked guttering behind the parapet wall.
Box / Parapet Gutter
Older buildings have accessible roofs
Fortunately where this occurs on older properties, they tend to be because they have accessible roofs and also have proper lead box gutters simply being blocked up. In our experience on modern properties you tend to find a multitude of problems:-
- First of all is accessing the area as often there will be no roof access.
- The lead may have been badly installed in particular with lead no-one these days seems to know how to fit lead properly or worse still lead has been replaced with a lesser material such as felt or one of the plastic based roof systems which simply haven’t stood the test of time.
What’s even worse is where the dampness comes through the modern wall as remember a modern wall is full of insulation. The damp insulation reduces the thermal efficiency, particularly where the construction has a modern timber frame or dry lining, this can cause all sorts of problems.
Modern timber frame sketch
Dry lining sketch
Dry Lining Defined
This term comes from the fact that plasterboard is dry and used as an inner lining within the property. Prior to this a wet plaster was used and required drying our periods which slowed the construction process down. Therefore almost universally in modern properties dry lining is used both as a ceiling material and sometimes to internally line the walls.
Dry Lining Defined (Modern Properties)
Within modern properties, dry lining is a technique used on what are known as non-traditional housing such as timber frame and proprietary systems. This will consist of timber battens which are lined with a plasterboard.
Remember these are only examples that come to mind
The above ones are examples that come to mind but please feel free to call us on free phone 0800 298 5424 and we are sure we can think of some others. We can also send you examples of surveys on modern properties just like yours that we have carried out so that you can see the quality of our surveys. We only carry out full structural surveys or building surveys and regulated valuations.
The above article has been written to stimulate debate and discussion. We hope that you have found the article to be of interest and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article, that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have included is incorrect then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).
The content of the website is for general information and entertainment only and is not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions. Appropriate independent professional advice should be taken before making such a decision.
Free phone 0800 298 5424