Do People Cover Up Property Problems

When They Are Selling Their House?

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Independent Building Surveyors

We are independent surveyors, which means we are not linked to or owned by an estate agent or lending institute, and as a result we are only working with your best interests in mind.  Since we are solely surveyors, we can keep our overheads down and ultimately our prices as well.

Free phone 0800 298 5424

Fixed Quote Quality Building Surveys

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Example photo of a modern property we have surveyed

We offer quotes on the surveys and we can usually save you money on the cost of the survey.

We carry them out quickly and we feel the quality of our surveys are one of the best on the market.

We offer a reasoned view, based upon our knowledge and experience, we don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.  Equally if we think the property has problems, we say so in a clear, jargon-free manner.

We also use sketches, photographs and digital images to clarify what we are saying.

Peace of Mind

Having a Structural Survey carried out on the property that you intend to buy will give you the extra peace of mind that you are buying the right new home.

Please call us on free phone 0800 298 5424 to book a survey / for advice.


The aim is to sell the property – people will do almost anything

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Example of our survey photos of a bungalow

Many, many, years of carrying out Structural Surveys has brought us to the conclusion that many people will do absolutely anything to sell their houses and as the Law states when buying property, that it is buyer beware – if you buy a problem property it becomes your problem from the second that you own the property.

Different people have different ethics and different ways of looking at things

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Over the years people have shown us that there are many different ways of looking at things and seeing things and this becomes very obvious when someone is selling a house.  Some people will openly explain any problems to the most minute of problems and other people will deny that there is a problem, even when you show them a photograph of the crack and not remember there was a crack there at all.

We then found out that a new development was being built in the town we wanted to move to. Initially we did not want a new build as our house in Bedfordshire was newly built and this had so many snagging issues that it put us off buying another.

Cracks are very good examples of what people can cover up and fill in.  Unfortunately, cracks are also an indication of a problem and usually, depending on the type of crack.

Caveat Emptor

selling house‘Caveat Emptor' translates as Buyer Beware; an important term as the buyer should indeed be aware as unless you have a building survey you may not find out any potential problems that the property you are buying may have. The estate agent certainly won't tell you if there are any problems as he is looking for a sale and the only way to be absolutely sure is to have a survey carried out by an independent building surveyor.

Innocent Old Ladies and Builders, What Do They Have In Common?

selling houseWith no offence meant to anyone, we are extra careful when we are carrying out Surveys belonging to either of these two groups, as it is amazing how many things they can forget to mention.  Our surveys are very detailed and they do include a ‘Question and Answer’ session and a questionnaire and, as recently as the past month, we have had questionnaires and a question and answer session, painting the picture of the perfect property.  We are well aware of problems when we are discussing the property.  We pretty much always give sellers the opportunity to mention any problems they are aware of with the property and it is surprising how rarely they do.

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Box gutter

For example, a box gutter between an original property and the extension had resulted in a very awkward detail, where we could see from both the roof level and also internally that there have been leaks over some time.  We even inspected the area in full view of the house seller, who still didn’t remember there being any problems.

It was only after they had finished the Question and Answer session and the questionnaire and when we were on our final round up and summary with the house seller, that we mentioned the problem and they then remembered about it, even though there was water staining both to the underside of the box gutter and at roof level.  Obviously, you wouldn’t be able to notice this on a casual inspection but it is very noticeable to a Surveyor.  This was a very respectable looking person in their later years who had told the Surveyor all about their family etc.

Builders Tosh Jobs

Tosh Job Defined

Generally refers to a job that is not to standard.

Again with all due respect to any builders reading this article, we have come across more than our fair share of builders work over the years on their own property and this falls into three categories:-

  1. Builders that have specifically developed properties to sell on.
  2. Builders that have carried out the work on the house in between carrying out lots of other work.
  3. Builders that have just covered up whatever they think anyone would see when they are going round the property.

Very recently we came across a property that had been re-decorated only a few months before it was put up for sale and this had hidden the cracking internally.

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Flat roof

Unfortunately, when we got out on the flat roof for the builder concerned, it hadn’t hidden the cracking externally and equally it hadn’t hidden the cracking in the roof timbers.  These were only visible at the joints and you had to know where to look.  It is particularly helpful when you have got a very powerful torch.

Strategically Positioned Things

The other thing that we have come across several times is where piles of books or rolls of wallpaper, have been positioned to hide cracks.  There are very basic solutions to a property problem but also particularly difficult to spot if you are not reading the signs of the property as a whole.

3D Puzzle

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Example photo of a Georgian Property we have surveyed

We always think of the property as a 3D puzzle, which we are looking at each element of to ensure that it is working properly and as such, we have to read the building and see that all these various elements are in place.

We also think of buildings as having different characteristics and being different characters.

Cause and Effect

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Skim Coat of Plaster to Original Walls

It is very important with surveying that you resolve the cause of the problem.

We often say that builders deal with the effect such as where we are talking about damp walls, they will repair the plaster and re-decorate, whereas a Chartered Surveyor should look for the actual problem. It goes one stage further; often builders will be so busy trying to use a particular material that gives a quick fix, that they will not have thought through the problem or they don’t understand how the building works.

Chemical Injection of Damp Proof Course Example

For example, the chemical injecting of a damp proof course or the adding of a waterproof render or plaster can in the long term cause more problems even though it looks like it has solved the problem for a year or so.

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Example drawing of Damp Proof Course

Good Cracks and Bad Cracks

As mentioned earlier, people vary considerably and some people will be concerned even over a small crack and rightly so in some cases and other people will not be concerned whatsoever even about large cracks.  As a Building Surveyor looking at carrying out a Structural Survey on a property, we look for what we term good and bad cracks.  Good cracks are ones where there is acceptable movement or there is cracking in an appropriate place in an appropriate manner.  Bad cracks are not where there are problems associated with subsidence.

Our Good, Bad & Ugly Surveys!

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Example photo showing efflorescence to brickwork

If you are in the process of buying a new property, we would like to introduce you to what we call our Good, Bad and Ugly survey.   This is a Building Survey, sometimes known as a Structural Survey, and is something that we have developed over many years, in fact decades.  We have taken the time to listen to feedback from our clients and amended and altered our surveys to make them easy to read and describe issues clearly.

The key factor we believe is that our Independent Surveys are easy to understand and in plain English.

Efflorescence Defined

Efflorescence is the white salt found on brickwork/stonework.  It is a natural phenomenon which is where the minerals in water dry out come to the surface of stone or brick and leave a white crystallised powder, almost flour like.  On a red brick it and stand out considerably, almost appearing bright white on a lighter white or yellow brick it can almost disappear.

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

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Cracking between original building and extension

We utilise a system of ovals and circles within our reports, 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 our reports.

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 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.

We would also be happy to email you some examples of our tailor made reports, Schedules of Condition, Structural Surveys and Property Reports.  We can send your examples of Structural Surveys on, we believe, every type of property and era.  Property eras are most typically Tudor and Elizabethan, Georgian and Regency, Victorian and Edwardian, War Years, Post War Years, Modern and New.

We have example surveys of every type of commercial property including shops, offices, industrial buildings, leisure buildings such as pubs, sports centres, places of worship and institutional buildings.

Surveying articles

The above article has been written to stimulate debate and discussion. We hope that you have found this article of use and if you have any experiences that you would like to share and feel should be added to this article that would benefit others reading this, or you feel that some of the information that we have put 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 decision making. You should seek appropriate independent professional advice before making such a decision.

Free phone  0800 298 5424

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