Not all building surveys and structural surveys are the same, they differ in quality
We are independent building surveyors; we are using this article as a way of promoting our system of carrying out building surveys and structural surveys. Thermal bridging also known as cold bridging is a problem which our surveyors are coming across more and more.
Cold Bridging / Condensation
Thermal imaging can be very useful when looking for cold bridging or thermal bridging as it identifies where colder and damper areas are. Here is an example of our thermal image camera in action.
Plain English Surveys
From the feedback that our surveyors have received over the years we have developed a building survey format that uses lots of photos and sketches and plain English to explain sometimes quite complex problems. This then gives our clients a good understanding of what they are about to buy and helps them negotiate with regard to the price if necessary. Our surveyors like to meet you at the property during the survey and are more than happy to talk to you about the reports.
Please free phone 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat with one of our surveyors.
Tropical conditions in your house
Many people now want to live in the most tropical conditions compared with what our ancestors did within their homes, looking to be wearing a t-shirt or shirt most of the time and certainly not wanting to wear big thick jumpers.
This has resulted in the heat in our homes getting higher which in turn has meant higher fuel bills which in turn has meant that we have insulated the properties more. This has had a range of affects on different buildings, depending upon the age of the buildings and how they were designed.
Air movement within a room
A house is a house is a house
At first glance houses look very similar, they have walls, a roof and windows. There are some obvious differences such as a Tudor building which will have a black and white timber frame with render or pargeting between it and a modern house will be brick or stone or render depending upon where you live within the country. Many houses are built and designed to look like older houses but they work very differently due to their high thermal standards.
In fact building a house and then amending it is not a new thing, for example below are photos of what looks on the outside to be a Georgian property however when we started to carry out the refurbishment on the property it was soon discovered that originally it was a Tudor property.
Georgian front property
Classic Georgian windows
Signs the property was originally a
Tudor building such as the
Reed on the first floor
Alterations that have been made in years gone by may cause such problems as structural problems however we are now carrying out relevantly subtle alterations which are affecting the climate and the environment that we live in due to the amount of insulation in the properties. Unfortunately or fortunately we treat houses in very similar ways and our priority is to live in them as opposed to living in them in a way that doesn't affect or cause problems in the houses such as thermal bridging also known as cold bridging.
What are we doing in houses now that we didn't used to years ago?
One of the things we are doing is more regularly showering, bathing and washing and we now have all sorts of appliances such as dishwashers and dryers. In the winter months we wish to carry on wearing the type of clothes that we wear during the summer months so we tend to heat houses a lot more. Equally we dry clothes inside houses as well. Where does all this lead us?
We have found in many houses where there is central heating and shower facilities in the form of a family bathroom and then en-suites to one or many bedrooms that condensation is becoming a problem.
This along with cooking and drying of clothes inside, particularly in the winter has resulted in black mould along with an unpleasant humid environment which is not pleasant to live in. We would like by way of this article to introduce you to thermal bridging or cold bridging. You need to consider how this may be affecting your property and what you can do to minimise the effects of it.
Mould to walls
What do the red circles mean?
The red circles are a system that we used within our structural surveys, building surveys and schedules of condition to highlight problem areas so that you are not left wondering what the problem is. In addition to this if the photographs do not, we believe, explain the problem enough together with our survey report we also add in one of our own sketches.
Thermal Bridging or Cold Bridging
Thermal Bridging or Cold Bridging is not a new phenomenon but it is a term that is not commonly used. We are coming across cold bridging more and more often as people warm their houses to what once would be considered almost tropical conditions. We almost expect to be in short sleeves whether it is summer or winter inside our homes. This combined with our wish to reduce our reliance on fossil fuel has led us to a climate where we are looking for more energy efficient buildings. It seems to be working well where we are building from new however where we are converting older buildings or simply living in them, we except them to perform like new buildings so we are getting problems. One of these problems is Cold Bridging.
Cold Bridging / Condensation
What exactly is thermal bridging or cold bridging?
Thermal Bridging or Cold Bridging is where elements of the structure are colder than the main elements of the structure and condensation occurs on the surface, sometimes interstially which is inside the surface. We have come across many examples of Cold Bridging.
We will give you a few examples here:
1. The first example is a residential house, part of a brand new development that had used a modern energy efficient heating system. Unfortunately the way the property was built Cold Bridging was being caused at floor level. This resulted in condensation at floor level which in turn meant that the floor covering deteriorated. It was first noticed in the kitchen, it also then affected the kitchen units.
Dormer Windows & Cold Bridging
2. The next example we will look at was within a top floor flat where one of the residents was concerned about the black mould they found within the property. This was later diagnosed to be a concrete frame building and as such the concrete frame caused cold bridging which as the residents showered regularly without an extract fan caused mould. As well as being unsightly we would have said it was probably a health hazard too.
Concrete frame building
Mould to ceiling
Black mould to ceiling
We have written surveying articles on the following:
Thermal bridging also known as cold bridging occurs in between where the walls meet the ceiling on the sloping section and is a characteristic of this type of building.
Heat loss through sloping ceilings
These cold elements then attract general dirt, dust, skin particles etc within the environment and then blackening occurs.
In this case we recommended ventilation at high level to soffits to help reduce condensation.
Air movement and ventilation helps to reduce thermal bridging or cold bridging
Thermal Bridging / Cold Bridging depends upon the way the building is being used, i.e. if there is not a constant warm temperature within the building and there is sudden (relatively speaking) heating of the building and increased humidity this will result in condensation to the colder elements of the structure i.e. the concrete frame.
The addition of ventilation and insulation will help this but it does need careful consideration.
High level air vent
High level air brick
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.
If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a building surveyor, we are happy to do valuations, building surveys, structural surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects reports, home buyers reports or any other property matters. Please contact us on 0 800 298 5424 to have a free of charge friendly chat with one of our surveyors.
The good, bad and ugly survey
Our good, bad and ugly survey is a building survey which is sometimes known as a structural survey which our surveyors have developed over many years, in fact several decades. We have listened 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 our surveys are easy to understand in plain English but do not take our word for it call us on free phone 0800 298 5424 and ask for an example of one of our surveys to be emailed to you.
Our surveyors have normally carried out a building survey similar to the property you are considering buying and therefore we can show you an example of the type of structural survey you will be receiving. We would recommend that you do not just book a survey but with whoever you decide to have your independent building survey with you talk to them, receive an example survey as well as meet with the surveyor at the property.
There are various ideas we have developed over the years to make our surveys more readable everything from 16x optical zoom digital photographs next to the problem which show and explain what the problem is to sketches that clarify any issues particular ones that we cannot photograph but know are present. We have commissioned our own sketches to explain property issues which you will not find with any other Surveyor.
If you are looking for commercial property, whether it is freehold or leasehold, we would recommend a survey as this will prevent dilapidations claims in the long run. You may wish to look at our Dilapidations Website at www.DilapsHelp.com and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site www.DisputesHelp.com , both of which we have been advised are very helpful!
We hope you found the article of use 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 put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).
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