Renovating rural property Part 2 - the survey20/06/22
What to look out for, what to avoid
Once you’ve found a prospective renovation project, you need to find out the extent to which it needs repair and work.
There are aspects of the building that will be obvious – the condition of the roof, visible cracking to walls – but there could be many other defects present too, that can only be identified by a professional surveyor. To what extent the renovation needs to be carried out depends very much on the level of dilapidation the building has reached. What’s definitely true however is that it’s risky to proceed without a professional appraisal, from a surveyor who knows what common and less common defects manifest themselves in older structures or properties that are in poor repair.
There are some important things your surveyor will look for when surveying a property. Here’s our checklist of some obvious aspects that will define the building’s general wellbeing and condition.
From the top
The roof is a vital component of any building and weaknesses and defects there can cause all kinds of short and long-term problems.
Slates or tiles missing are usually a sign that water has been able to get into the roof space – though if the felt or other membrane is in sound condition, this isn’t always the case. Chimney flashings and other leadwork can allow water into the building’s interior, if the pointing or lead has been dislodged. Damaged or missing ridge tiles too can allow water into the roof space. Any water ingress into a roof can cause serious damage to the roof timbers and consequently the ceilings and walls of rooms below. Damp patches in bedrooms are an easy giveaway of water getting in somewhere it shouldn’t. Rotting or weathered fascias and leaky guttering too can reflect a building’s condition and are obvious defects to look out for.
Light, heat and power for your renovation project
Another important aspect of the building a surveyor will look at is how energy-efficient the property is and if the services and utilities are safe and in good working order. Many older properties have outmoded central heating systems now and electrics too can be way out of date, when it comes to both safety and efficiency. Some things, such as installing more environmentally-friendly and efficient lamps, is something you as the new owner can carry out. But rewiring and the installation of a new cylinder or boiler are going to require expert technicians. Often a central heating system is worth updating, even if it is functioning well, due to the cost saving it will deliver for you in real terms in the long run.
Structural strength of the property
A surveyor will also examine the building’s structure and note defects that could be indicative of problems. This might include interior or exterior cracking to walls, where there could be subsidence or weight load problems – for example, if an inferior lintel has been installed. Failure of the foundations is also a problem, and can be revealed by cracking or differences in ground levels. Poor drainage or defective drains can also cause alarm bells to ring, and again these will be identifiable in a qualified surveyor’s appraisal. It only takes one component of a building to have a fault – the knock-on effect can often affect other parts of the property, leading to a more costly renovation project overall.
An expert eye
A surveyor can point out what work needs carrying out to the property, if there are faults found, and also the estimated value of the work to be carried out.
We can provide an itemised list of work required, in terms of priority and urgency, to make the property habitable, but also provide a wider checklist of aspects that may become an issue in the future, or less urgent matters. This is vital when budgeting a renovation project. The priorities are usually the key aspects we have already talked about – a roof over your head, water, power and heat. Less important or more aesthetic aspects can be addressed at a later date and shouldn’t affect your ability to live in the property. A surveyor will also be able to give you an accurate appraisal and value of what the property is worth in its present state and also what it could be worth following your renovation.
If you are looking for a property and have limited experience of construction and renovation, then one of our qualified surveyors can give you a good idea of both the present condition of the building and what will be needed to restore it.
We are members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Our membership assures you that we have the expertise and qualifications required to provide you with a detailed and accurate ‘health check’ on the condition of a property. Our Senior Building Surveyor, Dave Bates, is also a member of the RPSA, which is the Residential Property Survey Association. You can find more details of the services we provide for home buyers here.