Full structural survey - I need a bit of advice please!

Discussion in 'Builders' Talk' started by break it till it fits, Sep 10, 2009.

  1. Evening all.

    First off, I'm a plumber / bathroom fitter by trade, so this is a little off my usual track, hence the need for advice.

    I'm just about to buy a house, and my wife is absolutely adamant that a building survey/full structural survey will have to be carried out to identify any problems before we exchange contracts. She won't buy it without one.

    The house is a 1987 build and is tagged onto the end of a 1930s terrace, and has been built to look like its 1930s neighbours, using modern materials / techniques. I have had a building surveyor come to look at it, and in his opinion a full structural survey is needed due to the following reasons:

    1. It's built using blockwork, and has pebbledashing all over it so can't comment on any cracks
    2. the ground floor is concrete (as opposed to a suspended floor) so can't get to the DPC
    3. The first floor is chipboard (oh ****!) so can't inspect / measure joists and inspect the joint to the walls
    4. The area is (a tiny bit) prone to flooding, leading to an increased risk of subsidence. (see point 1)

    He said that a building survey wouldn't be able to identify any problems in any of the first 3 areas listed above. To be honest, that sounds fair enough, and he refused payment for his time, which was kind :)

    My questions are:
    1. Will a full structural survey be able to detect any issues with the DPC and any cracks under the pebbledashing?
    2. Is a concrete floor generally OK, assuming the DPC in intact?
    3. Does a concrete floor increase or decrease the risk of damp?

    Thankyou! Any advice is always welcome!
  2. 2. yea there fine, there built all the time. all depends on it being done right which t should be as building control check these things when there built
    3. if its done right theres no increase/decrease in a chance of damp,doing it right basically means putting in the dpm and dpc
  3. hallbeck

    hallbeck New Member

    I develop property for a living. As a fairly frequent vendor i have watched a number of structural surveys and have come to the conclusion that they are utter nonsense.

    I have even seen them done in 15 minutes.

    No they won't look for or find cracks under the pebbledashing - how could they?

    Concrte floors are better than suspended. The only potential problem is settlement - but that would have happened by now.

    Damp and other probs are reduced by concrete floors. If it does smell damp and theres no damp under the carpets - its going to be just fine.

    I have no idea what they are talking about regarding the chipboard floors. I have never seen a surveyor lift a floor board - i think it would be criminal damage if he did!
  4. Mr GrimNasty

    Mr GrimNasty Active Member

    I will never pay for any survey ever again - they are a waste of time. They cut and paste from a list of stock phrases and recommend further investigation by the relevant experts (i.e. cop out on most things). They raise concerns that don't exist but miss glaring problems.

    I doubt even a full structural survey costing £1K?+ will tell you/find anything that couldn't be found by a couple of hours careful inspection.

    Concrete floors - pretty standard! How do you thing a DPM will be verified - drill down and through the plastic - doh! If it isn't damp now what's the worry?

    If the floors don't sag/bounce excessively clearly there is no issue there. Jump up and down in the middle to test!

    Get a ladder up to the face of the wall - any significant cracks will still be obvious even through the dash - pay particular attention around corners of door/windows.

    Jon done.
  5. Mr GrimNasty

    Mr GrimNasty Active Member

    Job even!
  6. "She won't buy it without one."

    Oh really! you'll have to give her a good talking to,

    Save your money.
  7. ecm

    ecm New Member

    Hi BITIF,

    A few points just clarifying what others have said really:-

    1. There is no such thing as a full structural survey. That term has not been used for a number of years (I assume for legal reasons but am not 100% sure). It has been "replaced" by a Building Survey which will cost in the region of £800-£1000 from a RICS guy.

    2. It will (I have read dozens of them) be full of non committal definitions such as "could", "would", "may", "possibility" etc. Basically, **** covering phrases and suggesting further specialist professional surveys/investigations are carried out.

    3. Your points 1-4 have not been made by an experienced qualified surveyor. If they have been made by a RICS it has been with the sole intention of misleading you into parting with more money for no extra gain.

    Save your money, take some photos and post them up here.

  8. trench

    trench New Member

    Concrete floor won't cause flooding but will recover quicker after a flood than a timber floor.

    I understand surveys to come in 3 categories:
    valuation survey: purely for mortgage lenders to amke sure they'll get their money back if you default on the payments. won't comment on condition
    Homebuyers report: halfway house. will provide a valuation and will comment on obvious issues. not exhaustive though.
    Full Survey: belt and braces, but will be full of disclaimers. couldn't see this, couldn't see that etc and include info on stuff that has no real interest to you.

    unless you have specific worries go for middle one
  9. Big Jumbo

    Big Jumbo New Member

    As others have said, a survey by a structural engineer may, these days, be full of disclaimers except where fairly obvious problems occur. You may want one to give piece of mind (or avoid mrs. giving you a piece of hers) but otherwise, the money could be better spent elsewhere.

    Item 1 on your list. Look at the area around windows (internal) for signs of unevenness/cracking.

    Item 2 . The dpc should be above finished floor level and the outside render should not cover it.

    Item 3. The floor joist depth can be calculated, with a little thought, by measurements around the stairwell.

    Item 4. Examine the joint between your house and the older one next door.
  10. myplastererdotcom

    myplastererdotcom New Member

    Just make one on your computer...will the misses know any different
  11. smallvile

    smallvile New Member

    you"ll need a periodic inspection on the electrics aswell
  12. builderwall

    builderwall New Member

    Caveat emptor
    I agree with the others a surveys are a rip off
    The Government were going to bring in a mandatory Home Condition Report(HCR) The survey is produced on the property before it goes to market. Thereby any potential buyer can see a survey upfront. (The government bottled it mainly pressure from CML, RICS Law Society estate agents and the Conservatives It's now voluntary (on the vendors part) It has a better complaints procedure but the HCR just flags up seen/unforeseen and potential problems with condition rating 0.1,2,3 and 3 being the worst rating i.e. Woodworm in timber rafters... suggesting or referring to a specialist or for a structural survey, but again passing the buck i.e. adding "Needs further investigation"
    So after all this, it will still come down to "Buyer Beware"..... Best of luck
  13. tph1

    tph1 Member

    My homebuyers report that cost best part of £1K didnt even discover the kitchen had been piled ! (But gave me detailed distances to the local dry cleaners !!! WTF!)
  14. Thanks all!

    I'll have to think this one over, but your advice is appreciated.


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