CONDITIONS OF ENGAGEMENT & INFORMATION SHEETS.
EXTENT OF INSPECTION & LIMITATIONS ON SURVEY OF RESIDENTIAL AND COMMERCIAL PROPERTIES IN THE UK
Most properties, including new ones, often undergo some form of alteration, addition or repair. It is of great benefit to you and your surveyor, if on first examination of the property, as much detailed documentation and information can be made available at the time of survey. The list below is not necessarily complete, but should include the following documents where available:
Any specialist timber treatment, i.e. woodworm, dry rot and wet rot in the form of reports estimate and guarantee.
Any specialist damp-proofing including silicone injection damp-proof courses, waterproof plastering and tanking work in the form of plan, reports, estimate and guarantee.
Plans and specifications of any major alterations, improvements, extensions, repairs e.g. underpinning, cavity wall tie replacement, chimney breast removal, including all consents and completion certificates.
Guarantees on roofs, underpinning works, double glazing installations.
Maintenance contracts for central heating systems.
Electricians test report if recent.
Details of any outstanding Party Wall matters, under the Party Wall etc Act 1996.
Tree Preservation Orders.
Leasehold properties only:-
Copy of the Lease, including repairing covenants, copies of past accounts, details of any sinking fund for future maintenance and details of future and planned maintenance. Access to communal areas, roofs and rear gardens, particularly in converted flats in terraced houses.
EXTENT OF SURVEY
The survey normally comprises a visual inspection using binoculars, ladders, level and damp meter where necessary, of all parts of the building, both externally and internally, which are accessible without removing fitted bulkheads, screwed down access panels, bath panel and other sealed areas. Corners of any fitted carpet and underlay will be lifted to inspect floor surfaces beneath. Floorboards may be lifted to arrange under-floor inspection if defects are suspected and permission is given. Any linoleum and/or hardboard found laid beneath carpets will not be lifted due to the likelihood of damage. Similarly, carpet which is glued down or tacked down will not be lifted to prevent damage. Items of furniture will be moved wherever possible. Heavy or awkward items of furniture e.g. pianos, wardrobes, chests and display cabinets will not be moved.
General exclusion clause
This includes covered unexposed and inaccessible areas.
This refers to client confidentiality and reproduction of the report.
The written report provides a description of the property and a breakdown of the individual parts of the building, with advice on their condition. This is followed by a Conclusion, which advises on the condition of the property for its age and lists out the various defects requiring attention, points to be aware of and improvements recommended. The report is normally broken down as follows:-
This includes the type, age and condition of all the roofs whether pitched or flat, the coverings, fixings and roof structure, including timbers and supports, flashings, soakers, valleys, thermal insulation and ventilation of the roof structure.
The condition of chimney stacks, pots or flues, concrete flaunchings around base of pots where visible, brickwork, pointing to brickwork, but excluding an internal inspection of the flues except from fireplaces where open and accessible. Advice is given on ventilation of flues.
Gutters & downpipes
An inspection of all guttering including box gutters (where visible), for alignment, adequacy, correct falls, condition and signs of obvious leakage. Rainwater downpipes and fixings are inspected. Gutter and pipe joints are not checked for water tightness unless it is raining heavily.
This includes all external walls from roof to ground level, with advice on the type of construction eg solid, cavity, timber frame, concrete or steel and width of the walls and insulation. Advice is given on the presence of any damp proof course in the walls, its construction and efficiency. The walls are inspected for condition of brickwork, pointing and render and any other cladding or wall finish, eg hanging tiles and slates and claddings of timber and pvc. Inspections are made for major and minor cracking, movement bowing, subsidence and settlement on each elevation, the report advises on the likely cause, age and remedy required. Where floors on the ground floor are of suspended timber construction, ie floorboards on joists, adequate sub-floor ventilation is essential and this is reported on. Areas specifically excluded are inspection of foundations, cavity wall ties and cavity insulation.
Soil and waste pipes & drainage
The external soil and waste pipes are examined for age condition and leakage. Normally only limited advice can be given on surface water drainage and further details may be available from Council plans. Full pressure tests are not carried out on soil drains, however, manhole covers are lifted where they are not screwed down, rusted in place or inaccessible. Water is flushed through the drains when the water supply is on. Where drains run into or across adjoining gardens, their condition cannot normally be reported on. If the house drains run to a cess pit or a septic tank, manhole covers are lifted and water flushed through the drains. Tanks cannot be properly inspected unless empty.
This includes all fascia boards, soffits, barge boards, planted timbers on walls, windows, doors and claddings. General advice given on the condition of joinery, pinpointing any badly rotted or defective sections. Windows are opened unless fitted with burglar locks or painted stuck shut.
Advice on external paintwork to masonry surfaces, joinery and ironwork.
Ceilings and walls
General advice is given on the construction of the ceilings and walls and their condition.
Floors skirtings and staircase
General advice is given on construction and condition. Carpeted screeds are randomly meter tested for dampness.
Inspection of rooms
An inspection of individual rooms is carried out and specific reference made to any defects in ceiling and wall plaster, chimney breasts, floors, skirtings and other joinery. A full damp meter test is carried out on internal walls and skirtings where accessible and applicable for signs of rising/penetrating dampness. Advice is given on ventilation, insulation and condensation.
Sanitary fittings, hot water supply and central heating
The sanitary fittings are inspected and if the water supply is on, they are tested. The central heating system including boiler and header tank and hot water supply are inspected and general advice given. Any specific testing should always be carried out by a CORGI qualified central heating engineer. Note: boilers and central heating systems require annual maintenance by a qualified engineer.
Advice is given on the type of water supply, private or mains, plumbing installation and condition of water tanks, pipework and insulation of tanks and lagging of pipes and installation of overflows. Plumbing for water softeners and other appliances is not tested and the appliances are not tested.
Advice is given on the type of supply, overhead, underground or private. The incoming supply, meter, consumer unit (fuse box) exposed electrical cable and electrical fittings (power points and light switches) are inspected and advice given. An electrical test is not carried out. If one is recommended, a test must only be carried out by a qualified electrician.
The type of supply is advised, either mains or bottle. Plumbing is not tested.
Asbestos is a health hazard, used in the building industry until recently. Asbestos takes many forms, including roof claddings, corrugated asbestos sheets often found on garage and shed roofs, diamond shaped asbestos slates on old bungalow roofs and asbestos cement roof slates as a cheap replacement for old natural slate. Asbestos is found in gutters and rainwater pipes, wall claddings and soffit boards. Inside buildings, asbestos is also found as boarding on ceilings, is manufactured as cold water tanks and is used for lagging pipes tanks and cylinders. Asbestos is also found in some plaster mixes used on ceilings.
Asbestos is dangerous when inhaled as dust. This can be minimised by sealing the surface with paint and much of asbestos found in buildings can be left in situ. The report specifies any areas where asbestos has been found and the best course of action. If asbestos is suspected, the material can be tested. Removal of asbestos has to be carefully undertaken preferably by a licensed contractor and taken to a licensed tip.
Any matters physically affecting the property the site or adjoining properties e.g. retaining walls, trees or adjoining building works are also included in the report. The inspection will not include any outbuildings, or specialist facilities other than garages unless specifically requested.
Enquiries and investigations are not made with the Local Authority regarding site conditions, i.e. the type of sub-soil, whether the land is subject to flooding is contaminated, or whether the property is built on made up ground or on a land fill. Any areas obviously affected will be highlighted for further investigation.
Last updated 1st January 2008