Are you a home buyer?

Home buyer damp and timber surveys, wall tie surveys.

The questions we may be able to answer:

What type of survey do I need?

Is a mortgage lender’s survey enough?

Do I need a homebuyer survey?

Do I need a full building survey?

Do I need a damp and timber survey?

Should I pay for a damp and timber survey?

Should I pay for a wall tie survey?

What surveyor should I use?

Who are the PCA? 

Why use a PCA registered damp and timber surveyor?

Why use a PCA registered contractor?

Damp and timber surveys – damp and timber contractor’s quote or damp and timber independent surveyors report?

How to choose a damp and timber surveyor?

Home buyer 

Your home is the biggest expenditure you are likely to ever make and is usually a sound financial asset and source of personal security, financial stability and peace of mind. 

However, there are pit falls for the unprepared unwary home buyer and unless you take the necessary precautions you could be seriously out of pocket. You may not even be aware of it if you do not have a professional damp and timber or specialist survey carried out. 

As a home buyer you will probably strive to buy the property for the least possible price and take it for granted that the asking price has been correctly valued and is a fair reflection of the true market value. You should not necessarily make this assumption. CAVEAT EMPTOR – a well known legal phrase ‘LET THE BUYER BEWARE’.

On the other side of the coin the person selling, (vendor) and estate agent who represents the vendor, are trying to get the highest price. The estate agents commission (if they are commission based) usually depends on it and will be highly motivated to sell the property as soon as possible without the inconvenience of a report from the buyer which could prevent, disrupt or slow down the sale, cause extra work for their staff or reduce their commission.  

It is important to note here that the ESTATE AGENTDOES NOT WORK IN THE INTERESTS OF THE BUYER. They represent and further the interest of the seller, but who defends the interests of the buyer?  

Building defects in any property undermine its market value to one degree or another. They may be minor in nature but can quickly add up to a substantial sum. 

The defects most damaging to property value are DAMP, TIMBER DECAY / WOODWORM INFESTATION and STRUCTURAL ISSUES. 

Certain defects such as dry rot and structural movement / failure will seriously undermine the value of any property. Substantial dry rot may for example cost £5000.00 to rectify but undermine the value of the building by 40% so it is vital that such defects are identified prior to sale or you are at risk of losing substantial sums of money once you have completed and moved in. 

You may not even know such defects exist as fungal attack such as dry rot love dark hidden places, damp levels may be high but invisible to the eye or cannot be seen or found without removing parts of the building fabric and wall ties are hidden inside the brick cavity. 

We cannot over emphasize the importance of pre-purchase surveys in protecting your financial interests. The usual route to purchase / sale is as follows:

Mortgage lenders survey and report

This is usually very brief (possibly even one page on a pro-forma layout) and identifies the more obvious defects such as dampness in very general terms i.e. that it exists in a certain room.

No invasive techniques will be carried out such as opening the building fabric to find dry rot, taking up floor boards to inspect for damp and dry rot in timber joists for example. The time the surveyor spends there is usually very brief. 

RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) Homebuyer survey and report

This is a more detailed report which will describe the various elements of the building in general terms, obvious visible defects and general condition for example roof, chimney, walls, plaster, decorations etc. Each description is ‘scored’ on a traffic light system of RED, YELLOW and GREEN with defects requiring immediate attention scored red and those which are less important and urgent in green. You will also receive opinion on whether the valuation figure (proposed sale price) is realistic or not when compared to other similar properties in the area. 

A homebuyer report will usually recommend that you seek further advice from specialist surveyors and / or contractors in relation to certain parts of the building and specific types of defects as follows:

•          Damp and timber issues (rising damp, dry rot, woodworm etc)

•           Wall ties and lateral restraints

•           Cavity wall insulation and debris in cavities. 

•           Structural movement in walls, floor and roof. 

•           Survey / works requiring invasive procedures to identify scope/ costs. 

•           Roof

•           Chimneys

•           Lead lined gutters 

•           Other inaccessible high-level works

•           Structural repairs

•           Subsidence

•           Drainage

•           Electrical 

•           Plumbing

•           Gas

The accurate identification of building defects, particularly those requiring specialist attention or opening of the building fabric, are extremely important to identify the scope of works and establish a reasonably accurate fair cost. 

An RICS Homebuyer report will not providea full detailed scope of remedial works including those listed above and accurate costs.

If this is not done, you run the risk of buying the property at its full proposed value and then having to remedy those defects after purchase at your own cost. 

Essentially you may pay substantially over the odds for your new home and investment. 

Be sure you do not fall into this trap. 

A professional survey and report covering those specialist items are therefore a small price to pay compared to the potential costs you may have to bear out of your own pocket which could seriously undermine your biggest investment, pushing you into negative equity. 

The financial consequences could be catastrophic, and we have witnessed this first hand on many occasions over the years with some buyers over-paying in some cases by many tens of thousands of pounds. 

Specialist surveys

Considering the financial consequences of failing to get this process right, we recommend procuring the services of individuals and / or companies who are suitable to carry out these tasks competently and professionally. 

You may wish to consider the following in relation to specialist surveys: 

Specialist Independent surveyor

This type of surveyor will usually charge a one-off professional fee and be concerned with providing professional advice which is independent of further gain such as obtaining contract work and therefore further profit from their services.

Such independent advice will be communicated in the form of a report which will have the sole purpose of protecting and furthering the interests of the client, an ethos similar to an accountant or solicitor and ideally provide further professional consultation to enhance your understanding.

To value and have work carried out they will probably advise you to use PCA registered damp / timber / wall tie etc. contractors who you will have to contact to obtain quotes and so further delay the process. 

The PCA are the main national professional accrediting body for specialist remedial services such as:

  • Damp
  • Timber
  • Condensation
  • Structural repair – wall ties etc
  • Invasive weeds
  • Structural waterproofing – basements / sub floors
  • Internal ventilation
  • Flood prevention and recovery

Membership of the PCA as a surveyor or contractor means compliance with to strict procedures, guidelines, legislation, complaints procedures, ethics and the like. Contractors are audited annually to ensure high standards are being met.  

You may find that different lenders will have their own preferences regarding which type of survey and process they prefer. This should be clearly established at an early stage to avoid wasted time, money and unnecessary inconvenience. 

Ideally this type of surveyor will have the following credentials:

  • Trained, qualified and accredited by the PCA (Property Care Association). 
  • Professional indemnity insurance.
  • Memberships of professional accrediting bodies such as:

PCA – Property Care Association. 

CIOB – Chartered Institute of Building.

RICS – Royal institute of Chartered surveyors.   

CABE – Chartered Association of Building Engineers

  • Have a wide range of experience in this specialist field with a good knowledge of the construction sector in general knowing how buildings are put together and how they fail. 

A professional qualified remedial surveyor will have no issues with providing proof of experience, qualifications and memberships of professional bodies. 

Ask for an example of a report and to explain what service and report content you are likely to receive and what your expectations are. 

Contractor / contractors surveyor

This type of surveyor will carry out a survey and provide a quotation with specification and scheme drawing with the sole aim of providing a quotation benefitting from gaining a profit to do the works required so one could argue that it is not independent with such an incentive. 

Most credible professional PCA registered contractors charge for pre-purchase specialist surveys as great care and significant time must be taken with there being legal liability involved and P.I. insurance at stake. PCA registered contractors’ surveyors must also comply with certain standards. The fee charged is usually nominal to recover at least some costs if not all. 

PCA registered contractors and their survey functions are audited annually, and survey reports amongst many other aspects inspected to ensure professional compliance. 

Free pre-purchase surveys may well be tempting but are rarely carried out without strings attached. There is an argument that there is no such thing as a free survey when the contractor simply builds in the cost (and some more!) to their price to carry out the works.  

We would advise caution regarding free pre-purchase surveys but may also be a simple marketing strategy to obtain business for which you will pay at some point going forward in terms of the final bill for works carried out. 

Ask for proof of the following:

  • Full PCA membership, this is not for the sake of it but to ensure you are dealing with a company which simply must comply with standards and pass annual audits in terms of the quality of surveys, reports, quotes, specification, design and they work they carry out. 
  • Proof of their surveying qualifications. 
  • Memberships of other professional bodies. 
  • Insurances: Professional indemnity, third party and public liability, PCA also audit this so you don’t have to. Ask anyway!
  • Their personal CV regarding their surveying and contracting experience. 
  • Proof of health and safety compliance such as CHAS. PCA also audit health and safety matters, but a separate compliance body is a bonus. 
  • Contractors guarantees. Any contractor should have their own robust guarantees which seek to be fair but offer some peace of mind to the consumer. Make sure you are happy with it or have someone look it over. Speak to a PCA accredited surveyor, they may help you out. PCA provide template guarantees to their members which are viewed as impartial and fair to the interested parties. 
  • Insurance underwritten guarantees. PCA registered contractors will generally be accredited to provide such guarantees for which there is a nominal cost usually of around 4% (for damp proofing) but check out the details as there are different tariffs for different types of work at various price points. Ask for current certification that they are accredited and authorized to provide such guarantees. Current government financial legislation dictates that insurance underwritten guarantees cannot be issued for more than 10 years. 
  • ‘And finally,’: Don’t be fobbed off with excuses like ‘I have been in this industry for years’, make sure you are satisfied with the evidence.  

10 reasons to choose Dryabode to carry out your pre-purchase specialist survey reports

  • We will provide independent damp, timber and wall tie reports along with a host of other building defects relating to dampness and structural issues. 
  • You will receive a comprehensive detailed report by a fully qualified and accredited building remedial surveyor. 
  • In the report there will be a schedule of root causes. Damp and water ingress rarely have a single issue as the culprit. 
  • If required you will be provided with a cost estimate produced by a qualified, experienced quality surveyor without having the inconvenience of obtaining quotations by potentially unqualified persons undermining the credibility of the report. 
  • You will receive quality impartial advice and consultation throughout the process and after you have received your report to enhance your understanding. 

Our surveyor is the director of the business and at 52 years old has a wealth of experience in the construction industry. David started his working life ‘on the tools’ working for his Father’s business, a local building contractor in Preston in the early eighties whilst he studied part time at what is now UCLAN for several years to successfully attain his degree in quantity surveying and commercial management.

He went on to work for national contractors such as Wimpey and Enterprise as a contractor’s project quantity surveyor. Later-on in life he began to specialize in the surveying of buildings specifically in relation to damp, water ingress and the secondary defects associated with those issues such as timber decay, woodworm and structural issues involving decayed wall ties, lintels and deterioration of other parts of buildings such as roofs, chimneys basements, walls and timber floors. 

David attained specialist surveying qualifications several years ago with the PCA – Property Care Association who are the UK governing body for building defects relating to remedial matters such as dampness, timber decay, wall ties etc. 

In summary:

  • 52 year old experienced degree qualified quantity surveyor. 
  • Qualifications awarded by the PCA:
  • CSRT certified surveyor in remedial treatments (damp and timber).
  • CSSW certified surveyor in structural waterproofing (basements and underground structures). 
  • BPEC – Domestic ventilation – installation and commissioning of internal ventilation systems.  
  • Property Care Association member for several years. . 
  • Charteted Institute of Building (incorporate).
  • CHAS accredited – health and safety compliant accrediting body.
  • ‘Trustmark’ accredited. 
  • ‘Safetrader’ accredited.

David has for many years now been carrying out surveys and producing pre-purchase home buyer reports in relation to the following building defects:

  • Dampness and water ingress. 
  • Timber issues such as dry rot, wet rot, woodworm, structural instability. 
  • Health related building issues such as mould and spores from timber decay such as dry rot fruiting bodies.  
  • Condition of wall ties and steel lintels relating to corrosion and expansion. 
  • Roofs 
  • Chimneys.
  • Lead lined gutters, lead flashings and other specialist rainwater goods. 
  • Corroding reinforced concrete components. 
  • Suspended timber floors. 
  • Basements and structural waterproofing and pumping systems. 
  • Flooded basements and sub floors. 
  • Leaks, floods and drying.