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Some basic tips on how to choose a building surveyor

Ask the following about the building surveyor:

  • Does the Building Surveyor specialise in pre-purchase building surveys on new and old properties?
  • Is the surveyor qualified to certify that building works are in compliance with building regulations and compliance with planning permission.

Pre-purchase building surveys are predominately visual inspections. It is therefore of paramount importance that the surveyor you choose to inspect your future home has significant experience in pre-purchase building surveys and carries out building surveys on an ongoing basis.

Your building survey / structural survey should be carried out by a qualified, experienced building surveyor. Before engaging any company to survey your future home you should obtain from them:

  1. A sample survey report so you will know exactly what they will be inspecting and that the report is written and presented in a clear, understandable format.
  2. A copy of their terms and conditions which should include any limitations to the survey.
  3. Confirm that they have professional indemnity insurance.

Requesting and checking out all of these suggestions will help you to be confident that your report will be good value for money, contain reliable information and provide you with necessary details regarding the structure of the property, before finalising your purchase offer.

 

If you can’t agree with your neighbour on boundary issues, what can you do?

Answer Appoint a professional to advise on both boundary walls and party walls. With the mutual agreement of both property owners you can engage an ‘Agreed Property Surveyor’ to advise both parties collectively.  Alternatively, one or both parties can individually engage a separate surveyor who will advise one party alone in regards to their own situation, and will provide… Continue Reading

Ventilation of Timber-Framed Structures

Ventilation of the external walls of timber-framed construction is necessary so as not to allow moisture build up in the cavity which may cause decay to the structural timbers. External walls of a timber-framed dwelling are normally comprised of a number of layers which can be seen in figure 1. Ventilating the cavity of timber-framed… Continue Reading

Ventilation in floors

Ventilation in floors, especially suspended timber floors is very important so as not to facilitate the build up of moisture within the floor structure. This moisture build up can cause deterioration not only the timber joists but also any coverings placed over the joists. Ventilation in suspended timber floors can be achieved by installing vents… Continue Reading

Ventilation in Roofs

Ventilating roof spaces is very important as water vapour can reach this area primarily through gaps in ceilings such as attic hatches or pipes and even to a smaller extent from gaps around light fittings. When this water vapour reaches the attic space it can condense on the underside of the sarking felt or roof… Continue Reading

I’m buying a property with an existing rear extension, will I be able to build a new first floor room over the extension?

Answer. Before you consider building over any existing extension you should first get a good idea as the the structural condition of the existing extension. If there is any cracking or settlement in the existing extension it would be advisable to be extremely cautious before building over the extension. If the extension cannot support it’s… Continue Reading

I upgraded an old period house which had a dry tiled basement floor and some dampness in the walls and after renovation I now have dampness in the floor and mold forming on the carpet.

Answer. Most older houses had no or an inadequate damp proofing under the masonry floors and walls in the basement. When low levels of rising damp rises up through the basement floors the moisture would evaporate faster then the rate of the rising damp and the surface of the floor would remain dry, However, in… Continue Reading

When my neighbour lights a fire in his fireplace, I get smoke coming into my house?

 Answer. While a crack or hole in the flue is possible it is not the likely reason for smoke entering your property. Most modern houses and modernised older houses are fairly airtight, This in conjunction with mechanical kitchen and bathroom extractor vents results in negative air pressure with some properties. This results in outside air… Continue Reading

I’m building an extension to the back of my mid terraced house and there is no storm water drain located in my garden, can I direct the rain water into the foul drain?

Answer. No, building regulations require that rain water and foul water are kept separate and that only foul water can go into foul water drains and likewise for rain water drains. The problem that you have is common in that about 50% of mid terrace houses, in that there is no rain water drain located… Continue Reading

Do I need planning permission to change and remove interior walls in my property?

Question, Do I need planning permission to change and remove interior walls in my property? Answer. In most cases planning permission is not required and most interior alterations qualify as an exempt development defined under Section 4(1)(h) under the Planning & Development Act 2000. However, the property must not be a protected structure and be… Continue Reading

Do I need planning permission to convert my garage to a kitchen, playroom or bedroom?

Answer. In most cases planning permission is not required and most garage conversions qualify as an exempt development defined under Section 4(1)(h) under the Planning & Development Act 2000. However, the garage must firstly be attached to the dwelling house and already be planning complainant as a garage. The garage conversion cannot be used as… Continue Reading

Do I need planning permission for an attic conversion?

Answer. In most cases planning permission is not required and most attic conversions qualify as an exempt development defined under Section 4(1)(h) under the Planning & Development Act 2000. However, while most attic conversion can be converted to storage use without the need to first obtain planning permission, the majority of attic conversions will not meet… Continue Reading

What type of rear extensions are exempt developments?

Answer. Rear extensions which are exempt development are defined under Class One of the Second Schedule of The Local Government (Planning and Development) Regulations 2001. The area of the extension must not be greater than 40 meters squared, including all other extensions. The back garden must not be reduced below 25 meters squared. The walls… Continue Reading

Do older extensions to properties require a certificate for bye-law approval?

Answer. There is an amnesty under subsection 22(7) of the Building Control Act 1990 as far as buildings which do not comply with the bye laws are concerned provided development occurred prior to 13th December 1989. Unless the building control authority served notice between 1st June 1992 and 1st December 1992 on the owner of a building that… Continue Reading

Neighbour wanting to build on boundary wall.

Question. My neighbours of some twenty years whom we have a good relationship with have recently approached us about building an extension onto the back of their house. We also have an extension which we completed 10 years ago which is built just inside the existing shared boundary wall dividing both our properties. My neighbour… Continue Reading

More concerns about pyrite in houses?

There are believed to be up to of 15,000 properties in Ireland which are contaminated with pyrite backfill. We hope that our website will help you find the information you require concerning all aspects of pyrite damage to houses. When damage occurs as a result of pyrite under the floors it can be a very stressful time.… Continue Reading

Testing for Pyrite in Backfill

Property Health Check do not carry out laboratory testing to confirm that your house is free of pyrite.  Golders based in Naas, Co Kildare are perhaps the the best known pyrite testing companies in Ireland.  We certainly don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but if your house has pyrite your test results will… Continue Reading

Pyrite damage in most cases can be more costly to repair then settlement or cracking in walls?

The damage that pyrite back-fill can cause is an expensive defect to remedy and stressful to the property owner.  Pyrite damage in most cases can be more costly to repair then settlement or cracking in walls so it is important that pyrite damage is not incorrectly diagnosed during the initial structural survey. The percentage or concentration of pyrite in… Continue Reading

Does rainfall affect the rate of Pyrite expansion?

Answer. Is the total amount of rain fall in Ireland speeding up the rate of pyrite expansion under our houses from what is happening in Canada. There is a mis-conception in the building industry and by some building professionals that the rate of pyrite expansion of contaminated backfill should show up more quickly or become… Continue Reading

Buying a Home with Suspected Pyrite Damage

Found your ideal home. Now that you have found the ideal home,  you can get ready to get all your contracts signed, organise your mortgage and look forward to moving into your new home. You have agreed a price with the estate agent and decide that its better to be safe then sorry and organise… Continue Reading

What type of home buyers survey do I need?

Answer. Different types of building surveys Visual survey Home buyers survey Residential survey Engineers report Building survey Pre-purchase house survey Structural building engineer report Condition report Property survey Structural survey Full structural survey Note, it is important to be aware that some “full structural survey reports” may actually contain less information then a “visual survey”. The different… Continue Reading

What Sellers and Buyers should know when organizing a building survey

Answer. This post will assist buyers and sellers of properties identify defects and other potential issues that the building surveyor will be looking for when your property is surveyed. If certain defects can be identified and repaired before the house is placed on the market for sale, it should prevent renegotiation taking place at a… Continue Reading

What are some of the common types of structural defects in older houses that are expensive to repair?

Answer. General Structure. The structure is by far the most important part of a building survey. In many instances, structural problems are expensive to repair. The structural part of the building survey involves examining all the visible parts of the exterior, the roof, interior walls, ceilings, floors, attic spaces, doors and window frames. Particular attention… Continue Reading

Do plumbing leaks result in hidden damage to your home?

Answer. One of the most common insurance claims made by home owners is for burst water pipes. Last year in Ireland there where thousands of burst pipe and water leak claims resulting in tens of millions in settlement claims. During cold weather, if water pipes are not insulated adequately the water inside the pipe will freeze.… Continue Reading

What are the common terms used in a Home Insurance Policy?

Answer. Note, You should read your insurance policy document in full, different insurance companies may have different definitions then the ones listed below. An understanding of the terms used by insurance companies is a great starting point for unravelling your insurance policy. This insurance terms glossary contains some of the most common terms. Accident An… Continue Reading

What should you expect from your building surveyor?

Answer. What To Expect: Many home buyers sometimes buy their home on impulse. Experienced building surveyors can help home buyers avoid buyers remorse by reporting on building defects and problems before the home buyer finds them after closing. All detailed surveys should provide clients with the tools they need to make an educated choice regarding… Continue Reading

What is Radon?

Answer Radon is a radioactive gas which occurs naturally in the ground from the decay of uranium present in rocks and soils. It is estimated that the effects of exposure to radon gas kills about 200 people a year in Ireland. What is radon? Radon is a radioactive gas which occurs naturally in the ground… Continue Reading

Why is radon a problem?

Answer It is estimated that the effects of exposure to radon gas kills about 200 people a year in Ireland. You cannot smell, see or taste radon gas. Radon can only be measured with special equipment. Radon is a radioactive gas which produces minuscule radioactive dust particles. When breathed into the lungs, the radon gas… Continue Reading

Frequently asked questions about pyrite in homes

Answer Pyrite in your home The damage that pyrite can cause is stressful to the home owner and an expensive problem to remedy. The possibility that pyrite may have been used in a small number of homes in a development can have a very negative affect on all property values in that development. The presence… Continue Reading

What if the surveyor finds asbestos during his building survey?

Answer Deaths and serious illnesses, normally results from inhaling the fibers in building asbestos materials. Asbestos use in building materials was to strengthen structures and improve fire resistance and was commonly used in houses. Asbestos related deaths usually followed long-term exposure to the raw material. The critical factor is whether it is exposed or not and whether you come into… Continue Reading

Some more information about septic tanks and secondary treatment systems.

HOW SEPTIC TANKS WORK Septic tanks are designed to allow liquids to flow through the tank and enter a percolation area without causing damage to the environment. Waste waters enter the tank and the flow is reduced through a series of baffles allowing the solids to sink to the bottom. Additionally, smaller particles float to… Continue Reading

FAQ, about building surveys

Q: What is a “House Survey”? A: house survey is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a home, from the roof to the foundation. Our building surveyor’s report will include an evaluation of the condition of the home’s roof, attic, roof coverings, insulation, exterior, grounds, heating system, plumbing and electrical… Continue Reading

What minimum plumbing standards is a surveyor hoping to find during his survey?

Answer. Interior plumbing line Materials Interior plumbing line materials should be sufficiently robust and in good condition to adequately carry water to where its required and to discharge waste water to the outside drains. Water Pressure The supply piping should be capable of delivering adequate water to the fixtures. The flow of water from a… Continue Reading

What are the most common type defects found in sliding doors?

Answer Poorly fitted and maintained patio doors are a common defect found during our house surveys.  All patio doors have similar working parts leading to similar defects. A patio door has two sides, a fixed stationary side and the opening sliding section. Both the door handle and locking system are normally located on the sliding… Continue Reading

What is a party/boundary wall mediation agreement?

Answer A mediation agreement is entered into following an acceptable resolution between adjoining home owners. The mediator will draft a written agreement detailing the terms and conditions of the settlement they have reached and to which they have agreed. When both home owners agree to its terms, the parties, and the building surveyor / mediator,… Continue Reading

Misunderstandings about party walls and boundary walls in Ireland

We get numerous calls to our office from both home owners and adjoining owners asking about their rights and responsibilities pertaining to their party walls and boundary walls. Quite often our callers have researched their questions and concerns over the internet or from friends and normally end up being more confused at the end of… Continue Reading

What are the basics in improving window security?

Answer During the course of a building survey, a common concern for new home owners is security. These issues are normally straight forward to remedy resulting in improved security in the windows. The security of any property largely depends on the quality of security and hardware used, within the windows themselves. Most windows provide a limited amount… Continue Reading

What are the common window defects found during building surveys?

Answer Most building surveys find common window defects and door defects which may require replacement or minor repairs to ease operation and provide best performance from the windows or doors. The building survey will usually find that the house windows are made from uPVC, timber, steel or aluminium. Windows frames come in a variety of… Continue Reading