Do it yourself - Points to watch - Damp

Required Reading


  


Do it yourself - Points to watch - Damp


Roofs

Take binoculars (if you dare) to look at the state of the chimney (s) and roof-are there any slates or tiles missing? Is there a good rudge line' on the roof? Flat roofs can be a pain -if the drainage isn't good, pools of water can collect. Roofs that have 'valleys' between houses (often found with older semi-detached or terraced houses) can also be a nuisance -all the water will collect there and the likelihood of leaks is increased.

Many first-time buyers, buying a property in the inner suburbs of cities, are likely to hit upon a terraced house, maisonette or converted flat that has a slate roof. Slate was the most common roofing material used in late Victorian times when these areas were developed. If you have found such a property, the roof may well be the greatest 'risk' area.

Slate itself is a superb material -the danger lies in the fixing nails. These may have deteriorated over the last century, making the holes in the slates bigger.

Once this process begins, there is usually no satisfactory alternative to renewing the whole roof. According to one surveyor, if there are minor defects visible in a slate roof, building societies are beginning to stipulate that the whole roof be completely renewed.

These points are important, because there are vast tracts of suburbs which were developed in the 1870s and 1880s and, although this is obviously a sweeping generalisation, they are probably getting to the stage, 100 years later, where repairs will be necessary.

You might be lucky, of course: the slate roof of the first house I lived in had lasted for 130 years before it went. But, once the leaks started, minor 'patch-up' jobs had no effect -and a new roof was inescapable.

The main walls

Look for bulges and cracks. Many houses have small settlement cracks which are not in themselves serious. Zigzag cracks around doors and windows can be evidence of subsidence which needn't be serious if they're old, but could be an indication of trouble if they are more recent. Look to see if any of the brickwork needs repointing.


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Do it yourself - Points to watch


In Scotland, the law on conveyancing is quite different: most of the websites below apply only to house purchase in England and Wales. If you live in Scotland Northern Ireland, for that matter -you're likely to find the DIY route a great deal harder.

The Woolwich estimates that under one in ten of its borrowers bothers to get a full structural survey done of the property they are' buying in 2009 They rely instead on the building society valuation and, if pressed, would probably answer along the lines 'If it's good enough for the building society, it's good enough for me', forgetting that the building society doesn't actually have to live in the place.

There are two main surveyors' organisations, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors . . .... see: Do it yourself - Points to watch


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