I received the following '3s' on a recent house survey.
Which ones should I be really concerned about and which ones are less urgent:
- The property is served by plastic gutters and downpipes. The downpipe on the front wall discharges onto the ground and this may cause localised flooding and damp problems. The downpipe should be connected directly into the underground rainwater drainage system. The downpipe from the porch discharges into a water butt and onto the ground and this may cause localised flooding and damp problems. The downpipe should be connected directly into the underground rainwater drainage system. Gutters and downpipes carry many hundreds of litres of water during wet weather. Their joints and end stops are particularly prone to failure as are the outfalls which can be easily blocked by leaves and other debris. All rainwater fittings should therefore be regularly checked for defects in order to prevent leakages and spillages which could lead to damp internally.
- The walls which are approximately 275mm (11") thick, have a masonry inner leaf and an outer skin of rendered masonry with the two leaves being separated by an air gap. The walls have brick courses are uneven which is indicative that significant structural movement has taken place. We believe this has been caused by possible wall tie corrosion and a more detailed investigation is needed. The render has been taken down to ground level and has bridged the damp-proof course which will encourage damp to enter the property. The render should be cut back at least 150mm above the damp-proof course and finished with a proper bell-cast detail to throw water clear on the wall. In addition, the render is badly weathered in several places and needs localised repair. The damp-proof course (horizontal damp barrier) We cannot confirm whether a damp-proof course is present because of the external render coating obscuring the construction. Damp was found internally possibly caused by a combination of the lack of an effective dampproof course and external render bridging the damp-proof course and further investigations are needed. However, as this will take some time, you should obtain an independent report on the damp now so that all costs of repair are known before purchase. Sub-floor ventilation Ventilation to the suspended timber floor is inadequate as there are not enough vents and this can lead to damp and decay as condensation forms beneath the floor. Sub-floor ventilation should be improved.
- The roof space was entered through a hatch in the landing ceiling. The roof is formed with conventional timber rafters and purlins supporting the coverings. There is evidence of woodboring insect infestation in the roof timbers. It is possible that timbers have been treated against such attack and your legal adviser should check with the current owners if guarantees are available and transferable to any new purchaser. We therefore refer you to our comments in Section I. As the attack may still be active and as any enquiries and further inspections will take some time, you should obtain a specialist report now on the infestation so that all possible costs for further treatment are known before purchase. Insulation and ventilation The thermal insulation in the roof space is insufficient and you should consider installing at least 270mm of insulation. When improvements are carried out care should be taken not to block roof ventilation or cover electrical cabling with the insulation material. The ventilation within the roof space is poor as there are no ventilation inlets and this will increase the risk of internal condensation and damp. Ventilation should be improved by introducing air vents where possible at the base of the roof slope.
- The property has older type lath and plaster ceilings. These have mainly painted finishes. There is random cracking in most ceilings in this property. We believe this has been caused by natural ageing of lath and plaster finishes and extensive replastering and some renewal is needed. The lath and plaster is coming to the end of its serviceable life and as it is particularly susceptible to vibration and disturbance, localised replastering will be necessary from time to time. This could be costly.
- The property has a combination of solid masonry and plasterboard lined timber framed internal walls. There is raking, horizontal and vertical cracking around several door and window openings. In addition, the plaster has lost its key which may hide evidence of more significant movement beneath. We believe this has been caused by slight settlement and a more detailed investigation is required. The plaster finishes are loose (blown) and hollow sounding in many areas and some replastering will be required. It should be noted also that the original plaster finish may well be reaching the end of its serviceable life. As it deteriorates, it loses its adhesion and ongoing repairs or more substantial replastering may well be needed. In addition, there are an increasing number of properties of this age where the use of steam wallpaper strippers and strong paper adhesives have exacerbated the problem. Some replastering may well be required when the walls are fully exposed for redecoration. Repair/renewal costs may be significant. We recorded high damp meter readings possibly caused by the external defects mentioned earlier and further repairs are necessary. However, as this will take some time, you should obtain an independent report on the damp now so that all costs of repair are known before purchase.
- The ground floor is of suspended timber construction. The first floor is formed in timber. Where visible, floors have bare floorboard finishes. Carpets and coverings restricted close examination of the floor surfaces. The first floor slopes and is uneven a more detailed inspection of the floor structure is needed. Having regard to the age of the property, the timber floors are unlikely to contain a membrane to stop rising damp. Timber joists may also be bedded directly into the external walls and may be resting on damp earth which will increase the risk of decay and disrepair. As significant dampness was found, you should have the floor construction checked and upgraded if necessary. Whilst no signs of wood-boring insect attack were found, older properties such as this one are very susceptible to such infestation which may well be discovered when the property is completely emptied. As much of the property was covered up you should instruct a timber specialist now to inspect all timbers. Air circulation beneath the suspended ground floor as stated in Section E4 Walls, is inadequate as and sub-floor ventilation needs to be improved.
- The property is connected to the mains. The outside stopcock is in the pavement. The internal stopcock is in the backroom. If it is original, it will be reaching the end of its life and may need renewal. The rising main may also be in similar condition. Some of the pipework is old and is suspect and is formed in steel which can react with the copper pipes present. As this will increase the risk of corrosion and leakage, the steel sections should be replaced.