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Identifying Structural Problems in an older property

What to consider before purchasing an older or listed building…


Character Residential Property

If you’ve fallen in love with a property on a viewing, it can be hard to make an informed decision with your head regarding its purchase. Whilst we make this recommendation for all building purchases, when viewing older and listed sites in particular, we’d recommend taking a step back and making efforts to fully understand the building’s structure, defects and development limitations before purchasing it, with a full structural survey. This means you will be making an informed decision, no matter how much you love the property which should allow for a sound investment to be made and reduce the likelihood of unexpected building works or development limitations down the line.


The devil is in the detail

A full structural survey is a must on older property. Other types of survey such as a RICS homebuyers report won’t be detailed enough for the needs of most buildings, particularly if you are considering renovation works. By old we mean pre-war and the benefit of instructing a full structural survey on any building is that it will include a full analysis and breakdown of any defects and potential underlying structural issues to be aware of.

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Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors

As part of this kind of survey, the surveyor can also provide advice on planned works – an important consideration for older buildings that may have restrictions that withstand any amendments. It’s best to know this level of detail before you purchase than halfway through your plans for an open plan kitchen, diner renovation where you may discover that extra strong reinforcements will be needed to support the upper floors for example – adding a hefty sum onto the project cost.


Maintenance and development costs

Character features can be costly to maintain and replace. Features like original beams, open fire places and thatched roofs can all tug at the heart strings when viewing a property but once you’re in and these features need maintaining or replacing, costs can quickly escalate and should be factored into your financial planning when making the initial investment. For example, beams with damp / rot can become weak and require replacement to support the building safely.

Our advice is that as long as you are aware of any underlying areas of limitations or potential problem areas on any property purchase, you will be making an informed decision that should result in a positive and realistic investment that you can afford to maintain for years to come.


Peace of mind

Although full structural surveys often seem expensive, on top of all the other costs entailed in property purchases, the peace of mind they provide about the quality of your investment and its ability to withstand your planned development should more than outweigh the initial cost outlay of getting one done.

The RICS recently reported;

“A recent survey of home buyers, 25% needed to undertake unplanned work in the first year, amounting to an average cost of over £1,100

Kempton Carr Croft has a team of experienced Chartered Building Surveyors that complete over 40 structural surveys a month.

Contact or call us on 01628 771221 to discuss your requirements.

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