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4 serious property defects a survey can detect and what to do next

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Instructing a surveyor to take a professional look at a house or flat you are about to buy makes good financial sense. Whether you choose a RICS HomeBuyer Report or a full RICS Building Survey, at Cosey Homes it’s our job to inspect the property and alert the buyer of any defects and issues identified, providing expert advice and guidance to help you make the right decision.

RICS Chartered Surveyors are impartial and unbiased, and it is by no means uncommon for survey findings to include areas of concern. We’ve put together some of the more serious property defects you may come across and our recommendations on how to deal with them.

  1. Damp

Damp is a common problem, and not just with older properties. Penetrating damp is the result of water ingress from outside, such as through a leaky roof, cracked render or damaged guttering, but it can also occur as a result of poor ventilation inside the house. Rising damp can be the consequence of a missing damp proof course. Damp can also affect structural timbers, potentially causing wet rot or dry rot.

If a damp issue has been identified, further investigations will be recommended. The cost and complexity of fixing the problem will depend on the extent of the affected area. Once the cause of damp has been identified, remedial action should be taken to solve the problem.

  1. Roof

Your home survey includes a visual inspection of the loft, roof and chimneys as much as these areas are accessible. Problems with the roof can vary in severity from a few loose tiles to blocked gutters, defective chimney flashing to unstable roof structures. We will also look at internal loft insulation and ventilation.

Minor roof repairs can usually be dealt with by a qualified handyman but serious roofing issues require a quote from a specialist contractor. Bear in mind that flat roofs tend to have a shorter lifespan than traditional pitched roofs, and replacement is often the best recourse if damage or significant wear and tear is found.

  1. Subsidence

Large cracks in a wall, particularly around doors and windows, can be a sign of structural movement. While a layperson may not be able to differentiate between harmless plaster cracks and serious subsidence cracks, a surveyor will highlight any evidence of structural movement in the report and call for further investigation.

The problem may have been caused by nearby tree roots, by defective underground drains or by clay soil shrinkage and the building could require underpinning to stabilise the foundations. It’s worth pointing out that the cost of addressing subsidence in a building can be very high, and homes with a history of subsidence can be difficult to mortgage or get standard home insurance cover for. Not surprisingly, finding subsidence constitutes a dealbreaker for many homebuyers.

  1. Services

Problems with the electrics can range from small repair jobs all the way to a complete rewire. Our surveyors will carry out a general visual assessment of the property’s services such as gas boilers and fuse boards, however we are not legally qualified to test any utilities in the property. It is therefore standard practice to recommend further investigations to check the condition of gas and electrical appliances.

In any event, you should request a recent EICR (Electrical Inspection Condition Report) from the seller and a valid Gas Safety Certificate for the boiler and other gas appliances.

Get in touch

Commissioning an independent home survey before you buy is your chance of carrying out due diligence on the investment you are about to commit to. If serious property defects are found, you are perfectly within your rights to renegotiate the sale price with the seller on the basis of the survey findings. Of course, you can also decide not to proceed at all.

Cosey Homes are an established professional practice of Chartered Surveyors, structural engineers and building engineers. We have 20 years’ experience in residential surveying and we would be delighted to discuss your surveying requirements. Contact us today or obtain an instant online survey quote here.


Our friendly and helpful team are happy to talk you through your options. Contact us by phone at 01744 412 700 and e-mail at

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The material contained in this article is intended for information purposes only and not as advice. We take no responsibility for the result of any actions you take as a result of reading this information.

You should always obtain professional legal or other advice if you are unsure about the effect on you of any matter in this article.

UK Wide Chartered Surveyors
UK Wide Chartered Surveyors
Cosey Homes offer the full range RICS home surveys from Level 1 - 3 with national coverage provided by our experienced local property surveying team.
DISCLAIMER: This article is for general information only and not intended as advice. Each property has its own set of unique circumstances, all potential issues should be investigated by a surveyor on a case by case basis before making any decision.