Our RICS Building Survey report helps home buyers make an informed decision when purchasing a new property or when planning repairs, property maintenance or upgrades. Each aspect of a property is considered and where possible any potential risks are identified together with estimated repair costs.
During a building survey, we often find areas that would benefit from regular property maintenance, so we’ve pulled together a checklist of the most common property maintenance jobs that could in extreme circumstances help prevent a disaster at home but in many cases will help save you money on your utility bills.
Starting with the basic need of heat.
Check your boiler pressure gauge
We see lots of sealed central heating systems but it’s often a mistake to assume ‘sealed’ means maintenance free. If you have a pressure gauge on your boiler make a point of checking it’s in the usual operating range – usually identified by a green band. A drop in pressure can be an early warning of a more serious issue. Once the weather starts to improve book your boiler in for a service by a Gas Safe registered engineer. A £100 boiler service (British Gas offer a one-off boiler check from £79.30) will make sure you are not wasting money on an inefficient boiler and will check if there are any more dangerous leaks, such as carbon monoxide, which is poisonous.
Bleed your radiators
The first time you switch on your heating each year, bleed all the radiators. A radiator full of air is a radiator only operating at half-power. Bleed them again after a couple of months of regular use.
Check for leaking radiators
Following on from the above point, feel around the in and out pipes for any leaks. A small drip can, if left unchecked, turn into a surprising amount of water. Often tightening the valve joints will solve the problem but if you are unsure call in a plumber.
Programme your holiday and summer heating!
It makes sense to run your heating on low for a short period every so often as it will be more efficient than one turned on from cold. It also allows you to check some of the above points when it’s warmer!
If you see brown stains on your top-floor ceiling, you probably have a leaking roof. The stain may disappear in the summer, but it will return, so get in a qualified roofer before it gets worse and more expensive to repair. A stain downstairs might point to a leaking pipe of some water ingress around a window for example. Same applies, the sooner it’s fixed the cheaper it will be.
Upgrade your boiler
Finally an old boiler can be burning money. If it’s over 10 years old, it is probably worth replacing it for a modern, highly efficient model. Often these are smaller, saving space and more powerful. With a decent guarantee it could save you a small fortune on parts and labour repairing an old boiler.
Onto lights and electrics. It worth pointing out at this stage that any electrical work, other than just the basics should always be carried out by a qualified electrician.
Upgrade to a circuit breaker box
It’s so much easier to identify a blown circuit as the switch will be down and it will probably show a red marker. If all your circuits are correctly marked you can pinpoint any electrical issues.
Buzzing electrical sockets and flickering lights
They shouldn’t so something is wrong and you should get a qualified electrician to look at them before a more serious problem starts, such as a fire!
Check your fire alarms
Get into the habit of changing your fire alarm batteries every 6 months, even if the Test button works OK. On that point test each alarm every week.
Wet rot, dry rot and woodworm are all issues that keep some homeowners awake at night. Early detection is the key so….
Test your frames
With a screwdriver gently test door and window frames, especially those that face the prevailing weather. Any give indicates dry rot which will spread so either replace or if possible repair the affected area.
Look behind furniture
It can sometimes be tricky to source a damp patch on a wall, so like the above, speed is of the essence. The sooner it’s looked into the less expensive the repair. It might just be a blocked gutter or drain.
Look for those tiny holes
These mark the spots where woodworm are living. If possible lift areas of carpet around doors and if you spot any call in a professional expert.
Without it the above problems can get a lot worse, so take advice on how to achieve good air flow around & under your property.
Moving to outside issues;
Clean your gutters every three months!
Sounds excessive but if these vital pieces of protection start building up outside, water tends to head inside. Mud, leaves, tennis balls can all cause the build-up of water.
Check the roof
If possible each year try and get a good view of your roof by standing across the road for example. A pair of binoculars can help focus in on hard to see areas and if you are in any doubt get a reliable roofer or builder to check the water tightness of your roof.
Brick pointing and chimneys
Water will always find the easiest way into a property and missing or crumbling pointing is often the source of internal damp patches. Once you’ve taken a look at your roof and chimney(s) use your binoculars to check the hard to see brickwork and using your screwdriver test any obvious sections of pointing. Once highlighted get then repaired as soon as possible.
Smell your house!
Your nose is often the best alarm. Any unusual aromas can alert you to a leak, block sewer or fatty kitchen drain.
Trees don’t respect boundaries
Tree roots get everywhere, even if the tree itself is meters away from your property. They suck up ground moisture, which in turn can affect your foundations so keep a special eye on Poplar, Lime, Oak and Willow tress which are the thirstiest species.
All of our Chartered Surveyors are able to provide valuable property maintenance information on how best to look after your property and keep it well maintained. Our new format Building Survey document will recommend any further actions or advice which should be obtained before deciding to purchase a new property.
As part of our Building Survey service available in Surrey and the South East, we offer all our clients the opportunity to walk around the property with their surveyor and discuss any key issues. The surveyor is also available after the survey is published to discuss any questions or concerns the potential owner may have.
If you would like a Building Survey quote, please fill in our Quick Quote form of give us a call on 01372 360663.