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Property Survey: What is Often Flagged?

With your fingers crossed, you are waiting anxiously for the property survey on your possible home acquisition you have been eyeing. For properties that have been standing for more than half a century, problem-free property surveys are quite unusual to find.

Having noted this, what might your surveyor uncover for you? This article will go over a few of the most common home survey issues that show up time and time again, so read on to learn more.

Asbestos shows up

Asbestos was once hailed as a useful material, but now it’s a word that conjures up images of harm and sickness. So, even if your survey shows that there is asbestos, the situation might not be a total disaster.

In many cases, a professional can contain asbestos safely if it hasn’t been perturbed or deteriorated in any significant way. If containment doesn’t work, the asbestos must be taken care of by a professional who knows how to remove and get rid of it.

Depending on where the asbestos is located on the property and how much of it is there, the cost of removing it can vary greatly, so you will need to get a quote to find out before deciding on what to do about it.

Issues with the boundary

In addition to the structure itself, property surveys evaluate exterior factors too. The surveyor will take a good look outside and pay careful attention to the property’s grounds and evaluate items like fences and boundary walls.

The security of the property may be flagged as an issue if the boundary of your prospective property runs parallel to public property or land. This is a common issue, which does not necessarily mean it’s a big problem.

To be clear, a HomeBuyer Report may ignore issues like a damaged fence because it is unlikely to be perceived as having an influence on the home’s value or use. If you are worried about the boundary walls or fences and would like advice, a Level 3 Survey might be a better choice.


Despite the fact that cracks are so ubiquitous in property surveys, they tend to be one of the most frightening aspects of owning a home for many homebuyers. They can definitely be unnerving when you see them.

It’s crucial to keep in mind, however, that not all cracks indicate that the house is in serious jeopardy. What really matters is finding out what caused the cracks in the walls or ceilings, and your survey should show any problems that were found during the inspection.

Detecting dampness

Surveyors are frequently reporting dampness as a potential problem in homes. Before buying a home, it is important to know if it is there and how widespread it is. This is because it can have a big effect on the building’s structure and our health and well-being.

There are several ways to deal with damp concerns, just like there are ways to deal with other issues noted here. It all comes down to the severity of the issue. If the problem is condensation, the solution is straightforward; if it’s damp-proofing, however, the cost can reach serious money, even into the thousands.

Property Survey - Report

If your survey reveals a major damp problem, it’s a good idea to get a second survey done by a certified damp surveyor with specialised knowledge and training. You will learn more about the sort of damp you’re dealing with and the scope of the problem if you perform this further inspection.

Issues with the drainage

Sagging gutters and broken drainpipes are just two examples of drainage problems that your surveyor may bring out in his or her report. It’s not uncommon for drainage-related issues to appear minor at first glance, but if left untreated, they can have a substantial impact. Indeed, this is exactly why this issue is flagged in survey reports.

The good news is that most drainage issues can be fixed without breaking the bank if they are discovered early enough.

Finding dry rot

Dry rot thrives on water being present, therefore it can be regarded as a damp issue as well as a separate one from dampness. Although a surveyor may report on it, the issue is still one that needs to be dealt with on its own.

Many dry rot problems may be easily remedied due to leaks or improper condensation management as their primary causes. Your surveyor will be able to tell you how bad the dry rot is and give you advice on what it means for your home purchase.

Electrical issues

Electrical problems are another common occurrence during property inspections. These can range in importance from the somewhat trivial to the really significant. You should have an in depth Electrical Installation Condition Report completed if yours falls into the latter category.

Heating issues

A more thorough inspection may be needed by buyers of older homes, and so they may be advised by surveyors to consult a CORGI-registered gas engineer about the condition of the home’s heating system. Even if there is no obvious issue, the heating system is likely to be as aged as the house itself and is difficult to evaluate.

Older heating systems can be safe to use, but they are likely to be inefficient, obsolete, and difficult to operate in the majority of cases. In many cases, upgrading to a newer system will prove to be the best option, and this is something that will have to be factored into the negotiations for the price.

Insulation that is ineffective or absent

Due to the government highlighting energy efficiency and environmental concerns, insulation is a hot topic right now, and any problems you find in a possible home will be brought to your attention. In certain cases, there may be no insulation at all, while in others, it may be damaged or improperly installed.

Problems with insulation aren’t too expensive to fix, but not doing so can cost a lot in the long run.

Invasive plants like Japanese knotweed

You can expect your surveyor to be on the lookout for Japanese knotweed as well as other invasive plant species throughout their inspection visit. Affirmative findings will be included in the report, and advice for seeking professional help will be noted. This is because the widespread plant has the potential to influence your mortgage, in certain cases, negating it outright.

The absence of required certifications

When it comes to appearing in house surveys, Gas Safety Records, Boiler Test Certificates, and Electric Test Certifications are common ones that are missing. Even if none of the appliances or systems have an issue, your surveyor will raise a red flag and add a warning in their report if there is a missing certification.

Missing carbon monoxide and smoke alarms

Unfortunately, there are still a large number of residences without smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the UK, despite repeated initiatives by local fire departments and safety experts. But luckily, this is a problem that can be easily fixed without too much trouble.

Problems flagged with the roof

Guttering and insulation are two relatively related and potentially relevant roof concerns we’ve already discussed, but your survey may uncover other, more directly linked issues as well.

While simple repairs like missing or cracked tiles and chimney flashing may be easily addressed, your surveyor will also examine the roof’s structure to verify that it is safe and functional. If a new roof is needed due to the poor state of its existing one, then we are talking about serious money.


As noted earlier, cracks don’t necessarily mean you have a serious problem to be concerned about. However, cracks may also be a tell-tale symptom of subsidence, which is a serious problem that has to be addressed.

It’s not unusual for structures to shift, but the degree and severity of the movement vary with each property and location. Your surveyor will be able to let you know if there is a problem that needs to be looked at more closely.

Extensions and modifications that have not been authorised

Any changes or additions to the original structure must be properly documented and adhere to current building codes. It’s possible your seller had the work done when the legislation was different, which is a concern because construction regulations change all the time.

Having said this, it’s a good thing that there’s something known as retrospective approval called “Regularisation”. This may only be obtained from the building control department of your local authority. The main snag is that regularisation may only be used for work completed after November 11, 1985. Anything earlier than this will not be covered.

Window issues

For a variety of reasons, surveyors will pay close attention to the windows. The most obvious benefit is that they serve as a protective barrier against the elements and contribute to the building’s insulating capabilities.

Furthermore, structural movement can be spotted early on in the process by inspecting windows, which can be an early warning indicator. If the windows don’t fit properly, the structure of the building may have changed, or the property may have further structural issues.


Woodworm is not unheard of, even if some properties are more vulnerable than others, such as barn conversions. However, woodworm infestations that cause structural damage are quite uncommon.

Because woodworm is not difficult to spot, it’s unlikely that you will find an infestation that is severe due to being left untreated. Even so, it’s not uncommon to find it show up in property survey reports.

In summary, as noted by Jamie Jonson, CEO of FJP Investment, “It’s important to stress the point that virtually all surveys will discover something, especially if the house is older than 50 years. So, don’t hold your breath waiting for a phone call from your surveyor informing you that everything is OK. After all, you’re paying them to draw attention to problems, and that’s exactly what they will do.”

Likewise, many of the issues that a home inspection uncovers are simple to remedy and inexpensive to replace. It’s best to take a deep breath and remain cool when faced with a long list of difficulties.


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