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Last edited 04 Dec 2015
Defects to be aware of when purchasing a property
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Professional surveyors recommend that it is essential to get an in-depth survey of potential properties before purchasing them, and although it is not always a cheap process, it is certainly worth the money. A surveyor will be able to assess the condition of the property, and identify defects that can be costly to fix.
Foundations are an essential part of any structure, but water can get in through cracks and holes in concrete, encourage mould growth, seep through walls and can even weaken and damage foundations. Water damage can be devastating to foundation walls, so it is essential to check the property for any water sources to make sure they are not in danger of harming the foundations.
Damaged roofs can allow water into properties, which can leads to mould growth, mildew and damp. Roofs should be checked thoroughly for signs of cracked or missing slates, as it can be extremely expensive to replace an entire roof.
Woodworm can cause serious damage to timber-framed properties, and can affect other forms of housing as well. Active between April and September, these beetles eat through exposed wood, leaving small round holes and dust shavings behind them. Infestations can grow if not attended to and in extreme cases it may be necessary to completely fumigate and then replace all affected areas of the property. Smaller infestations can be cleared up using a chemical clearer, although this will still need to be done by a professional.
It is possible to identify woodworm by the small round holes and shavings they leave, or by actually seeing the adult beetles themselves.
Water and sewerage pipes are normally buried several feet underground. If they are exposed to the elements, this is a warning sign in itself. Conducting an annual check is essential to make sure that there are no leaks or cracks.
If there are issues this can become an expensive problem to fix, not just in terms of the pipework itself, but also the clean-up that may be required.
 Electrical wiring
Wiring problems can be expensive and unsafe. Many DIY ‘experts’ will have done their own wiring when improving their homes, only really ‘making do’ when it comes to proper cabling. A professional electrician will take great care when installing wiring and should strap cables down neatly so it is possible to clearly identify which wire is which.
Even if you feel as though you have conducted a thorough inspection of a property yourself, it is always recommended that you get a surveyor to check as well. Surveyors are trained professionally in recognising faults and defects and are likely to find things you have missed.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Certificate of making good defects.
- Condition survey.
- Defective Premises - Liability and Measure of Damages.
- Defective Premises Act.
- Defects in brickwork.
- Defects in dot and dab.
- Defects in stonework.
- Defects liability period.
- Ground heave.
- Latent defects.
- Mould growth.
- Penetrating damp.
- Rising damp.
- Schedule of defects.
- Wall tie failure.
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