Updated: Sep 15, 2021
Buying a second-hand property? Why it's important to get your house surveyed and what common issues are you likely to find!
When purchasing your home, it is vital you don’t find any surprises after you are finally handed over the keys. That’s why most people choose to have a House Survey completed by a qualified and experienced surveyor.
A qualified surveyor will conduct a visual inspection of the property. While doing this, they’ll note every issue or potential issue they spot, sometimes taking photographs if necessary. These issues range from minor cosmetic work to larger structural issues.
You can think of a surveyor like bringing along a mechanic when buying a second-hand car. They’ll know exactly what to look for, how to find it and will give you a really detailed breakdown of the condition of the car. A surveyor will give you a detailed breakdown of the general condition of the property.
Most properties have a list of smaller issues that can be easily addressed after you get your keys, others have larger issues that could make you reconsider the property or negotiate your offer. But either way, you need to be informed before you sign on the dotted line and commit to buying.
One of the most common questions we get is “what kind of issues does a house survey find?" The answer is pretty much anything! There are some very common issues and some bizarre, one-of-a-kind issues. But if you are buying a second-hand property, there is a good chance you’ll see some of the following list on your completed survey!
Our co-founder, Noel, talked about this list in a recent episode of The Get House Podcast. Here is the clip!
This is very common, showing up on about 10-20% of house surveys. Moss on the roof can be caused by a number of issues. Most common of which is the pitch of the roof being too low and so water doesn’t fully runoff. It can also happen when tiles get old and develop small holes on the surface where moisture can get trapped. This creates the ideal environment for moss to grow!
Apart from not looking great, if moss is left to grow and spread, it can cause a number of issues. Firstly, the moss can cause water to pool and back up under the tiles and into the roof. This can cause leaks and dampness in the property.
Another issue is the fact moss holds a lot of water. In winter, the freezing and thawing of this water can cause the tiles to crack or become dislodged.
The good news is, this is a pretty quick one to solve! Lots of companies specialise in cleaning moss from roofs and the cost is relatively cheap.
About 30% of properties have some issue with internal doors. Over time, internal doors can come loose from hinges or even expand due to humidity. This can result in not closing fully or jamming. Sometimes this can be a simple case of tightening up the hinges, other times it can need the work of a specialist carpenter to refit the doors.
Another issue that is very common with internal doors is the door handles. These can become loose or break completely. Sometimes it’s a case of just tightening them up, other times you’ll need a new door handle. These are relatively inexpensive with basic models starting from around €20.
Both of these are definitely inconveniences rather than serious issues, but still something you’ll want to get sorted soon after you buy and move in!
You’ve probably never really thought about it, but gutters prevent the roof of your home from turning into a waterfall during rain. They’ll channel all the water to the side of your house, down a downpipe and into a drain.
But when a gutter becomes blocked, you may start to notice water spilling out, this can be a nuisance if it's spilling out over your door or if it’s spilling onto something which makes noise. In addition, the weight of organic matter which builds up (leaves, moss etc) in a blocked gutter can cause the gutter to break and come loose.
Most people who are getting ready to sell their homes probably won't get the gutters cleaned. This results in about 20% of properties having issues with their gutters flagged on surveys!
Hearing the word “damp” can strike fear into a house buyer and rightly so! Dampness can be a major issue by itself or a symptom of a larger issue like leaks, badly insulated walls or poor air circulation.
Other times, dampness can be more minor and caused by something as simple as kitchen countertops not being sealed where they join the wall.
The resolution for dampness can be anything from major roofing work to buying a tube of silicone to ensure water does not leak down behind your sink. So as a house buyer, you’ll need to know if there is damp present and what the cause is so you can make a decision about how to proceed.
Firstly, an unsealed opening is pretty much what it sounds like. An opening from the inside of your house to the outside is not sealed correctly. This can result in cold, wind, rain, rodents or insects getting into your house or walls.
This opening would have been intentionally made for wiring, plumbing, heating or ventilation purposes, but for whatever reason was not sealed up correctly around the pipes/wires or not filled in after they were removed.
This is a needlessly common issue and can be straightforward enough to patch up. Any qualified builder (or the tradesman who completed the work causing the opening) will be able to get this sorted for you.
In a recent case, one of our surveyors flagged a spider infestation in a room with a couple of unsealed openings to the outside... I'd be getting that fixed before moving in!!!
External Door/Window Seals
External doors and windows are usually sealed with rubber around where it door or window opens. This ensures that when it is closed, the rubber helps form an airtight seal keeping out wind, cold and damp.
But like most things, the rubber doesn’t last forever. Infact, in most cases, the rubber will break down long before your windows or doors need replacing. This will result in drafts, very cold winters, and pricey heating bills!
Luckily, this is a pretty easy issue to resolve. Most hardware stores sell rolls or strips of various kinds of seals. It’s then simply a case of fully removing the old, damaged seal and replacing it with the new one. We’d recommend getting a professional window and door fitter to do this work for you. They’ll be able to ensure you get the correct type of seal and order it for you if it isn’t a commonly available type.
It is important to remember that every property, without fail, will have a list of issues to address. Most are minor, but it is still very important you are fully informed of those issues. Buying a house is the biggest investment most people will make and you need to know what you are getting!
If you have just gone sale agreed on a property, at GetHouseSurvey.ie we have the quickest turnaround times in Ireland. Over the last 3 months, we have averaged just 4 days from booking to having the survey complete. Check us out for more information!