Updated: Mar 23
A really common question we get is "Will the surveyor check the attic during a survey?".
Well, the quick answer is yes. Once they can access the attic safely, they'll get up to inspect. In very rare circumstances, the may be unable to access the attic, but they will always flag this on the report for you if it is the case.
But what do they do up there and why do they even need to get into the attic? Well, an attic isn't just where the Christmas decorations live for 11 months of the year. It holds all kinds of secrets about the structure and condition of the property, along with how well it has been maintained and taken care of.
Although every property is different, there are some common elements which the surveyor will be looking out for in every attic they get into!
Checking Insulation levels
Having a good layer of insulation in your attic is one of the easiest and most cost effective things you can do to help keep your house warm. The more insulation you have, the less heat you lose through your ceilings! The surveyor will comment and let you know if the insulation is sufficient or not
Checking the Internal Structure
For any timber or walls which are exposed in the attic, the surveyor will be looking out for signs of damage, wear and tear or infestations like wood worm, dry rot etc.
The surveyor will also be looking for any visible damage to roof tiles or felt. Interestingly, sometimes it can be easier to spot holes in the roof from the inside - especially on nice bright days!
Checking the Party Wall Fireproofing
The wall between neighbouring properties (party wall) should have no gaps at the top. If it was built in a way that there is any gaps, it should be filled with fireproof material.
This is one of the most important health and safety elements on semi detached or terrace houses and in the event of a fire can be the difference between one building burning down or a whole terrace of houses burning down.
If it is apparent that there is insufficient fireproofing on the party wall, the surveyor will flag this on the report. In some cases, some lenders may insist on this work being carried out before allowing drawdown. Infant, many local authorities have added this as a specific question for the surveyor to answer before they issue a local authority home loan.
Checking the Water Tank
Remember those old steel water tanks? Well some properties still have them! These are a serious issue as they are prone to leaking. If the property has one of these tanks, you may also run into some issues with house insurance.
Luckily, it is a pretty straightforward job for a plumber to replace it with a newer tank. But it is some
It is also important to note that for the last few decades, as plumbers or RGI techs have been updating heating or plumbing systems, they have replaced water tanks as part of that process. So if a property still has one of these tanks, it may be a tell tale sign that there is other plumber or heating work which is long overdue. If that is the case, your surveyor will recommend hiring a registered plumber to give you an idea of the scale of work which could be required.
With newer water tanks, occasionally they are missing lids and full of debris and dirt. This would also be noted. Or of course if there is any apparent damage to the tank.
Looking out for Stray Wires, Cables, Ducts and Pipes!
An attic can be used to run all sorts of services throughout the property and if done well can be very convenient. Unfortunately, there is a minority of tradesmen (or DIY'ers) who don't take as much care and will leave stray, unlabelled wires laying around. If the surveyor spots any of these, they will take a photo and note in on the report.
Most of the time, it is absolutely fine. But occasionally it turns out to be a live wire which needs to be secured correctly and safely.
Note: A surveyor is not an electrician and so will be giving any loose wires a wide berth. It is also recommended you do the same! Likewise, in some properties there will be ducts from an extractor fan or shower fan which are only supposed to pass through the attic but have come loose or damaged and are venting into the attic. Again, if any of these are spotted, the surveyor will note them on the report. Usually these are quick fixes for the new home owner!
Other items unique to the property!
As mentioned above, every property is unique and the surveyor will be trying to identify any other potential conditional or safety issues.
One recent example was an older property we surveyed in Dublin. The surveyor noted a "bonfire" smell in the attic and then on further inspection found a damaged chimney which appeared to be leaking a small amount of smoke into the attic. If this damage had gone undetected, it could have poised a serious risk to anyone in the property while the fire was lighting.
Getting into the attic is a pretty important part of a surveyors job. We've thankfully been able to find all kinds of issues to make buyers aware of. Sometimes these issues are serious, but even if there are only some small issues, or even none at all, as the person buying the property you should be aware of as much as possible before signing contracts.
At GetHouseSurvey.ie all of our surveyors are registered, experienced and carry their own insurance, so when you book with us, you are in safe hands!