Insulation Express have discovered some of the common problems that are most often highlighted through home surveys and how you can fix them. We spoke to property experts who gave us their opinions on the problems they come across most often. We also looked at the average monthly search volume for a range of issues, showing which ones are being searched for the most. 

 

Key Findings

  • 67% Of Buyers Use Information From Home Surveys To Negotiate A Lower Property Price
  • Searches For Asbestos Increase 82% in the last 2 years
  • Buyers Could Save Just Under £30,000 With A Home Survey
  • Japanese Knotweed Invades Search Queries With A 45% Increase
  • Roofing Problems On The Rise With A 55% Increase In Search Volume
  • Interest In Insulation Heats Up 55%

8 Common Problems in a Home Survey and How to Fix Them

Property expert Depaq Singh, from construction firm Rightbuild outlined the 8 most common problems he sees that are often highlighted in a property survey. 

 

We then looked at the average search volumes over the last 2 years to find out which issues have increased in search volumes the most.

 

No. Problem Average Monthly Search Volume between Aug 2018 - July 2020 % Increase between  Aug 2018 - July 2020
1 Asbestos 74000 82
2 Structural movement and settlement 8100 82
3 Damp 6600 82
4 Japanese knotweed and other invasive plants 110000 45
5 Electrical issues 260 67
6 Faulty drain pipes 27100 45
7 Pitch and flat roof issues 27100 55
8 Insulation problems 27100 55

 

Searches For Asbestos Increase 82% in the last 2 years

Our property expert’s list rates asbestos as the no.1 problem they see most often being highlighted from a property survey. So it’s not surprising that the search term has seen an increase of 82% in the last couple of years. 

 

A person ready for asbestos clearing in a white hazmat suit

 

How Do I Know If My House Has Asbestos?

Asbestos has been banned in most construction since 1999, and the only way to really tell is to have areas of the home tested by an expert. The most you’ll get is to know from a home survey, is if there is a risk of it being present. Asbestos is more common in older properties and was used on everything from piping to floor tiling. 

 

How To Remove Asbestos 

This is definitely one for the experts. There are strict laws around removal and disposal and a specialist should not only be able to help you with this, but provide guidance on costs too, which will depend on the type of asbestos and the way it has been applied to building materials. You can expect to pay around £200+ for an initial asbestos survey and around £50+ per square metre for asbestos removal. 

 

Cracks Beginning To Show As Search Volume For Structural Movement Rises By 82%

Cracks in ceilings and walls can be an indicator of structural movement or subsidence. In extreme cases, this can cause the collapse of walls, floors or roofs. However, cracks in plaster are extremely common,so don’t immediately think it’s a serious problem. Over the last 2 years, people have been asking questions like, “what are the first signs of subsidence?” and “How serious is subsidence?”

 

Movement of a house is completely normal with the change in seasons too and it’s not uncommon to see cracks appear when the temperature changes. 

 

Interior wall with a large crack in it

 

How To Fix Subsidence

A home survey will highlight whether they think any structural movement is significant.This too can be fixed by reinforcing, underpinning or rebuilding. 

 

Rising Damp Sees Rise In Searches With 82% Increase

Another issue with a whopping 82% increase in search volume is damp. It’s a common problem, but its severity can range from a small area in one room to rising and penetrating damp throughout the entire house. Due to this, the cost can vary depending on the severity, but you may need to hire a tradesman to further inspect the problem. The average cost to damp proof your home is around £280 to £2000, depending on the size of your home and extent of the damage. 

 

Damp on an exterior wall

 

How To Detect Damp

Windows - Watch out for black mould on window frames and sealant. Morning condensation or small puddles of water along window sills too. 

Walls – Check wallpaper for grey or black speckled marks. You can also hold your hand against the wall to see if it feels damp or extremely cold. Unexplained curling or flaking wallpaper can be a sign too. 

Bathrooms and kitchens – Again, look for the black or grey speckled marks around grouting, sealant, window frames and ceilings. Check inside cupboards too and watch out for musty smells.

Basements, outhouses, garages and unheated storage spaces – The smell will probably be the first giveaway here. Check for mould on woodwork and painted walls and look for wet or damp corners. 

Furniture and soft furnishings – The inside of curtains, on blinds and the backs of sofas are places to look for black mould. Plastic and wooden surfaces can also take on a cloudy appearance from condensation. 

 

How To Fix Damp

  • Keep the home warm and well ventilated, especially when creating steam through laundry, cooking and taking a bath or shower. 
  • Position furniture slightly away from walls to allow space to breathe.
  • You can also use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air. 
  • If there is damp coming in from a wall or ceiling, you’ll need to locate the source and fix that before you can cover it inside. 
  • Once repaired you can paint with a damp seal or stain blocker paint, then paint over with the colour of the ceiling or wall. 
  • For grout or sealant, you can try oa mould removal product or cut away the affected areas and regrout or reseal. 

Japanese Knotweed Invades Search Queries With A 45% Increase

A weed can’t be that bad, can it? Yes! Also known as Fallopia japonica, Japanese Knotweed spreads rapidly and can grow over 7ft. Left to grow uncontrolled, this weed can cause damage to buildings, landscaping and gardens. It does this by growing through cracks in concrete, into drains, through paved driveways and patios, over lawns and through mortar joints in walls. It’s hard to eradicate, so finance providers may require an insurance guarantee in place before they will issue lending for a mortgage. 

 

How Do I Get Rid Of Japanese Knotweed?

It’s not illegal to get rid of Japanese Knotweed yourself, but it’s incredibly difficult to do. Hiring an accredited specialist is the best way to go.

Do I Have A Legal Obligation To Get Rid Of Japanese Knotweed?

It is illegal to encourage or allow growth of Japanese Knotweed. This means that the likelihood is you will have to treat it or remove it to stop the growth. 

 

Searches For Electrical Issues Up A Shocking 67%

A survey does not inspect the state of the electrics, so this won’t be highlighted unless there is something very obviously not working. An Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) is also not a legal requirement, so if you want it, you’ll have to pay for it yourself or ask for it from the seller. But they don’t have to legally provide you with this information. 

 

An electrician fixing wiring

How To Fix Electrical Issues

Use a registered electrician to fix any issues as this is one area that you don’t want to be messing around with.  A full rewire can cost upwards of £2000, so this could help you negotiate with the buyer. If the electrics haven’t been checked in the last 10 years, an EICR is highly recommended. 

 

Searches For Faulty Drain Pipes And Guttering Issues 45% Higher Than 2018.

Like a rat up a drain pipe, searches for problems around guttering and drain pipes have risen rapidly. As a good portion of these pipes are not in full view, and run around the roofing of your property or down the sides of your house, it can be hard to know when a fault has developed. 

If you can identify issues early, you can save a lot of time, money and damage to your home. 

 

4 Signs Your Guttering System Needs Repair

1.Sagging

Gutters can sag from incorrect lengths being used, wear and tear and broken supports.

2. Damp Walls or Roof Leaks

If you notice damp exterior walls or if it looks like the roof is leaking, it could be that the guttering is broken and the rain is overflowing and seeping through the wall or roof. 

3. Overflowing Gutters

This is usually a simple blockage that causes rainwater to build up and spill over the edges. A simple clean to remove debris such as twigs and leaves should fix it.

4. No Outflow From Your Downpipe

If you can see the bottom of your downpipe, check that water flows out when it rains. You might be able to lift a drain cover or hear the water flowing in. If it doesn’t then it can indicate a blockage in the pipe, which in turn, can be caused by a blockage in the guttering. 

 

Roofing Problems On The Rise With A 55% Increase In Search Volume

From missing roof tiles to gaps and dangerous structures, roof issues appear on home surveys frequently. While it may be tempting to just pop up and just ‘do it yourself’, we say, leave it to the experts. 

 

Man fixing a roof

 

We recommend getting at least 3 quotes to compare prices and check the companies online for reviews and reputation. 

 

Interest In Insulation Heats Up 55%

With an increase in search volume of 55% over the past 2 years, it’s clear that there’s a growing interest in saving energy and heat around the home. There are different types of insulation, including Cavity wall insulation, loft insulation and floor insulation too. The government encourages the use of insulation to make homes more environmentally friendly and there are grants available to help pay for it. 

 

A man installing loft insulation

How To Fix Insulation Problems

Ask for the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which sellers have to have before marketing their property as this gives you an idea of how the house is currently insulated. 

The survey may highlight issues such as missing or poor insulation. You can also check the government’s available funding to see if you qualify. 

 

If you don’t qualify for any sort of grant but you’d like to know more about how you could improve your home with the different types of insulation, take a look at our insulation guides section.

 

Buyers Could Save Just Under £30,000 With A Home Survey

If you decide against a survey and then have to fork out for repairs, what can you expect to pay? After a little digging, we chose some of the common jobs related to the top 8 problems and their average costs in the UK.*

While it’s unlikely that all these issues would be present at the same time in one home (you’d be looking at a real fixer upper if so!), if they were, you could save yourself just under £30,000 by getting a home survey. it is likely however, that at least one of these might be highlighted on a home survey and depending on the type and severity of the issue, one thing to fix might run into the thousands. 

 

Issue Average Cost* (£)
Asbestos

(Removing asbestos from a roof)

£2,500
Structural movement and settlement

(Underpinning a house)

£13,500
Damp

(Treating rising damp)

£2,750
Japanese knotweed and other invasive plants

(20-50 square metres)

£3,000
Electrical issues

(Rewiring a house)

£4,000
Faulty drain pipes

(Replacing guttering)

£650
Pitch and flat roof issues

(Replacing roof tiles)

£190
Insulation problems

(Loft and Cavity Insulation)

£500 + £1,500
Total £28,590

*Average costs taken from https://www.myjobquote.co.uk/ and https://www.yourjobcost.co.uk/remove-japanese-knotweed-cost/

 

4 Out Of 5 Homeowners Have Bought A Property Without Getting A Survey

The property market may be experiencing a mini boom, but those desperate to move house after months of lockdown should beware. A study by RICS revealed that 4 in 5 homeowners have bought a property without getting a survey. During lockdown, many people chose ‘drive-by’ or ‘desktop’ surveys’, as they couldn’t have people inside their homes. This means that someone takes a look at your house from the outside only and assesses potential issues with that basic information. They can also base a valuation on the price of nearby, similar properties.

 

We spoke to Zoe Kenworthy, Director of Sales & Lettings at Estate Agents Wardsmith & Co. who told us that damp and structural movement can be easily missed without a proper survey as they are easier to hide. She says “always speak to your surveyor after their visit as the report is long and arduous and all properties will have works required. It’s important to understand what needs to be done imminently versus what is part of ongoing maintenance.” 

Zoe from Wardsmith & Co adds, “as an estate agent we are legally obliged to point out any defects that will affect a buyers decision, which we openly do so. Where this has been done we advise how the issue can be resolved too, for example the provision of an engineers structural report along with estimates for works required.”

 

Emily Barclay from Earsham bought her house in 2014, and electrical issues were not included on the home surveys. She says, “we got a structural survey done and it all came back fine. About 2 months into living here it transpired that the electrics were appalling and the electrician who came to sort what seemed like a simple thing had to condemn the electrics, and we had to have a total rewire. I hadn’t really realised until then that electrics weren’t covered in a survey! Expensive mistake!”

 

67% Of Buyers Use Information From Home Surveys To Negotiate A Lower Property Price

It’s been revealed that of the people who do get a survey that identifies problems, two thirds (67%) were able to use this information to have those issues fixed or negotiate a lowering of the property price. 

 

Depaq Singh agrees, saying “You may also be able to use the information in a survey to negotiate with the seller If your survey reveals that you’ll need to carry out repairs costing £5k you could negotiate a reduction on the asking price or request that the seller makes the essential repairs before completion. That potential saving makes paying for a full survey worth it.”