How long do you allow for? Typically I allow for up to 2 hours on-site surveying. In my experience this allows me just about sufficient time to carry out a full survey of the average sized property; or look at a specific area of concern in great detail. So if another company is telling you different, question it!
In those two hours, I typically look at such areas as ground levels, external facades, roofs, chimneystacks, rainwater goods, windows and doors. Inside I look at walls and partitions, ceilings and floors, where possible and time allows or the client requests, I also look at lofts and cellars. Whilst at the property, I undertake a range of non-invasive assessments, taking surface and sub-surface electronic moisture readings, floor temperatures, thermal imaging scans, and relative humidity level assessments to determine the true cause of any defects and the severity.
Why the whole house, when the damp or mould has just been seen in one or two rooms? Well, this is another reason which sets us independents apart from the average contractor surveyor. The reason is because where the source of the damp is, can be totally different to where the problem manifests itself. This is just one of the reasons that a lot of tradespersons totally misdiagnose the type or severity of damp or timber defects. Plus just because it can’t be easily seen, doesn’t mean it’s not a problem in progress. For us to undertake a thorough survey, we have to look at as many areas as possible. After all, it’s another of the reasons you’re paying us!
It’s also why you may catch me talking to the neighbours or the occupants, I’m not burning the time I’m gathering further information no historical events to the property, so as to aid diagnosis. What won’t I do as normal par for the course? Well, I won’t move large items of furniture (think beds, sofa’s, dining tables, welsh dressers, priceless wall art, ornaments etc) typically the kind of item that’d need two persons to safely move it! However, don’t think I’m lazy, I’m not unless we’re talking ironing my shirts! Therefore, I’ll quite happily move smaller items such as small sofa’s, armchairs, single beds, bedside cabinets etc.
With the owners consent I might lift corners of carpets, underlay to look at condition of concrete slab or floorboards, I might also take a scrape a sample of plaster for chemical analysis and if it’s an invasive survey, then where possible and without causing damage to the floor finish, I can cut and lift a floorboard or two, drill into walls and floorboards, so as to insert the boroscope, dig around at the base of external walls etc.
Ok this next bit, is a little industry niggle, we all have them whatever job we’re in! My reports include colour photographs. Some of my competitors don’t, I think that’s to their embarrassment. Yes it profit going out the window inserting photo’s into reports, but I don’t care. I’m on my third property, so I know what its like. You’re in a property for a snapshot second, ushered round at great pace by the estate agent who’s keen on a sale. The owners are standing in front of that dodgy floorboard, or peeled wallpaper the whole time. You’re hyped up looking at all the positives, not the negative’s and when you’re out and you’ve made your offer all excited, you actually can’t remember all those sections of wall, alcove, floor layout etc. Therefore, when you get a damp report which details defects, but doesn’t include photographs helping you to visualize where the problem is, then I don’t think that’s much use. You need to be able to see where the defect I’m referring to is. Oh and it’s not just some of my competitors, in fact they’re generally pretty good. Just take a look at the RICS survey; chances are that hasn’t got any photos in it either!
By the way, I’m regularly asked to look at houses larger than the norm, and that’s fine just let my office know in advance and we can either quote for the additional time to allocate on-site or reach an agreement where I’ll call and let you know what point I’ve reached after two hours. This saves me the embarrassment of having to call you, to say I’ve arrived at the property where just the kitchen is of a larger floor area, than my entire property. You laugh, but it has happened! – more than once!
So what happens after the survey? Well I’m happy to chat to you about my findings. We then put a detailed damp report together. This report highlights the defects, includes colour photographs, and lists the recommended remedial works in an easy to follow schedule of works. My office will then email and post out a hardcopy to you.