Common House Survey Problems

What are Common House Survey Problems? Buying a property is the biggest investment you are ever likely to make and so it makes sense to have an impartial and independent survey done on the property before you commit to making

What are Common House Survey Problems?

Buying a property is the biggest investment you are ever likely to make and so it makes sense to have an impartial and independent survey done on the property before you commit to making that investment. Any defects, issues and the associated repairs will be highlighted in your survey report, allowing you to make an informed decision about the property. In 2020 almost 100,000 homes were purchased without having a survey done first even though having a professional survey performed can uncover problems that the current homeowner isn’t aware of. So, what are common house survey problems?


Damp is one of the most common problems that we find when performing a survey, especially in older properties.   Damp can present itself in different ways depending on the source, condensation can build in areas with poor ventilation, and leaks or structural issues can cause rising damp up the walls or penetrating damp.  If untreated it can cause structural damage by causing the deterioration of brick and plaster, rotting of wood, and rusting of steel and iron structural components. Damp can also create unhealthy living conditions by exacerbating respiratory problems and providing an environment in which bacteria can thrive. There are 3 main types of damp:

  1. Rising damp: This is caused by water from the ground working its way up through the brickwork. You can usually see the first signs of this in damaged skirting boards, floorboards, damage to plaster which may cause it to become crumbly, and peeling wallpaper.
  2. Penetrating damp: This is more commonly found in older buildings. Penetrating damp, as its name suggests, is caused by water finding its way into the building’s structure, usually through cracked brickwork or a damaged roof.  It can be identified by damp patches on the walls, floors and ceilings.
  3. Condensation: The most common type of damp in the UK, especially between October and March. Caused when water vapour condenses on the walls. Usually identified by water droplets on the walls, damaged plaster and paint and decaying window frames. A major cause of this poor ventilation in the affected area.

Fortunately, there are several methods for dealing with damp in your home once it has been identified; Ventilation and dehumidifiers can help with condensation issues and maintaining a constant low or medium temperature can also prevent the damp from forming.

Rising damp may require the instillation of a damp-proof course, which is a material installed into the wall with a membrane that keeps the water from climbing up through your walls. If the damp issue is related to a crack in your roof or a leaky pipe, you may require a qualified professional to fully assess and fix the defect.

Roof Issues

Problems with a roof noted on a survey can vary from minor issues such as a  few cracked or missing tiles or a cracked guttering, to larger issues that can warrant having the whole roof replaced. It important to keep the roof in good condition because leaks can lead to  penetrating damp or larger structural issues if not resolved. The price of fixing the roof will depend on the issue detected, it is always cheaper to address these issues as soon as they are noted, it can become much more costly if they go unchecked and cause structural damage.

If the issue is minor then it probably won’t need a specialist – tile replacement can be carried out by any suitably-qualified handyman who is comfortable working at heights. However, if the problem is more serious you might need to seek more information about the problems and how much they would cost to fix.


Homebuyers can become very nervous about any internal or external cracks that they see in a property they want to buy. However, not all cracks are serious, especially in plaster, and not all cracks mean that the house is suffering from subsidence or structural movement. Subsidence is when the ground beneath the property moves downwards because of a change in soil water content. The most common cause of this is vegetation, particularly trees, removing water from the soil, but subsidence can also be caused by a damaged drain or water pipe. Subsidence affects the stability of the property, which not only makes it difficult to insure but could also be a real danger for inhabitants.

If subsidence is there , you will need a professional assessment and details of require repairs which could cost tens of thousands of pounds. Subsidence can be treated by fixing the underlying cause, for example by removing problematic vegetation or repairing damaged pipes or drains. As a last resort the foundations of the property can be underpinned, but this option is often expensive and time-consuming. After repair works have taken place the area in question will need to be monitored over time.

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed is a fast growing and invasive plant. It can be very difficult to eradicate as it’s pervasive and also resistant to certain methods of control. Its deep roots mean the plant has potential, if unmanaged, to cause major structural damage to properties. It can cause cracks in driveways whether tarmac and brickwork, and may block drains running under your property as it seeks out the light and water it needs to flourish.

There is no need for a total panic, it is no longer the deal-breaker it once was. If it is spotted early, before the root system has managed to mature, it is much easier to get rid of. There are treatments available now that come with an insurance backed guarantee and if there is one in place it should mean that you are able to secure a mortgage. There are even insurance policies available now to protect from Japanese Knotweed, which will cover the cost of treatment, repairs and legal expenses should the Knotweed spread to neighbour’s properties. You can also insure against a drop in property value should the Knotweed return. You can read more about Japanese Knotweed in our blog, Don’t Panic, it’s Only Japanese Knotweed! 

These are Some Common House Survey Problems

These are just some of the common house survey problems we come across when we are performing surveys. It does highlight the benefit of having a survey before you decide to buy, it can put you in a much stronger position to renegotiate if problems are found. You can also ask for repairs to be done before you agree to buy.

If you are just starting on your house-hunting journey, or you have found a property yo like and would like a professional, independent survey from a company that puts customer service at the heart of what we do, then please do get in touch. All of our surveyors are RICS registered, approachable and happy to discuss the findings of the report and its implications with you.

You can fill out the form on our contact page or call 0330 088 5040  to speak to one of the team.