Buying a house is a huge decision, it’s the largest financial commitment most of us will ever make and with that in mind it is a sound investment to secure an independent survey from a RICS chartered surveyor. An independent surveyor will provide you with impartial advice about the house you want to buy, allowing you to make an informed decision. The type of survey you require will depend on the house and we break down our different services for you here. Whilst reports are prepared to be as easy to understand as possible, there are terms that may not be immediately recognisable to you, after all, buying a house isn’t a frequent occurrence and you wouldn’t necessarily come across them unless you were a surveyor or builder! At Avery & Co we are happy to talk you through your report and make sure that you understand the contents, allowing you to have the full picture before you make a final decision to buy, renegotiate or walk away.
Below we have compiled the first of our Surveys Explained lists. We will take from A-M and cover all of the common terms that may crop up on a report to help you understand:
Pebbles, shingle, gravel etc. used in the manufacture of concrete, and in the construction of “soakaways”.
Perforated brick used for ventilation, especially to floor voids (beneath timber floors) and roof spaces.
Joinery moulding around window or doorway.
Fibrous mineral used in the past for insulation. Can be a health hazard. Specialist advice should be sought if asbestos (especially blue asbestos) is found.
Cement with 10-15% asbestos fibre as reinforcement. Fragile – will not bear heavy weights. Hazardous fibres may be released if cut or drilled.
Finely dressed natural stone: the best grade of masonry.
Black, tar-like substance, strongly adhesive and impervious to moisture. Used on flat roofs and floors.
Common metal device normally serving gas appliances which allows air to be drawn to the appliance whilst also allowing fumes to escape.
Timber, sometimes decorative, placed at the verge of a roof: also known as verge board.
BEETLE INFESTATION (WOOD BORING INSECTS: WOODWORM.)
Larvae of various species of beetle which tunnel into timber causing damage. Specialist treatment normally required. Can also be found in furniture.
Smoothly contoured concrete slope beside drainage channel within an inspection chamber. Also known as Haunching.
Black, sticky substance, related to asphalt. Used in sealants, mineral felts and damp-proof courses.
Name originates from cinders (“breeze”), the material used to make them. The term now commonly used to refer to various types of concrete and cement building blocks.
A natural process affecting the outer layer of concrete. Metal reinforcement within that layer is liable to early corrosion, with consequent fracturing of the concrete.
Standard modern method of building external walls of houses comprising two leaves of brick or blockwork separated by a gap (“cavity”) of about 50mm.
CAVITY WALL INSULATION
Filling of wall cavities by one of various forms of insulation material:
Beads: Polystyrene beads pumped into the cavities. Will easily fall out if the wall is broken open for any reason. Foam: Urea formaldehyde form, mixed on site, and pumped into the cavities where it sets. Can lead to problems of dampness and make replacement of wall-ties more difficult. Rockwool: Inert mineral fibre pumped into the cavity.
Metal device bedded into the inner and outer leaves of cavity walls to strengthen the wall. Failure by corrosion can result in the wall becoming unstable. Specialist replacement ties are then required.
A simple method of drainage comprising a holding tank which needs frequent emptying. Not to be confused with Septic Tank.
Also referred to as “particle board”. Chips of wood compressed and glued into sheet form. Cheap method of decking to flat roofs, floors and (with Formica or Melamine surface) furniture, especially kitchen units.
Horizontal timber member intended to restrain opposing roof slopes. Absence, removal or weakening can lead to Roof Spread.
Modern form of gas boiler which activates on demand. With this form of boiler there is no need for water storage tanks or hot water cylinders.
The process by which water vapour becomes a liquid.
Usually stone or concrete, laid on top of a wall as a decorative finish and to stop rainwater soaking into the wall.
Projection of stone, brick, timber or metal jutting out from a wall to support a weight.
Ornamental moulded projection around the top of a building or around the wall of a room just below the ceiling.
Curved junction between wall and ceiling.
Wooden moulding fixed horizontally to a wall, about 1 metre (3ft 4in) above the floor, originally intended to protect the wall against damage by chair-backs.
Layer of impervious material (mineral felt, pvc etc.) incorporated into a wall to prevent dampness rising up the wall or lateral dampness around windows, doors etc.. Various proprietary methods are available for damp-proofing existing walls including “electro-osmosis” and chemical injection.
DEATHWATCH BEETLE (XESTOBIUM RUFOVILLOSUM.)
Serious insect pest in structural timbers, usually affects old hardwoods with fungal decay already present.
A method of thermal insulation usually either: Sealed unit: Two panes of glass fixed and hermetically sealed together; or Secondary: In effect a second “window” placed inside the original window.
DRY ROT (SERPULA LACRYMANS.)
A fungus which attacks structural and joinery timbers, can have devastating results. Tends to flourish in moist, unventilated areas.
The overhanging edge of a roof.
Salts crystallized on the surface of a wall as a result of moisture evaporation.
Particularly strong and dense type of brick, sometimes used as a damp-proof course.
Cheap, lightweight board material of little strength, used in ceilings or as insulation to attics.
A building technique used to prevent leakage at a roof joint. Normally metal (lead, zinc, copper) but can be cement, felt or proprietary material.
Contoured cement around the base of chimney pots, designed to secure the pot and to displace rain.
A smoke duct in a chimney, or a single pipe serving a heat-producing appliance such as a central heating boiler.
Metal (usually stainless steel) tube within a flue – essential for high output gas appliances such as boilers. May also be made from clay and built into the flue.
Normally concrete, laid underground as a structural base to a wall: in older buildings may be brick or stone.
A depression imprinted in the upper surface of a brick, to save clay, reduce weight and increase the strength of the wall. Bricks should always be laid frog uppermost.
Upper section of a wall, usually triangular in shape, at either end of a ridged roof.
Swelling of clay sub-soil resulting from absorption of moisture: can cause an upward movement in foundations.
An opening into a drain, normally at ground level, placed to receive water etc. from downpipes and wastepipes.
See Benching. Also term used to describe the support to a drain underground.
The external junction between two intersecting roof slopes.
Commonly called “man-hole”. Access point to a drain comprising a chamber (of brick, concrete or plastic) with the drainage channel at its base and a removable cover at ground level.
Side part of a doorway or window.
Horizontal structural timber used in flat roof, ceiling and floor construction. Occasionally also metal.
Downhill movement of unstable earth, clay, rock etc. often following prolonged heavy rain or coastal erosion, but sometimes due entirely to sub-soil having little cohesive integrity.
Thin strip of wood used in the fixing of roof tiles or slates, or as a backing to plaster.
Horizontal structural beam of timber, stone, steel or concrete placed over window or door openings.
LPG LIQUID PETROLEUM GAS OR PROPANE.
Available to serve gas appliances in areas without mains gas. Requires a storage tank.
Mixture of sand, cement, lime and water, used to join stones or bricks.
A vertical bar dividing individual lights in a window
We hope you found the list informative and we will be posting N-Z in the next few days in our Surveyors Explained Part 2!
As always, if you would like advice on which survey is right for you, or want to chat through the findings of a survey already completed, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0330 088 5040 we would be happy to help.
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