timber / damp survey

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sarah.t | 14:33 Tue 02nd Mar 2004 | Home & Garden
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We are in the process of buying a victorian house, and are having a homebuyers survey done. We were thinking of also getting a more in-depth survey done to check for damp, dry rot etc. (the homebuyers is unlikely to go into this much detail) - can anyone recommend a contact/company to use for this? There are specialists out there who seem to offer free surveys, but I'm suspicious that these will just find something wrong in order to charge you for expensive remedial work. Ideally we'd like someone who will give us a truthful survey, even if we have to pay them for this. Thanks.


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I think the sort of people offering free surveys are those offering damp correction services. They are for people who think/know they have damp and the survey is not to check for signs of damp but to check the extent and then quote a price to fix it. I think if you did call them (maybe you have) and told them you don't own the house then they would say as much. What you need is a structural survey which any good estate agent will be able to provide details for alternatively ask the solicitor who's dealing with the sale as they would be likely to know somebody. I'm not sure of the legal aspects but with the free type its more of an estimate, and as such would offer no legal protection so if they said all was OK and a year later the house fell down then you wouldn't have a case. However if you had a proper structural survey and the same thing happened then I think the company that carried out the survey would be in some way liable for some or all of the costs, so in effect the money you pay (something like �400 upwards) is insurance for the company in the event something did happen.
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Thanks BadBob, although I got the impression that even a full structural survey didn't go into this much depth and that we would need more specialist advice. Howvever I will try asking our solicitor if they can recommend anyone.
Why don't you review this when you have your Homebuyers survey? Surely you surveyor will be able to give you better advice about surveying issues than your solictor! If you need more reports than he will recommend them.
Some 30-plus years ago we had Rentokil do a full timber survey which covers both fungal and insect attack in our 1880s house. They subsequently carried out treatment as necessary and following that again we took out specialist (i.e. wood) insurance with them, which we have maintained, to cover any subsequent problems over and above treated areas (there was no rot, but woodworm was found in limited areas). They are not the cheapest but they are still in existence and we have complete peace of mind - a cheap guarantee in relation to value of the property, as far as we are concerned. No doubt other firms do something similar. When it comes to resale this record can be expected to represent a big plus.
Be careful with the mid priced homebuyers survey. We're also looking for a house to buy and if the homebuyers survey that was done on the house we sold is anything to go by. Well lets just say the guy that came didn't exactly knock himself out. He just stuck his head into the roof space, didn't get into the loft to inspect the timbers and basically did no more than wander around for a while. We're looking for an older house like you and will definitely have a full survey done, because they are much more accountable for anything missed. Mind you it'll cost a bob or two depending on the size of the house you're buying. But what price piece of mind? Good luck. bizzylizzy
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thanks bizzylizzy. We were advised that even though a full structural survey is more in-depth, they still don't check everything you may assume they would, and unless your property has had major alterations or is very run-down, its probably not necessary to have. That's why we thought of the homebuyers but then get additional surveys for any areas we suspect may be problematic - such as the damp and timber. Just watch out - we have friends who had a full survey on their victorian house, and now a year after moving in they have discovered extensive dry rot, which must have been there at the time of the survey, and have been through hell trying to get it eradicated. Of course they're trying to prove that the surveyor was negligent, but because the rot was under the floor and behind the plaster, these are not places the surveyor specifically looked. So check the small print in the surveyors contract !

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