By asking the assistance of a historic property surveyor, a building survey, or building condition report will provide situation-specific advice that will allow you to make the reparations needed. Historic properties may be timber framed, so special care is needed when conducting inspections and repairs. If owning a classical historic property is your dream, you will need to enlist in the services of a historic property surveyor. Read on to find out what exactly a historic building survey entails and why it is so important.
A Look at the Outside
The surveyor will normally start by looking at the outside of the property, taking into account whether it all appears to be ‘all of a piece’ meaning whether or not it has later additions and alterations. The shape of the property, whether it is a ‘house, shop, workshop’ etc. will be taken into account, the shape and appearance of the roof, the number of chimney stacks, the construction materials used for the walls and roof and a wide range of other aspects of the property.
An estimate will be given of the age of the property based on its external appearance. The surveyor may also take into account the local surroundings of the property, whether or not it sits on a main or side road, the proximity of the other buildings and more. Any immediate external damage to the property is also recorded for the full report.
Visible and Hidden Internal Features
A thorough historic property survey will take a look at all visible and internal features. This may include a floor plan of each storey of the house, documenting the shape and position of any lobbies, passageways and stairs. It takes into account whether or not there is a cellar in the property, how it is accessed and whether its shape matches that of the ground floor. The survey will look at any differentiations in floor and ceiling levels as this is an indication of additions or alterations to the property over time.
When looking at hidden internal features, access to the roof and cellar is required subject to the owner’s agreement. The roof structure contains a lot of clues in deducing the approximate age of a building and a surveyor will look into this in a great amount of detail. Checks will be conducted on the appearance of the timbers to see whether or not there are any changes or signs of re-use. An estimate may be made on the property based on the construction of the roof, so access is essential when valuing a historic property.
There will be times where a well-meaning yet less informed previous owner has intended to renovate the property using more modern methods. While this doesn’t always actually damage the property in itself, it can look rather out of place in a historic setting and subsequently can damage the overall value of the property. Indications of these extensions or renovations can be seen by the presence of ‘external’ features that are now internal, such as wall plinths.
A detailed survey by an experienced surveyor will be able to highlight modern renovation areas and will sometimes give advice on what can be done to restore the property to its original condition. Renovations aren’t always done for the benefit of the building, so it is good to get an idea of what is recommended when looking at a historic property.
Where it comes to repairing a historical building, you will need to be careful. Historical properties were built in a different manner to the modern properties we see so often today. So you will need a professional tradesperson who has specific experience in the repair of historic properties, in order to avoid any stupid mistakes. Certain historic properties are also timber-framed, so special care needs to be taken into consideration when looking at restoration, treatment, the prevention of further damage etc. If you are unsure as to whether or not a defect is repairable, get a professional involved!
Purchasing a historic property could be everything you’ve dreamed it would be. It could also be a renovation and repairs nightmare case. The difference is the quality of the survey and the experience of the surveyor giving you that detailed information. In order to avoid disappointment and a staggering repairs bill, it is always recommended that you go with a professional, licensed surveyor with experience in listed and historic properties. You will be better off in the long run!
Article provided by Sara Bryant, an independent content writer in the finance sector – working alongside a selection of companies including Chartered Surveyor firm Chiltern Associates, who were consulted over the information contained in this piece.