Historic Building and Listed building surveys
Choosing the right level of survey is important, finding the right Surveyor is essential.
If you are considering buying a Listed, Historic or Traditionally Constructed Property, then a Listed Building Survey is the only type of survey you should be choosing. The RICS offer a number of different levels of survey but if you choose anything less than an Historic Building Survey you are unlikely to receive the level of information needed to make properly informed decisions.
Surveying historic and traditionally constructed buildings requires experience, academic training and considerable mental agility to make sense of what can often turn out to be an amalgamation of different building phases.
We understand that different building phases can have very speccific age related defects, and that what may be considered a defect in one building, may be a normal characteristic in another.
We are mindful that every Historic or Traditionally Constructed Building is unique and that it is likely to have been subject to later alterations using materials and techniques that can sometimes have unintended consequences.
We take great care to identify and record historically or architecturally significant fabric and explain the cause and implication of any defects that may be present. We look carefully for signs of unauthorised or badly executed repairs and alterations and alert you to the legal and practical consequences.
Nearly all pre-purchase surveys will be non-destructive, our training and experience allows us to provide a balanced realistic assessment of the risks posed by the potential presence of latent defects, and advise whether further destructive surveying maybe appropriate.
Our survey reports are bespoke, clear, concise and provide well informed and pragmatic options for dealing with any defects. In most cases we avoid deferring to others on important issues and ensure that our clients receive the most comprehensive report possible.
Our conclusions and recommendations are based on sensitive and intelligent surveying and a clear understanding of the expected performance standards for the type and age of the building being inspected.
Surveys are usually undertaken by myself and at least one assistant, this allows us to gather more site information and provide you with a more accurate and detailed report.
Our client list includes private clients who own, or are looking to buy a Listed or Traditionally Constructed Property, Conservation Architects, Church Councils, Country Estates, Property Managers, Conservation Organisations and Historic Housing Trusts. Our Portfolio includes World Heritage Sites, Grade II Listed Buildings as well as Traditionally Constructed Unlisted Buildings.
It has become increasingly common to be commissioned to undertake a re-survey, this is generally because the client is disappointed with the level of information in the initial survey report, or because something has come to light which suggests that the initial surveyor has reached the wrong conclusions or acted negligently. An example of a re-survey can be found in case studies
Timber Frame Surveys
We have an excellent reputation for producing detailed and accurate condition reports and pragmatic repair specifications for timber frame buildings. If the building is listed, this information will normally form part of any application for Listed Building Consent.
Timber frame buildings require very careful inspection, ideally this involves some destructive surveying, however this is rarely allowed at the pre-purchase stage and this is where an experienced eye and good understanding of this type of construction is essential.
Timber frames tend to decay preferentially and defects are often cleverly concealed with non-structural fillers and disguised by recent decoration, our extensive experience with timber frames tells us where to look and what to expect.
If we suspect serious latent defects in a timber frame and you intend to proceed with the purchase, we will advise you of the risks and potential costs and recommend that you commission a destructive survey once you take ownership of the property.
Damp and Timber Surveys
After structural defects, damp and timber decay are probably the most common concerns for people considering buying a traditionally constructed building.
Almost without exception every traditionally constructed building will have a certain amount of damp. Whether damp is causing harm to the building or the occupants is a matter of fact, whether it is a significant issue is often a matter of opinion decided by the client or in some cases their lender.
Without the benefit of membranes and wall cavities, historic buildings do absorb a certain amount of moisture, in many cases this has little or no effect on the building. If the building has inherent design flaws or it has been altered in such a way that the ability of the fabric to release excess moisture has been reduced, then problems can occur.
We assess the type, level and consequences of any damp during pre-purchase surveys using non- invasive techniques, but for legal or technical reasons there are occasions when further destructive testing is necessary. Where quantitive measurements are required we will remove samples of plaster and masonry, these are then tested under strictly controlled conditions to establish free and ambient moisture levels as well as salt content.
We undertake invasive and non-invasive surveys to identify timber decay and wood boring insects.
A condition survey can be undertaken for any part of a building or structure.
This type of survey is normally undertaken to help plan and prepare maintenance and repair specifications. The reports will also often form part of an application for Planning Permission and Listed Building Consent, a typical example is where a conservation officer needs detailed information before deciding whether to allow the replacement of a window or some other element.
Most commonly we are asked to prepare condition reports for; roofs, windows, decorative plaster, masonry, metal structures and timber elements.
Measured Surveys and Building Records
Having a measured survey is important if you are planning any significant alterations and can be used for accurate pricing, space planning and visualisation.
Measured surveys are undertaken to establish the existing conditions, this can be for planning and design purposes and as the basis of a specification.
Measured surveys can be very useful for identifying anomalies in the structures such as unsupported walls and can reveal previously undiscovered voids.
Depending on the size of the building we hand measure or use a technique called photogrammetry to produce highly accurate floor plans and elevations. A Building record is just that, it is a written, photographic and drawn record, usually of the historically significant elements of the building. Not normally required for smaller properties but often a requirement when considering changes to larger or important historic buildings.