Warning: "continue" targeting switch is equivalent to "break". Did you mean to use "continue 2"? in /customers/0/d/b/wessexsurveyors.co.uk/httpd.www/wp-content/plugins/revslider/includes/operations.class.php on line 2854 Warning: "continue" targeting switch is equivalent to "break". Did you mean to use "continue 2"? in /customers/0/d/b/wessexsurveyors.co.uk/httpd.www/wp-content/plugins/revslider/includes/operations.class.php on line 2858 Warning: "continue" targeting switch is equivalent to "break". Did you mean to use "continue 2"? in /customers/0/d/b/wessexsurveyors.co.uk/httpd.www/wp-content/plugins/revslider/includes/output.class.php on line 3708 Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /customers/0/d/b/wessexsurveyors.co.uk/httpd.www/wp-content/plugins/revslider/includes/operations.class.php:2854) in /customers/0/d/b/wessexsurveyors.co.uk/httpd.www/wp-includes/feed-rss2.php on line 8 Wessex Surveyors https://wessexsurveyors.co.uk Dorset surveyors covering residential, commercial and rural property matters across the Wessex Region Tue, 08 Sep 2020 09:32:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.4 Could dogs be the future of Japanese knotweed detection? https://wessexsurveyors.co.uk/2020/09/could-dogs-be-the-future-of-japanese-knotweed-detection/ Tue, 08 Sep 2020 09:27:20 +0000 https://wessexsurveyors.co.uk/?p=1143 The RFA who specialises in security, explosive detection and search dog training has successfully trained two dogs that can detect Japanese knotweed. These dogs have been provided to a UK company that specialises in the detection of Japanese knotweed and…

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The RFA who specialises in security, explosive detection and search dog training has successfully trained two dogs that can detect Japanese knotweed.

These dogs have been provided to a UK company that specialises in the detection of Japanese knotweed and removal.  The dogs are capable of detecting the knotweed under the ground when the plant is dormant during the winter.

Japanese Knotweed is top of the Environment Agency’s list of the UK’s most invasive plant species. The knotweed is described as “indisputably the UK’s most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant”.

With some areas of the country at very high risk of the spread of Japanese knotweed, could this be the key to future control of the weed?

Photo credit Environet UK.

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Finlock Gutters https://wessexsurveyors.co.uk/2020/04/finlock-gutters/ Wed, 15 Apr 2020 10:20:59 +0000 https://wessexsurveyors.co.uk/?p=1114 Finlock gutters were commonly used during the 1960s and are very much of their time and in most cases are now past their time as well. The gutter system was intended to be a combined cavity closer, lintel and gutter…

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Finlock gutters were commonly used during the 1960s and are very much of their time and in most cases are now past their time as well. The gutter system was intended to be a combined cavity closer, lintel and gutter system to speed up and simplify construction.   The system comprises an integrated concrete gutter, lintel and eaves product that is fitted in sections which are typically 200mm to 250mm width, incorporating a cavity closure at their head.

Common problems include –

  • An inadequate number of outlets which causes flooding and leakage.
  • Gutters have often been lined or sealed with an asphalt or similar liquid applied product – older repairs have very often not only failed but worsened the problem as the finish is crude and uneven and the channel size has been reduced and so has capacity.
  • Gutters are generally laid level and are consequently extremely liable to blockage and flooding, over time the sections settle and become misaligned making this situation worse.
  • As sections settle the joints open up and can start to leak, this leakage can become apparent on the inside of the building.

Condensation and dampness becomes evident internally, typically to the upper 200mm or so of the wall. This develops as a result of a ‘cold bridge’.  Quite often Finlock gutters were used above cavity walls which were insulated or had better thermal performance.  The concrete gutter is solid from outside to inside and so when it is cold outside the concrete sections are colder inside than the adjacent surfaces and so attract condensation when environmental conditions are right.  This can often be seen as a line of black mould just below the ceiling.

Repair can be carried out, essentially it is a choice between lining the gutter or cutting away the protruding section of gutter and fixing a more traditional fascia board and gutter. Both methods have their benefits and will work, on balance we prefer to see them cut away rather than lined because that helps to relieve the condensation problem.

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Japanese Knotweed https://wessexsurveyors.co.uk/2020/01/japanese-knotweed/ Fri, 03 Jan 2020 15:55:47 +0000 https://wessexsurveyors.co.uk/?p=1081 Whilst doing a survey of a property in Yeovil our surveyor noted that there was an established growth of injurious weeds, in particular Japanese knotweed. Japanese knotweed has become a significant issue and in some cases affects saleability and value…

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Whilst doing a survey of a property in Yeovil our surveyor noted that there was an established growth of injurious weeds, in particular Japanese knotweed. Japanese knotweed has become a significant issue and in some cases affects saleability and value of properties.

In this case, the infestation was a significant distance away from the main building. As a result, it did not and was unlikely to affect the main building structures in the near future. However, the fact that the property had Japanese knotweed was a significant negative feature and, strictly speaking, the owner of the property is responsible for cutting back, controlling and exterminating this injurious weed. Such works are generally best carried out by approved contractors under reliable guarantees which can prove costly.

Japanese knotweed is perennial and extremely invasive. It can damage properties. It thrives on disturbance; the tiniest piece can re-grow, and spread by both natural means and human activity. It has hollow stems with distinct raised nodes that give it the appearance of bamboo, though it is not closely related. While stems may reach a maximum height of 3-4 metres each growing season, it is typical to see much smaller plants in places where they sprout through cracks in the pavement or are repeatedly cut down. In wet areas, high water flows disperse fragments of the plant downstream where new colonies form. In the past, fly-tipping and transportation of soil containing rhizome fragments have been a major cause of spread, particularly in the urban environment. For further information visit www.nonnativespecies.org or visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/prevent-japanese-knotweed-from-spreading

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Windows & Fire Safety https://wessexsurveyors.co.uk/2019/09/windows-fire-safety/ Wed, 04 Sep 2019 12:13:34 +0000 https://wessexsurveyors.co.uk/?p=1038 On a recent Building Survey at a barn conversion near Chard, the surveyor was concerned that the windows at first floor level did not provide adequate egress/escape in case of fire and emergency. The first floor windows were considered too…

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On a recent Building Survey at a barn conversion near Chard, the surveyor was concerned that the windows at first floor level did not provide adequate egress/escape in case of fire and emergency. The first floor windows were considered too small for escape purposes. The client was advised to allow for alterations to overcome this shortcoming before purchase and, where necessary, budget for replacement or improvement. The advice from FENSA was quoted in the survey report – as below:

Windows and fire safety:

A fire escape window is required on the ground floor in any habitable room that does not open onto a hall leading directly to an exit door e.g. an inner room.
A fire escape window is required on upper floors not more than 4.5m above ground level in every habitable room (unless the room has direct access to a “protected stairway”). This is usually the case for the upstairs of a conventional two-storey dwelling.
A habitable room does not include a kitchen or a bathroom.
Upper floors more than 4.5m above ground level should be accessed by a “protected stairway” or an alternative escape route and therefore fire escape windows are not required.
There is no requirement to have more than one escape window in a room.
A fire escape window should have an unobstructed openable area that is at least 0.33m² and at least 450mm high or 450mm wide. If one of the dimensions is at the 450mm minimum then the other dimension will need to be at least 734mm to achieve 0.33m². The route through the window may be at an angle rather than straight through.
The bottom of the openable area should be no more than 1100mm above the floor.
If the outgoing window meets the minimum openable area size of 0.33m² and 450mm dimension, then the replacement should meet these minimum requirements however, if the outgoing openable area exceeds the minimum requirements, there is no obligation for the new window to meet this larger size, as long as it meets the minimum requirement of 0.33m² and 450mm. Similarly, if the openable area complies by being less than 1100mm above floor level then the replacement should also comply by being less than 1100mm, but there is no obligation for it to be any lower than 1100mm above floor level even if the outgoing window is lower.

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Spray Foam Insulation https://wessexsurveyors.co.uk/2019/06/spray-foam-insulation/ Wed, 26 Jun 2019 16:06:00 +0000 https://wessexsurveyors.co.uk/?p=1003 Our surveyor recently did an ISVA HomeSurvey on a 1980’s property near Sherborne. When he inspected the roof space he was dismayed to find that the underside of the main roof covering was hidden from view. In recent times, a…

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Our surveyor recently did an ISVA HomeSurvey on a 1980’s property near Sherborne. When he inspected the roof space he was dismayed to find that the underside of the main roof covering was hidden from view. In recent times, a spray foam insulation had been applied to the underside of the main roof covering, concealing parts of the roof structure and the likely roof underlay. This is not considered best practice by most surveyors. Furthermore, it is likely that some lenders may have difficulty in accepting such a property for mortgage/finance purposes unless the foam insulation is removed and the roof made good. As a result, the surveyor felt that this affected saleability and value of the property.
He advised that before purchase further details regarding the specification and warranties relating to this retrofit insulation should be sought. In the worst case scenario, he felt that provision should be allowed for removal and repairs and/or replacement of the roof where necessary. However, to put matters into perspective, he felt it was unlikely that this retrofit insulation would cause a significant problem in the near future but could not rule out shortcomings/problems in the long term. It was also noted that this foam insulation potentially traps moisture to hidden roof timbers and potentially hides defects. In addition, it makes it difficult to locate and carry out repairs to the roof.

January 2020 – Towards the end of last year we were horrified to discover spray foam insulation in the roof of a Grade II Listed property during a Building Survey. As our surveyor noted in his report, this would contravene Listed building policy and it is likely that it would be necessary to have it removed which is difficult and very costly. Caution is advised when thinking of installing this type of insulation in any property.

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Replacement roof coverings https://wessexsurveyors.co.uk/2018/11/replacement-roof-coverings/ Wed, 14 Nov 2018 14:36:15 +0000 https://wessexsurveyors.co.uk/?p=897 Our surveyor recently visited a property near Lyme Regis which was of mixed construction and immediately noticed that there was a problem with the roof which appeared to be undulating (see photo).  The roof was covered with a concrete interlocking…

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Our surveyor recently visited a property near Lyme Regis which was of mixed construction and immediately noticed that there was a problem with the roof which appeared to be undulating (see photo).  The roof was covered with a concrete interlocking tiled roof covering.  The original roof covering would probably have been a lightweight, felt or timber shingle-style covering but the replacement concrete tiled roof covering was heavier i.e. the concrete tiles increased the load-bearing weight on the roof structure.  The original timber roof structure was not designed to cope with the concrete tiled roof covering. Externally there was evidence of significant movement, sagging and deflection to the roof covering suggesting underlying weaknesses to the timber roof structure.  It appeared the movement was arrested by subsequent timber repairs and strengthening works in the roof void carried out under engineer’s advice (see photo).  However the timber roof structure was still considered to be inherently weak. Our surveyor advised the roof would benefit from replacement to modern standards/best practice.  The future life of the existing timber roof structure was considered unpredictable and the client was advised to budget for complete replacement in the foreseeable future otherwise it would always remain a concern.

Concrete tiles are currently the most widely used roofing material. They are machine manufactured and are produced in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours. They are far heavier than some alternative covering materials which should be borne in mind if ever you are considering re-covering a roof.  Extra timber support is nearly always required and you should take advice before carrying out the work.

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Pitch Fibre Drains https://wessexsurveyors.co.uk/2018/07/pitch-fibre-drains/ Wed, 11 Jul 2018 15:56:19 +0000 https://wessexsurveyors.co.uk/?p=877 When recently carrying out a Building Survey on a Grade II Listed flat in West Bay the cover to the drainage chamber was lifted and pitch fibre drainage pipes were discovered. Pitch fibre drainage pipes were introduced in the 1940s,…

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When recently carrying out a Building Survey on a Grade II Listed flat in West Bay the cover to the drainage chamber was lifted and pitch fibre drainage pipes were discovered.

Pitch fibre drainage pipes were introduced in the 1940s, and used extensively until the 1970s.

Manufactured in lengths of 8ft from wood fibre impregnated with coal tar, with push fit joints (no sealing rings), they offered a quick and easy installation with no need for the sand and cement haunching of joints associated with clay pipe work, bedded on sand they were thought to be a modern flexible drainage system.

However, the design life of pitch fibre pipes was recently estimated to be about 40 years, meaning that some will have reached the end of their life expectancy. At first, the internal wall blisters and de-laminates but in time they can collapse, blocking the drain run.

Delaminated and collapsed pitch-fibre pipes can be forced back into shape with a re-rounding tool dragged through them, they can then be lined with a resin-impregnated polyester textile liner which is designed to be strong enough to withstand further movement.

If deteriorating pitch fibre pipes are not attended to they will undoubtedly fail, leading to expensive excavation and renewal.

On 1 October 2011, water and sewerage companies in England and Wales became responsible for private sewers, which were previously the responsibility of property owners. This means that the ownership and maintenance for private sewers and lateral drains were transferred. However, not all private pipes were included. There are some cases where the property owners remain responsible for the sections of pipe between the property/building and the transferred private sewer or lateral drain. You or your legal adviser should gain further advice on this matter from the local sewerage provider.

It is possible that your insurance company will pay for the repair.  Insurance companies may at first refute your claim – if this happens please refer to http://www.financial-ombudsman.org/publications/technical_notes/pitch-fibre-pipes.html – some claims have been successfully decided in favour of the householder.

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Damp and the importance of maintaining lead flashing https://wessexsurveyors.co.uk/2018/06/damp-and-the-importance-of-maintaining-lead-flashing/ Fri, 22 Jun 2018 11:54:13 +0000 https://wessexsurveyors.co.uk/?p=865 During a recent survey of a property in Crewkerne signs of damp were identified within the house.  On one wall the stain was directly below the abutment between the roof to the extension and rear main wall elevation.  It is…

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During a recent survey of a property in Crewkerne signs of damp were identified within the house.  On one wall the stain was directly below the abutment between the roof to the extension and rear main wall elevation.  It is likely that some windblown weather penetration had occurred at this abutment detail at roof height externally in the past.  The lead flashing detail of the abutment had been temporarily sealed and we advised that this would require regular attention/monitoring to ensure weather tightness.  Ideally, in the long term, the lead flashing and soaker detailing should be replaced to avoid such risks in the future.

There were also signs of damp staining to timberwork in the rear extension roof void directly underneath the abutment between the rear extension roof and rear main wall elevation. We felt this was as a result of defects to the lead flashing detail at the abutment.  As before, the lead flashing detail of the abutment had been temporarily sealed and we advised that this would require regular attention/monitoring to ensure weather tightness.  Again, ideally in the long term, the lead flashing and soaker detailing should be replaced to avoid such risks in the future.

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Bay window movement https://wessexsurveyors.co.uk/2018/05/bay-window-movement/ Thu, 31 May 2018 13:38:38 +0000 https://wessexsurveyors.co.uk/?p=847 On occasions we see a bay window which has moved in relation to the main building. Recently we noticed evidence of historical structural movement to the front bay window structure of a property.  It is likely the front bay window…

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On occasions we see a bay window which has moved in relation to the main building.

Recently we noticed evidence of historical structural movement to the front bay window structure of a property.  It is likely the front bay window structure had slightly tipped outwards in relation to the main building.  Our surveyor saw evidence of some cracking/filled mortar joints and brickwork externally and also evidence of some movement between the floorboard and bay window structure at first floor level.

Based on a one-off inspection, the level and nature of movement appeared to be minor and historic in nature.  It is not unusual for the foundation to the bay window structure to be constructed to a lesser extent than the main building structure.  There is often therefore some differential movement between the bay window structure and main building.  In this case the surveyor felt that the level and nature of movement to date did not warrant urgent remedial work.

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Non-Conventional Construction https://wessexsurveyors.co.uk/2018/05/non-conventional-construction/ Thu, 31 May 2018 13:04:47 +0000 https://wessexsurveyors.co.uk/?p=844 We were recently asked to survey a bungalow in Charmouth.  We soon discovered that the construction of the original part of the property was non-conventional.  In this case construction was old basic timber frame construction (timber studwork approximately 4 inches…

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We were recently asked to survey a bungalow in Charmouth.  We soon discovered that the construction of the original part of the property was non-conventional.  In this case construction was old basic timber frame construction (timber studwork approximately 4 inches in thickness).  The original timber frame has since been protected with a prefabricated reconstituted stone/concrete block outer leaf.  This original structure still forms just over half the current floor area of the bungalow.

The bungalow has since been extended and altered a number of times since original construction with reconstituted stone/cavity concrete block walls, ie. conventional build.

However, the fact that a significant proportion of the bungalow is considered a non-conventional construction may well affect future saleability and value as some lenders are dubious about accepting this nature of construction for lending purposes.

We advised that this be considered prior to purchase.

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