5 year Property Checks

These checks are looking at the main structure of the property - they can also be useful when looking to purchase a house.

Outside checks.

The outside checks can normally be done from ground level - if anything looks out of place then a closer look may be necessary but a look from the ground will usually detect some sign of a problem.

  • Chimney stack:
    • Check if the stack is leaning, take at least two views at right angles to each other.
    • How does the pointing/flashing around the stack look like, does it need attention.
    • Are the chimney pots leaning or damaged (i.e. cracks etc) ?
    • Is there any sign of plant growth around the pots/stack ?
  • House walls:
    • Look along the line of each wall, is it straight or bowed in or out ?
    • Look up each wall, does it look vertical or is it leaning ?
    • Check the state of the pointing, on exposed sites it could need replacing.
    • If the wall is rendered/pebble-dashed, what's it's condition.
    • Are any bricks cracked, flaking or eroding ?
    • Are there any cracks in the wall ?
      • Not all cracks imply serious faults; if cracks follow the line of the mortar, this usually suggests less of a problem than if the crack breaks across bricks or blocks. Also look on the inside of the house for cracks, if they seem to be in the same area of wall as cracks outside, this could suggest the whole structure has moved - for peace of mind, consult a Building Surveyor.
    • Check for gaps between door/window frames and the surrounding wall.
    • Check for stains on each wall * , this might indicate leaking guttering, overflow pipe or something else.
  • Garden walls:
    • Check as above for the house walls.
    • Check the coping stones (along the top) to see if they are loose.
  • Drains:
    • Check the manhole covers - are they cracked, rocking or damaged ? Is the frame for the manhole cover well bedded in to the surrounding surface?
    • Lift each manhole cover and check inside:
      • Is there water collected in the bottom ? Water should not collect in the gully at the bottom.
      • If possible, flush a toilet or tip a bucket of water down the first manhole - the water should run through the gully quite freely, it shouldn't back up in the manhole and gradually go down - this could indicate an obstruction in the pipe leading from the manhole.
      • Is there any debris in the bottom ? The rending around the inside of the manhole can sometimes come away.
      • Are there any tree roots in the manhole ? Even if there are none, you may still have root ingress along the pipe runs but this will need specialist drain inspection to identify.

Inside checks.

  • In the roof (choose an overcast day to do this, it can get uncomfortably hot under a roof with the sun blazing down on it):
    • Check the state of the under tile/slate felt - is it falling away in places ?.
    • Can you see daylight coming through the roof ? (Obviously you'll need to check this during the day, switching off any light internal to the roof will make it easier to see this).
    • Check for stains on the roof timbers * - this could indicate water ingress.
    • Are any of the rafters sagging ?
    • Check for any signs of woodworm * or wood rot in the roof timbers.
  • Staircase:
    • Check for loose treads and risers - if possible, get under the staircase to check that each wedge is in-place and tight.
    • Check the Banister (handrail) and balusters (the supports under the banister) - is any part loose or damaged ?

* Note that these checks may indicate old problems which have already been address, you could just be seeing old evidence.