How To Identify Structural Defects In A Potential New Home

If you are taking out a mortgage, you are well protected against structural defects in a potential new home. The bank will not release any funds for the purchase until they have completed a professional survey. If you have come into a lump sum of your own that you wish to invest in property, you will also conduct surveys, but they cost money. With a little knowledge, you can identify homes that have obvious structural problems yourself, and remove them from your shortlist.

Even a complete novice can spot some of the warning signs that all is not well with the house. Its isn’t rocket science, just look for the clues. When you see a house that catches your eye in an estate agents in Dereham, prepare to cast a critical eye over it and don’t be blinded by its chocolate box beauty.

Here are a few things to look out for when you see the property.

The Roof

If the roof has failed, the rest of the property will suffer eventually. It is vital that the roof be in good repair, or that you know you must spend money on it. Take a pair of binoculars along with you and stand back from the house so that you can get a good view of it. Insect the roof carefully. Look for missing or loose tiles and pay particular attention to the lead flashing around the chimney. Sometimes, when it fails, you will find moss growing in the joint there. Hold a straight edge at arms length and compare it to the ridge of the roof. Does the roof appear to sag? Zoom in on the chimney stack and look at the mortar courses in the brickwork. The chimney takes the biggest bashing from the wind, rain, and frost, and will need some maintenance eventually.

Climb into the roof space and look for rot in the timbers. If there has been a leak, the wood may be infested with dry or wet rot. Dry rot can spread throughout the roof if it is left unchecked and the only way to fix it is to rip the affected beams out and replace them.


Walk around the property and look for cracks in the walls. It is not unusual for old properties to suffer from some subsidence. You will often spot cracks that follow the mortar courses, but cracks that go through the bricks may indicate a  serious problem. Stand back and view the walls with a straight edge, just as you did the roof.  If the wall bulges it will be obvious. A plumb line will not take up much room in your pocket and is a tool that will tell you if the walls are vertical. You will be surprised at how much some houses lean.

By doing these checks yourself, you can sort the wheat from the chaff and save money on a surveyor’s opinion. If you fall in love with a property that has obvious flaws, get an expert opinion because you can overcome most problems, it is all down to cost. I hope you have found this article informative; the information has served me well in the past.


Ben Salter

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