Be Your Own Surveyor, Retaining Walls, Trees and other outside issues.
These are often overlooked when viewing a property, but could be expensive to fix if there’s a problem.
Retaining walls aren’t usually an issue unless the property is on sloping ground. If it is, they need to be checked for plumb-level and mortar joints. Real stone walls can be particularly expensive to replace due to irregular shapes making it very time consuming.
Large trees can cause damage to drainage and foundations, particularly on older properties which may not have any foundations to speak of! They cause desiccation by sucking moisture out of the soil during the dry months causing it to sink slightly and the house with it. Clay soils are particularly susceptible. When the soil swells again during the winter the house doesn’t necessarily go back up, or not in an even way. This can cause significant subsidence cracking. The roots can also cause mechanical damage to drainage and foundations by pressing on them. Some trees are much higher water-demand than others, and Leylandii conifers are particularly bad. I would hesitate to buy an older house close to a large Leylandii for this reason.
Also check with the environment agency that the property isn’t within a floodplain. Seehttp://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/default.aspx
There’s a lot of forum talk at the moment on PropertyTribes about holiday lets, which may be a great strategy but coastal erosion and rising sea levelsneed consideration. I was walking along the esplanade of a Devon seaside town last summer and witnessed the surreal sight of a house-sized chunk of someone’s garden falling down the cliff in a huge pall of dust. Fortunately no one was hurt and the householders came out to peer over the edge and see where the rest of their garden had gone. Which must be pretty disconcerting. A house that is being approached by a hungry sea over a decreasing garden is surely a fast-depreciating asset.
These blogs are not intended to replace the services of a surveyor, engineer or other professional. They may however help save you the expense of a surveyor for a duff building that you won’t buy.