Some people might look at a blank wall in a house and find it a little dull, some might think about whether a picture might look good just there. If you are a budding Banksy you may be reaching for a can of spray paint. For a surveyor carrying out a Building Survey there is a lot to learn by looking at the walls inside a house.
The first thing a surveyor will do with any wall is tap on it, something I find myself doing even when not at work. Whether a wall sounds hollow or not can tell you quite a bit. If it is an internal wall this can tell you whether the wall is likely to be structural or not. If it is an outside wall it helps to confirm how the building has been constructed. For the same reason a surveyor will usually measure the thickness of a wall, normally through a window or door.
The next thing I do is step back and look at the whole wall and ask myself some questions. Is it flat? Are there bulges? Is it straight? Are there any cracks? All these could suggest that there are movement issues and possible problems with the structure, although not always. Any evidence of potential issues should always be considered in connection to the condition of other elements, such as the other side of a wall, the floor and the ceiling. Have I seen any problems there that may be connected?
Moving on with the survey I look for any possible water damage, such as stains, flaking paint or blown plaster. Whether any of these are present or not a surveyor should always test a sold wall using a moisture meter. This should always be one with a scan function designed to test a little way into a wall, not just the old fashioned prongs. Not only do the prongs make little holes in the wall they are also calibrated for timber only and not much use on a masonry wall!
As I have mentioned in previous posts moisture meters are a guide only and not a fool-proof test for damp but they are certainly a good place to start. A good spread of readings is needed to fully understand what is going on within a wall and a good surveyor should always try to get to grips with the extent of any damp. Understanding the pattern of dampness can suggest certain problems or lead the surveyor to a more comprehensive diagnosis. Where ever possible I take readings at 1 m intervals across the entire wall, all the way from the floor to the ceiling if I can.
Once I have done all that I usually have a good idea what is going on within a wall and if there are any problems so I move on to the next one, and then the next one, gradually working my way round the entire property. This takes a bit of time but it is the best and probably only way of making sure I can give my clients as much detail as possible and making sure their survey helps them move forward with their purchase with confidence.
To book your Building Survey, including a good look at all the blank walls, please contact us.