With the UK pushing ahead full force with housing developments up and down the country to meet the ever growing demand, it seems that architecture has become somewhat homogeneous. For many, such a landscape of properties serve only to blend into a pool of choices that are all depressingly the same, which leads them to search for older properties which boast character features from decades gone by. Trevor Smith from Essex Drain Engineering Services speaks out about the five of the main considerations to bear in mind when old is not always as beautiful inside and out.
- The roof and chimney: Structures vital to both your bank balance as well as your safety
The roof of any home serves as one of the most important structures (as well as one of the most expensive if there’s something amiss with it) and so ensuring that it stands in good stead is vital. Whilst some problems may be apparent to the untrained eye (with common issues including missing tiles, drooping structures and pooling water) there are many more problems that can only be spotted by a professional. For homes that additionally boast a real fire, checking the outer, as well as the inner state of the chimney is also essential.
- Electrics: Wiring that may date back to the war
Electrical systems that can be found within the UK’s older properties are far from following a set standard. In fact, it is estimated that anything up to 20,000 fires are started annually as a direct result of outdated or poorly installed wiring. Again, this is something that only professionals can assess in full, although if you can clearly see that sockets are of the two prong variety, re-wiring will quite obviously be a must.
- Drains and Sewages: Potentially storing up quite a mess
Drains and sewers can wreak untold havoc on your new home, ranging from inconvenient garden floods to all the more serious on-going issues that can even lead to subsidence. Problems within older homes very often tend to be caused by the older piping, which is made from clay, rather than plastic. Such pipes are then susceptible to disruption from tree roots and the then consequent blocking that can cause flooding.
- Plumbing: Perhaps an unexpected addition to the sounds of an older house
When purchasing an older home you may expect to hear more moans, creaks and groans than you would in a newer property. However one noise that you may not have bargained for may be that of the plumbing. Unexpected noises from your plumbing system are far from normal, and can point to serious issues. Other signs to take note of are taps that drip and sinks that either block up or drain slower than normal.
- Damp, Fungal Decay and Woodworm: Hidden problems that can become structural nightmares
Damp, fungal decay and woodworm: all serious threats to a property’s structure and each with their own challenges in spotting them.
Damp may account for the easiest to assess, as you may spot discolouration to walls (which can occur both inside and outside); however what complicates this is that previously damp areas that have been successfully treated may still appear to be problematic. In any instance to be completely sure the property is completely free from damp you’ll need a damp report (your surveyor will be able to provide further advice as to whether this is required or not).
In the cases of fungal decay, the same rules in relation to previously treated areas apply and wood that is now safe, may appear to still be problematic; again, professional advice should be sort. Woodworm however can fair slightly better as far as obvious issues go, as the tiny holes that they leave behind can be relatively easy to spot if you look closely enough.