Building Survey - Exterior

When conducting your own survey of a period house, check the following exterior elements for each elevation:

Roof

What materials are used? Clay or concrete tiles, or slate? Thatch? Are ridge tiles clay? What lead, zinc, copper or felt is used?

Look at the roof line; it is straight or sagging?

Are the tiles or slates evenly overlapped? Are any cracked, slipped or supported with hangers?

Is flashing cracked, or lifted?

In the case of a flat roof, are there any cracks or bubbles?

Wall

What materials are used? Brick or stone? Renders, stucco, pebble-dash or roughcast?

Look for cracks in the wall. Look above and below windows. Look at the junction of a bay and the main wall. Look at the corners where two elevations meet.

Examine the pointing. Is it soft or hard? If hard, what profile is it? Look at the edges of bricks; are these eroded? Is the surface of the bricks damaged?

If there is any render or stucco, can you find any cracks? Look for very fine ones. Are there any bulges? Tap the render with some hard wood e.g. a trowel handle. Does it rattle or sound hollow?

Is there any staining? Is it in corners, below gutters, or towards the bottom of the wall?

What is the condition of woodwork such as fascias and soffits. Does it look well maintained? Are there cracks or areas with peeling paint?

Look at the ground surface adjacent to the wall. Is it well below airbricks? If not, open a window and measure to the floor inside, add 15cm and measure the drop outside to the ground. Is this at least 30cm? Is the ground bare soil, concrete or another hard surface?

Where are the air bricks? Are they unblocked?

If there is a rendered plinth, tap this and listen for signs of a loss of key. Are there any cracks?

Chimney

For each chimney, check for a lean or twist. Are any bricks spalled? What is the state of the pointing and flashing? If you have a ladder, you can check these more thoroughly, and get up to inspect the flaunching.

What type of pot is present? Is the pot straight and undamaged? If capped, is there ventilation?

Door

For each door, is it well maintained? What is the condition of the paint? Is it flaking or cracked? Are there any signs of rot in the wood?

How well does the door fit in the frame? Look at the clearance all round. If you can open the door, is it warped?

What type of lock is fitted?

Window

For each window, is it well maintained? What is the condition of the paint? Is it flaking or cracked? Are there any signs of rot in the wood?

How well does the window fit in the wall? Look for any gaps. If you can open the window, is it warped at all? Does it open smoothly?

Are there any cracks in the lintel and cill? Is there a drip groove in the cill?

Porch

What materials are used? Brick or stone? Renders, stucco, pebble-dash or roughcast? Is the inside plastered, or tiled? What is the floor made from?

Are there quarry or glazed tiles? Look for cracks and chips. Tap them to check for any that are loose.

If the porch is outside the main house walls, look at where the porch joins. Is any flashing in good condition? What is the condition of the roof?

Is the doorstep cracked or damaged in any other way?

Drainage

What materials are used for guttering, hoppers and downpipes? Are gutters straight and even in slope? Are there adequate supports? If painted, what is the condition of the paint?

Ground Surfaces

What materials are used for the ground adjacent to the building? Do they slope away from the walls? Are they porous to allow ventilation?

Other

Check and document the condition and operation of any other features such as an exterior tap or boiler vent.