When conducting your own survey of a period house, check the following for each room:
What is the size of the room? Look at the location of power points and light fittings.
Are there any cracks, sagging or staining? If you press any cracked or sagging area gently but firmly, does it give? Where is any staining? Is it at outside walls or adjacent to chimneys? Are there cracks at the join of the ceiling with the walls? If the ceiling is papered, look for any disguised cracks.
What is the condition of any plaster cornice or other moulding? Are areas missing or cracked?
Are there any cracks, bulges or staining? Tap gently and listen for rattles indicating plaster which has lost its key. Are there cracks in walls above doors? If the walls are papered, look for any disguised cracks.
Place the flat of your hand on the wall at the bottom, particularly on outside walls and in corners. Does the wall feel damp?
Try to assess whether the floor is level; sloping floors can indicate settlement, but in most houses this is not of concern.
What is the floor made from? Original boards, tiled or solid? Bounce up and down, particularly close to windows and exterior doors; does the floor give? This can indicate simply a loose board, or else damaged boards or joists.
If the floor is solid, is it original or modern concrete? Are there any cracks? What is the condition of tiles?
What type of floor covering is there?
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 or splits in the wood? If stripped, look for splits in panels.
If the door is glazed? Are there any panes loose in the lead cames or wooden frame? Is leaded glass sagging or cracked? Are the wire ties intact? Are there any broken joints in the lead cames?
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?
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?
If you can open the window, is it warped at all? Does it open smoothly?
What type of catches and locks are fitted?
If there are stairs, bounce on the steps? Are they firm? Is there any squeaking?
Are the bannister, newel posts and other woodwork original? Check that they are vertical.
Check in the understairs cupboard. Are there any musty smells? Look for signs of woodworm.
Tap on any plaster looking for loss of key.
Check the floor.
Is there a cast iron grate? What are the materials used for the surround and hearth? Are any tiles damaged? Look up the flue; is it blocked?
If the fireplace has been blocked in, is there an air vent?
In addition to the standard checks to be made for any room, examine the worktops, cupboards and drawers.
Check the operation of taps, and any appliances to remain.
In addition to the standard checks to be made for any room, examine the bath, basin and toilet for chips, cracks and scratches. Check the operation of taps.
Get access to the loft; look for underfelt under the slates or tiles. A sprayed coating may indicate past problems but it will prevent you checking the condition of timber. It will increase the cost of future re-roofing and prevent you reusing slates and tiles.
Feel the roof timbers, particularly where they meet chimneys. Are they dry? Are there streaks of sand or dirt, suggesting leaks during heavy rain?
Crawl out to the eaves, with a torch. Look for woodworm holes and tiny piles of sawdust; the latter would indicate an active infestation. Prod any damaged areas with a screwdriver; is the wood solid or crumbly? Check for ventilation here; there should be gaps at the eaves.