Latest News

Brick-built homes vs. timber-frames – the pros and cons!

Since the 1970s, timber-framed homes have become increasingly popular, with many leaning towards it as an option for their next home and forgoing the more common brick-built property. However, it’s difficult to know which house type is right for you, given that there are pros and cons to both structures. And it’s isn’t that simple to determine which kind you’re looking at, as even qualified surveyors need to examine closely to find out the actual construction method.


Brick buildings with cavity walls have been around since before the 1900s and are ever-present on our roads, especially in North Essex, where I have even seen cavity brick-built property dating from the late 1800s, and years ago owned one built in 1897. Some areas did not fully adopt cavity construction until the late 1950s, however. There are two layers of brick, or usually now an inner layer of block, technically called the “inner and outer leaf”, with a gap (the cavity) between them normally filled with insulation.

By contrast, timber-framed main inner units are factory made and erected on-site and then surrounded by a brick skin (or equivalent) to finish off the exterior. Insulation and a damp-resisting membrane is incorporated in the factory. They are typically faster to put up, saving costly working time, however they aren’t necessarily going to last the distance. The “planned life” is commonly around 50 years, though in practice they may last longer.

The pros of a brick-built building
Brick homes have been the backbone of the property industry for a long time and that means that our skilled tradesmen are experienced with putting up this kind of property. Although there can be delays when buying any new home under construction, there are a lot of knowledgeable professionals who can make buying and erecting a brick-built property easy.

It’s a great investment! Brick houses are meant to last at least 100 years – with the right maintenance and care. The durability of these properties is unmatched and as a result retain their value over time.

In the long run, brick-built houses can save you money on heating. Brick can retain heat for longer and essentially if your house is cool to begin with, it stays cooler for longer.

Brick homes are also generally low-maintenance. Bricks don’t rot and while drainage needs to be looked after, you can replace or repair loose bricks, as well easily clean them to keep your house looking in tip top condition.

The cons of a brick-built building
As we all know too well, brick-built homes are time-consuming to put up and this can lead to higher building costs. You need to plan carefully with your time and expect delays which can range from weeks to months (and if you’re unfortunate, years!)

Despite their long lifespan, bricks are built on mortar and this can have wear and tear due to wind and rain that eventually affects your home, although proper care can prolong its life. Having said that, it can be pricey to fix if you have to “re-point” your home – in other words, have the mortar joints renewed, a long and tedious process. This is where you have to carefully rake out and repack the mortar sitting between the individual bricks. Not an easy job! You’ll need a professional to do this, which is where it can get expensive.

While you can in theory easily extend your home when it’s brick-built, there are things to consider such as planning permission, matching the brickwork’s colour, and all the electrics and plumbing need to be connected to the main house which is often much harder to do compared to a timber-framed building.

The pros of a timber-framed building
Building a timber-framed home can be quick and in in some instances be erected within a few short weeks. Although this is dependent on the size of the building.

Once considered to be a poor insulator, timber wall frames are now considered one of the best performing materials and are required to greatly reduce the noise passed from room to room.

Similar to how it was previously believed that brick structures were more fire-safe, timber frames give almost the same level of fire protection when the correct fire safety measures are in place. This is due to the fact that brick homes frequently include interior room divider walls and flooring built of sturdy wood, much like a building with a timber frame.

Heating a timber home can be more economical than a brick one as they are designed to be considerably more airtight and therefore its thermal properties are enhanced, if completed fully to the specifications. This doesn’t take into consideration heating the building though, you will still need central heating or air conditioning, and possibly in higher-grade homes there may be a heat recovery system fitted.

The cons of a timber-framed building
The cons to buying a timber-framed home are few and far between in principle, however they are pretty large-scale issues and are important to know.

For example, as the frame is generally factory produced it can take a while to obtain the necessary timber. This is because the costs of timber have sky rocketed which is causing supply delays – if you are looking to buy one, definitely factor in extra time for delivery. Dare we say that a lot of construction timber comes from Russia and Scandinavia?

Timber-frames also have a varying lifespan – some say they can be incredibly durable; however, others can last as little as 30 years. Think of the timber framed period houses that might be up to 600 years old – there’s quite a few about. This will be dependent on the materials that are used and most are guaranteed by the manufacturer for a period of time.

If you’re considering an older timber-framed property, especially if built around 1920 – 1930s, it can be harder (although not impossible) to get a mortgage as it is of non-traditional construction. You will find it best to find an experienced broker to shop around for the best mortgage for you, including specialist providers. You will find that the ages of the property and materials will be considered, and a detailed survey completed to determine the quality of the build.

Whichever property type you opt for, make sure you do your research first and understand the full extent of the pros and cons – there are more but these are the best (and worst!) that you need to be aware of when making your first step.

Principal, Eyesurvey

Contact EYESURVEY Chartered Surveyors for all your professional property services and needs on 01206 545 139



What should I know about flat roofs?

If you have an extension on your house or own a garage, you might have a flat roof on your property, however you may or may not understand the complications that are part and parcel with certain types of flat roof.

What is a flat roof?
To create a flat roof a waterproof exterior layer is necessary – mandatory in fact! – to ensure that the building can withstand the full force of rain and hail.


This can be made using layers of mineralised felt impregnated with bitumen or EPDM rubber, among other materials. They will include multiple layers to ensure a water-tight seal.

Although the name would suggest a completely flat surface, a flat roof is not entirely flat and instead has a gradient of 2-4 degrees. This is done to ensure the proper drainage – you don’t want water collecting in one area, that could be disastrous in the long-term!

Why do people opt for a flat roof?
Flat roofs are often a design choice - you will find a lot of new homes boast flat roofs as well as extensions and newly built garages because visually they give a more modern aesthetic that complements contemporary homes.

Having said that, the main reason people opt for a flat roof is they are a cost-saver. Flat roofs are less expensive to build than a pitched roof, with upfront costs for the materials and labour costs being lower as flat roofs are easier to erect and require less work.

What are the downsides of a flat roof?
Despite their usefulness, flat roofs made from bitumen can actually have quite a short lifespan. This can be a result of sunlight and ineffective materials. Sunlight, for example, contains ultra-violet light – also known as UV light – hardens and dries materials, and in the case of flat roofs, can cause cracking and shrinkage leading to unwanted leaks.

Felt can also be easily torn and punctured either by human interference (people walking on the roof) or by Mother Nature (branches, stones, and damage from storms). The seams between layers are also a soft spot, as they can become weak or open over time, which leads to leaking.

They can also have issues with drainage despite the slight gradient that they are built with. Flat roofs are not as efficient as a pitched roof. Pitched roofs offer natural drainage from the steeper angle at which they are set, while a flat roof can still have rainwater gather on it, forming puddles. A badly-formed, uneven roof surface will not drain effectively either. Moss growth is also common and then slows the drainage. This water build-up can lead to water damage and leaks.

How long do flat roofs last?
Typically, flat roofs made using felt have shorter lifespans as a result of these issues, with leaking being very common. These types of roofs will usually last about 15 years, although in some exceptional circumstances they only last 5 years.

How to prevent issues
The best way to prevent issues is by regularly checking for signs of wear or damage as this will help avoid problems occurring and help to identify minor issues before they become larger. Minor leaks can lead to hidden rot so checking for leaks should be a priority.

Don’t forget to include the cost of maintenance in your calculations and future repairs when considering a property with a flat roof. Scaffolding or similar equipment will need to be factored in for repairs on roofs at high levels, in addition to the inspection and then repair costs – which can add up.

If you need to walk on your roof crawling boards are a must. This will help prevent rips or holes from shoes – stones stuck in the soles of your shoes are a big culprit here.

Modern roofs
Modern flat roofs made from EPDM rubber can have the durability to last for around 40 years – a lot of which is down to being supposedly resistant to UV light – however, with that comes a higher cost. Having said that, if you have a straightforward installation it can be easy and not as pricey in the long run.

Make sure that when you buy a property that has a flat roof, or when you are considering extending your current one, and if you require a flat roof, you understand the commitment of the different materials. You don’t want to be paying out down the line for a poor-quality flat roof that needs to be replaced in 5 years!

Principal, Eyesurvey

Contact EYESURVEY Chartered Surveyors for all your professional property services and needs on 01206 545 139.



What you need to know when turning your front garden into a drive

Parking can be a nightmare in some residential areas, with cars squeezing into the smallest of spaces. As a response, some homeowners without garages have taken the opportunity to replace their unused front garden with a parking area, providing them off-road parking directly outside their front door.

A great solution if you have a large front garden which you don’t need or want.


However, you can’t just pave over your front garden anymore. There are restrictions in place that you need to be aware of to make sure that you’re complying with the law. You don’t want to end up with a fine for £100s or £1,000s!

Most urban areas aren’t built for water heavy rainfall and, with the effects of Climate Change, the UK has experienced flooding in the past that has resulted in loss of life, property damage and major disruptions to people’s lives.

As a result, restrictions have been put in place to help reduce issues in the future. Essentially, water needs to be able to drain away safely and this is important when considering paving your front garden as this large an area can cause water drainage issues if not properly addressed.

What materials can you use to pave your garden?
In 2008 the government introduced changes to the General Permitted Development Order in regards to permitted developments of front gardens. The changes mean that if you want to pave over more than 5 square metres of front gardens you can do so if the surface is permeable.

Permeable surface includes gravel, concrete block paving, and porous asphalt, or a mainly green, vegetated area. Some people use wheel tracks or ribbon design driveways as well.

You would require planning permission if you wanted to utilise an impermeable substance, such as concrete. If the rainfall is routed to a grassy area or boundary to drain naturally, there are alternative choices. To ensure that you are abiding with the law, you should investigate this further.

What are the benefits – other than ease of parking?
One of the major attractions of having a paved driveway is that it can add value to your property. It has been suggested by property experts that it can increase your homes’ value by 10 per cent. A hefty sum if you’re looking at ways to increase the return on investment and saleability of your home.

Don’t forget you’ll need a dropped kerb too!
Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to regularly drive over a kerb to access your newly paved off-road parking area. You have to apply for a licence from your local Authority in order to get one. That formation will need to conform to certain requirements as well, including width, “splay” (the angles and tapers outward so as not to cause tripping risks on the pavements), and the method of “hardening” that crossing over the footway to accept the weight of vehicles.

The kerb must allow easy access onto the property via a drop kerb – if you don’t have one in this instance, you’re breaking the law and will be fined. You will be personally liable for any damage to the kerb or pavement, any injury to pedestrians that may occur as well as any damage caused to utility supply lines. So, it can be costly if you don’t get one.

In order to have a dropped kerb put in place you need to apply for a licence from your local highway authority or council. Other permissions may also be needed depending on the property and location as well.

You will need to have a specialist in place before your application as they may need to be consulted or provided measurements for the council to give you the go-ahead.

Be aware though, your application may be rejected, so do your research first to see if any of the standard reasons apply to your circumstances, such as being too close to a junction or bus stops.

Principal, Eyesurvey

Contact EYESURVEY Chartered Surveyors for all your professional property services and needs on 01206 545 139.




As a Colchester based Chartered Surveying Company, we pride ourselves on providing added value

We know that it can be daunting trying to juggle buying a new home in 2022, and this is equally true for both first-time buyers and second-steppers. Services seem to be moving online, removing the human interaction and making all things digital.

However, at Eyesurvey Essex we don’t believe that having an automated service where you speak to a computer and can’t pick up the phone to speak to someone is the best course of action.


We don’t, and will not, simply price any job like a “a box of cornflakes” – each case has an individual free fee surveying quotation, based on a conversation with the client.

If anything, we like to keep everything straightforward and use technology that will benefit our clients not cause more problems.

One of the best tools we have on our side is our Nikon cameras. It might sound simple, but we have provided tens of thousands of images to our clients collectively over the years, all of which have added value to their survey reports. Not to mention, these are likely to have been the make or break reason that a client has not moved forward with a purchase. Visualising concerns can often help with the decision-making process.

You’re probably wondering why we feel so strongly that images are one of our greatest assets during a survey, and there’s three simple reasons why…

1 – Provides clarity

In some cases, it can be difficult to explain in layman’s terms an issue with a property, especially if there is technical language involved or if it isn’t a commonly known problem. In this instance, we can take a photo to showcase the problem and then focus our attention on explaining why this is an issue.

For us, it’s all about working with the knowledge of our clients and not just our own knowledge. It’s our function to understand the problem, and then to present it to the clients in a straightforward way so they can understand.

2 – A good record of incidents

Having images of your property and the work that needs to be done is always a good thing to have to hand. It allows you to properly record your property which can be beneficial down the line.

It’s especially helpful to us and adds to our site notes when preparing the report.

However, it is also good should you wish to have work carried out to rectify issues, especially if the issue in question has worsened over time. You will be able to provide photo evidence from when you first knew of the problem and therefore provide a timeline from then to the present moment. In turn, you will be able to receive more accurate quotations and feedback from contractors on how much time it will take to rectify and the cost.

3 – Provides a dialogue

A visual representation provides a clearer overview than text alone, which also helps to open up dialogue between client and surveyor. Our survey annotations, while in-depth, can only go so far, while an image can help to bolster our notes and invite more questions. We are happy to discuss the report with each client.

Photographic images can also demonstrate points in a way that sometimes cannot be achieved through written communication.

To give our clients peace of mind, we use only high-quality Nikon cameras to ensure our photography gives detail and adds value to our work. We do not use mobile phone cameras, compacts or iPads as we believe they do not offer the same quality that a DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) with zoom lenses can. We carry two such cameras with us to each job.

We also know how important it can be for clients to have clear shots, especially in darker areas of the home, such as lofts. That is why we pride ourselves on going the extra mile, with a separately mounted flashgun to be able to identify points of interest that might otherwise be missed by less thorough surveyors. Our kit includes a longer telephoto lens for distant features, a circular polarising filter, and even a “Gorillapod” mini tripod!

We have an app that lets us almost instantly download pictures from the camera to our mobile phone, to be emailed whilst on-site if needed.

We can brighten dark corners in a picture with Photoshop later as well.

We like to think that while we are not on the level of a professional photographer, we can provide worthwhile photographs that give our clients a better understanding of their potential new home. Similarly, we only add photos that we believe will add value, and help a client understand a potential problem that Eyesurvey Chartered Surveyors has uncovered.

Principal, Eyesurvey

Contact EYESURVEY Chartered Surveyors for all your professional property services and needs on 01206 545 139.



We're still being cautious with COVID to protect our clients and ourselves

Since March 2020, I and many other Chartered Surveyors near me have taken precautions to ensure that we can offer a COVID-safe service. Following the advice from RICS, which closely monitors developments, and continuing to update the way we carry out our surveys has meant we have continued entering people’s homes in a safe manner and lessened the risk of transmission.


Even now, as we ‘live with COVID’ and the government guidelines have relaxed to allow the public to continue to live their lives in as normal a fashion as possible, we still implement safety precautions to restrict the potential spread of COVID-19.

We plan to do this until further notice for the benefit of our employees and our clients. It is our top priority to respect their wishes and to consider their health and safety during this time. In order to do this, there are several steps we’re taking which I will outline for you below to ensure you are aware of how we are working at this time and for the foreseeable future.

For when a property is occupied:

If a property is occupied, we do ask that owners/occupiers not be present if possible as this lessens health risks for both employees and occupiers.

Of course, we understand that might not be possible and, in that instance, we take the following measures.

Mask, gloves and disinfectant
We will continue to wear masks and surgical gloves during home visits, as well as use antibacterial/ antiviral sprays and wipes before, during and as we leave the premises. This is to avoid further infection risks during a survey.

Following each survey, we wipe down any tools, pen and mobile phone we use to limit spread between locations. Similarly, our vehicles are disinfected each time. Car handles, controls, the steering wheel and footwell mats are cleaned during this process.

Our employees shower and change clothes daily or after every job, as appropriate.

For when a property is vacant:

If a property is vacant and unoccupied, this does give less cause for concern, however we do still follow the same rules for masks, gloves and disinfecting in continuing to protect the well-being of our employees.

RICS guidelines

There are many RICS guidelines in place that we also adhere to for the peace of mind of clients and reduce risks associated with COVID-19 These include, but are not limited to:

Restricting contact with the people within the household if they are present during the inspection.

Standing side-by-side opposed to front on if necessary to stand within close proximity of people.

Where possible, go directly from home to work and then home, to limit contact before and after a survey.

Wash hands as often as possible with soap, use hand sanitiser or antiviral wet wipes. Wash hands for 20 seconds if possible, before and after going to a property.

Do not shake hands or use hands throughout a property unless wearing gloves. Use knuckles for light switches and buttons in the unlikely event that you do not have gloves.

Cough or sneeze into disposable towels or tissues and throw them away.

Immediately wash hands once disposable gloves have been removed, when possible.

Use common sense when interacting with someone and when entering their home and other buildings.

If you are in doubt about the services we provide and the safety measures we have in place, or would like further information, we are happy to discuss this with you prior to your survey or valuation.

Contact us via email or via the number provided below.

Principal, Eyesurvey

Contact EYESURVEY Chartered Surveyors for all your professional property services and needs on 01206 545 139.



Why it's so important to get your combi boiler inspected

If you’re buying a “new home”, many people will want to know about structural issues or damage – presuming this will be their biggest outlay either immediately or down the line. However, homeowners regularly overlook one of the most important areas of a home, the plumbing!

Updating plumbing has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many people opting for a combination boiler, also known as a combi.


Combis have become the ‘go to’ option due to their simple and space-saving design – they take hot water directly to your taps with no large, unsightly storage tank to be seen. However, that also means you no longer have an “airing cupboard”.

Using condensing technology, a combi boiler works when a sensor is triggered indicating you’ve requested water. The term “condensing technology” means the boiler recovers waste heat from its own exhaust gases, to save fuel. In turn, the heating unit burns fuel (oil, gas, electricity to run the system) to heat the water and continues to do so until the water is no longer needed.

With the ability to access hot water at the turn of a tap, combis gradually became a must-have in many recent homes since their introduction in the 1970s. Combined with their size which made it easy to have even in the smallest of properties, combis are regarded as the most cost-effective boiler, saving you money as you use hot water as and when, opposed to constantly heating a tankful to temperature, and then using more fuel to keep that hot.

While combi boilers can be a great option for some, they aren’t 100 per cent fool proof. They have an overly complex system, with lots of different devices working together to create the heating to radiators or hot water. As a result, they can be expensive. They can also take longer to fix should anything go wrong – as they have so many little parts, valves, printed circuit boards and even the pump is inside the boiler unit.

As combi boilers are an on-demand service, multiple outputs aren’t always easy to accommodate. If two or more people need access to hot water at one point, you will notice water pressure drop and if you have a large household this could become an issue. But a combi may struggle to provide a good flow of hot water to shower or bath taps in cold weather, as it has to bring almost freezing cold mains water up to the temperature you want.

Increasingly, properties also have not only a combi boiler but an additional Pressurised Water System. This means that you have a tank that can produce hot water without needing a second tank in the loft to feed water through using gravity.

With benefits such as making it easier to have a power shower and baths fill quicker, a Pressurised Water System can be great to have on hand to work in partnership with a combi boiler, balancing out any issues you may have from a combi. This includes low water pressure, mentioned above.

However, adding a Pressurised Water System can make your plumbing system more complex and due to the nature of the combi boiler, you shouldn't need an additional tank unless you have a particularly large household. When buying your next home, a surveyor conducting a RICS Homebuyer Survey will not check your boiler’s particulars as this needs to be conducted by a qualified “Gas-Safe” registered engineer. What a surveyor will do, is visually inspect the boiler and attendant fittings, then advise that it should be checked and that the potential new homeowners gain access to the most recent service information as they MUST be serviced every year by a professional.

If you are not sure if you have a combi with a Pressurised Water System attached, this will be easy to find out as it will be a white, red or blue, almost onion-shaped tank, attached to the boiler via the pipes, or next to the hot water cylinder. Your surveyor will take note of this addition to add to their survey.

It’s important to note that having a water tank attached does make the plumbing technically more complex than a standard boiler and more can go wrong with them. Annual servicing is even more important in this instance.

I personally highlight combi boilers with Pressurised Water Systems as a ‘Condition Rating 3’ in all my surveys. As standard, I will comment that they need annual servicing by a ‘competent person’, including testing of safety valves, recharging pressure vessels, cleaning, pressure reduction valves and providing a service certificate.

It would also then be beneficial to have an appropriately qualified person to inspect the boiler and the tank to report on its installation prior to purchase. This will help to prevent any nasty surprises when you move in.

If you’re unsure if you’ve taken the appropriate steps or any issues arise, speak to your solicitor, to request any paperwork about such work, before you sign or exchange contracts.

If the boiler hasn’t been serviced within the last 12 months, make sure a system test and service is undertaken prior to buying the property as this could be problematic for you, and expensive to put right. Even more so if you have a combi with a Pressurised Water System.

Principal, Eyesurvey

Contact EYESURVEY for all your professional property services and needs on 01206 545 139.



Why you should read your Homebuyer - or any other form of - Survey thoroughly 

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking a Home buyer's Survey is just for going through the motions of buying a home. While some think it’s just an added expense that they could do without, others know it’s important to making decisions about your future home.

The problem is though, that even some of those that know it’s important, still don’t fully read it, therefore putting themselves in positions that could have been avoided - and may be very serious.


The information supplied in the survey, which should be carried out by a RICS qualified surveyor like myself (FRICS, MRICS), can save you a fortune by identifying problems within a home based off of the current condition of the property. Surveyors are trained to identify potential issues through continuous training and hands-on experience, and our surveys can help make sure you know exactly what you’re buying – the good, the bad and the ugly!

The report created will identify risks and defects, as well as any structural problems such as movement, moisture damage and cracks, plus it can also offer various other additional forms of advice and a property valuation. This is all dependent on the level of survey you want, but even the more basic survey will highlight urgent issues helping you to make the right decision when it comes to moving forward with the purchase or not. As we have said many times before, beware - a valuation carried out for a bank or building society IS NOT A SURVEY.

Our articles from August and September going into details about cracks, when to address them and how to fix them, clearly detail the kind of issues that homeowners can face and why it is an integral part of the home moving process to have a survey. If you haven’t read those articles, I highly recommend that you do as it will help to put this situation into perspective.

A surveyor’s time and knowledge, as well as your money!!, go into crafting the reports we produce and they aren’t just for show. Given a survey is priced from £375 upwards for any format of RICS Report, and increasing depending on the report you need for your property, you may find that it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.

So, what happens when you get your report back?

Read it! Thoroughly!

Please don't just go through what you think are the "more important bits" - even the notes printed at the top and bottom of each page and in the side margins are just as important, so don't ignore them. The surveyor has written this report for you to use. If you decide not to act on the advice in this report, you do this at your own risk.

After we've conducted the initial inspection, we'll be able to complete a detailed report using our notes and images, as well as our experience. This might take many hours, but it is necessary to safeguard both you and your investment. We may indicate in certain reports that the home is overvalued due to damp difficulties, allowing you to try to bargain the price down to meet your budget to address the problem. We may recommend that a house be inspected further because the foundations are shifting, which would cost thousands of pounds to fix.

If you’re unsure about what the report means once you receive it, feel free to speak to your surveyor about it. Personally, I am happy to answer your questions and I will always make my recommendations clear to the buyer.

As well, when there are structural issues and really anything other than cosmetic changes that need to be addressed, it’s best to give the report to your solicitor who may be able to advise you on next steps - but if in doubt, ask your surveyor about this. This might be a more in-depth report – a Structural Engineer's report, or maybe a RICS Building Survey which is an additional expense – or it may be not to move forward with the purchase at all.

If in doubt, speak to the experts and get the appropriate Survey – if the property needs a whole new roof and a surveyor spotted it with the Homebuyer or a Building Survey, you’ve just saved £15,000 (or more!)

One thing I will mention, is that while we do endeavour to complete a thorough report, there will be times when that’s not possible. For example, we don’t have x-ray vision and we can’t see what is concealed by carpets, cupboards or storage. We are not permitted to move the existing occupiers’ possessions, nor can we remove fixtures, fittings and flooring.

We only have our eyes and our experience, we’re not Superman, or Superwoman!


As a Chartered Surveyor with over 50 years of property experience, I create reports that are accurate to the best of my knowledge, and following the advice it contains is in your own (the homebuyers) best interest.

Principal, Eyesurvey

Contact EYESURVEY Chartered Surveyors for all your professional property services and needs on 01206 545 139.



What’s it like to be a self-employed surveyor?


When starting any new career, you often wonder if you’d be better off working for yourself or getting a job at an already established company. So, I thought I’d break this down to help you get an understanding of what it means to be a self-employed surveyor, because while it works for me, it might not be a viable option for everyone.


There are pros and cons to both career paths, with the key tipping points being when it comes to work-life balance, job security, income and job satisfaction. 


If you've recently completed your studies and are new to surveying, you'll be eager to get started. If this is your first step into the field, finding permanent employment with a reputable organisation is usually your best bet for gaining expertise. Starting your own firm, on the other hand, will appeal to you if you have a business background, have previously operated a business or been an entrepreneur, and know how to build successful companies from the ground up.


While there is more job security with joining a long-standing business, not to mention less responsibility, it can often be difficult to have a work-life balance. Your time isn’t your own as an employee, you are likely to have targets to meet, and it can make it difficult to spend time with family, have time for yourself and your hobbies or see friends.


You are also limited to your employers’ rules and practices, which may not allow you to play to your strengths and provide a service which you think best reflects your abilities and work ethic. In turn, you cannot then give clients what they need to effectively move forward.


This isn’t necessarily saying that having an employer is bad, just that some companies have a singular approach that doesn’t fit everyone.


Having said that, you hit the ground running with a salary, which isn’t necessarily the case if you’re self-employed – as with any start-up – but that doesn’t mean that you should shy away from the opportunities available by going independent. You might be able to buy-into a running firm, or take over that is one well-established.


Being “self-employed” is not the only option, you could decide to operate the business as a Limited Company. You will need a good Accountant to guide you, in both cases.


What about taking on part-time staff to help you operate, say to do the books for you?


Organisations like the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) can provide you with support and many other services at low cost, and give you sources of new business contacts.

A lot of people may enter surveying thinking that it is a secure profession – people will always want to move home – but you will find that residential surveying and valuations can be seasonal, as there is a seasonal cycle to the property market. However, there are ways to combat that by looking into other areas of practice such as Commercial property work, expert witness, “Party Wall” work and boundary disputes among others. Clearly, you must have or gain additional expertise and knowledge to cover any of those areas – more studying. 

Taking on other jobs such as these means you will need to manage your time, but as a self-employed surveyor, you can put boundaries in place to ensure you keep a work-life balance. You can also set your hourly fee rates, and develop a respected brand off the back of your service and reputation.


There is the possibility of getting a lot of work, which is both a positive and a negative thing. Because you work alone, surveying can be extremely solitary, and if you find yourself drowning in paperwork and working long hours, you may find it difficult to stay motivated, which can have a bad influence on your business. This can lead to additional claims if your work isn't up to par, or if you're taking on more than you can handle, your lead time will lengthen and you'll lose business.


It’s best to keep in mind that while a lot of surveyors love what they do, being a competent and passionate surveyor doesn’t mean you’ll be a successful business owner. You need to be resilient for the weak times – there are always some, and must be a competent administrator to keep the business going. You must build, and maintain, all the contacts you can find – any acquaintance might be able to send you a client.


Fully-qualified Chartered Surveyors will always be in high demand, especially with the increase in high-tech, sustainable cities that are emerging throughout the world, the need for specialised knowledge, and the increase in properties that popping up everywhere in the UK.


According to the NHBC, over the next 20 years around 86,000 to 140,000 new homes will be needed each year to helping with the Build Back Better scheme put in place by the Government. Meaning in the coming years, positioning yourself as a self-employed business could be very lucrative, especially if you are in an area where there are plans for additional properties, such as Birmingham.


It’s necessary to weigh up the pros and cons against your expertise, and not just go off of motivations alone. Wanting to be in control of your work-life balance or wanting to be your own boss, and financially free, shouldn’t be the sole reasons for taking the leap into being self-employed.


Really, it boils down to if you have – or can develop – the business know-how then it can be a great opportunity and open a lot of doors.


Principal, Eyesurvey
Contact EYESURVEY Chartered Surveyors for all your professional property services and needs on 01206 545 139.



Help - I'm mystified about Automated Valuation Models?

For those of you who haven’t come across an Automated Valuation Model (AVM) before, it’s essentially the process of allowing a computer algorithm to value your home instead of an in-person valuer. No one will visit the property in this system, and definitely not even a robot!

To determine the value, the algorithm assesses the current market, the basics of a property such as number of bedrooms, and compare with other properties for sale in your area, creating an estimated value of a property. It also uses historical information about the property and neighbouring properties.


While AVMs have been around for some time – some of the more well-known companies like Hometrack started out in the early 2000s – it has been suggested that changes in the industry over the last five years created a ‘tipping point’, with the pandemic bringing this way of valuing properties to the forefront. And, while the RICS posed back in 2017 whether AVMs were going to become more prominent in the distant future, the future turned out to not be so distant after all.

During 2020, AVMs allowed properties to be valued remotely, meaning that valuers didn’t need to go into someone’s home, not only keeping them safe but the homeowners themselves. This provided some peace of mind that in-person valuations were unable to guarantee when social distancing was at its peak.

With the digitisation of data, improvements in technology and a demand for companies to have staff focus on higher-value work, AVMs have been a key element in moving valuations in line with other industries where services seem to be increasingly available online.

The service is typically used by lenders to assess lower-risk lending situations, when the value to be loaned isn’t high relative to purchase price, and for this example the lenders aren’t likely to be out of pocket. So, while the service isn’t necessarily large-scale at present by lenders, should you come to sell your home in the future, it could be used to value your property. This is because some lenders have improved on their AVMs during 2020, when they had the time do so due to the property market shutting down at the start of the pandemic.

Lenders such as Halifax, Barclays, the Leeds Building Society and HSBC are already using AVMs more regularly to value your property and decide whether the property will be suitable security for the loan you or your buyer have applied for. However, these valuations are run in the interest of the lender, and not you so it’s best to keep that in mind should your lender use an automated valuation model to estimate the value of the property you’re buying.

Another point – no one is actually inspecting the property for significant faults to the building.

Should I use an AVM to find out the value of my property?
If you are looking to find out the value of your home or the place you’re considering buying, then it might be worth using an online AVM which will give you a rough value without having to have someone visit your property or paying a fee at this stage.

Remember that will be the lender’s decision, and not yours, so you have no say in the matter. In addition, AVMs can be used by a person who is not a fully qualified Chartered Surveyor.

Websites such as uses an algorithm that claims to value your home within 15 per cent of real-time property values. While sites like Zoopla use an AVM built by Hometrack to help you value your home, although they do state that it should not be used in place of an estate agent valuations – nor as professional valuations for lending. If you know that your future home is being valued based on an AVM, it’s good to know the pros and cons to this, and ensure that you are being treated fairly by your lender.

In instances where an AVM is not suitable, potentially where the loan-to-value is high, then an in-person valuation will be carried out, however down the line these requirements could change, and like other industries, head fully online. It would be wise to ask if your lender is using that method.

Pros of having your home valued using an AVM

• They can be favoured by lenders for lower-risk lending situations.
• Can provide an analysis on observations to do with a property that might not be observed by a valuer.
• It saves money, time and resources for the lender and seller.
• Removes the human element therefore reducing risk of fraud – but see below.

Cons of having your home valued using an AVM

• The property is not inspected, meaning that it may not be in the average condition that it is valued against.
• The property is not seen by a qualified Chartered Surveyor, nor is any check for faults actually made.
• There is little consumer transparency, meaning it creates difficulties in informing consumers.
• The system relies on comparable data, meaning if there is low quantity of similar properties or the quality of data is poor, the valuation could be incorrect.
• How is the comparable data collected and any issues with that, including what were previous sales based upon?
• Technology is not immune to fraudulent activity.

Please note that Eyesurvey do not carry out any form of valuations for lenders – we work only for the actual client.

Principal, Eyesurvey
Contact EYESURVEY Chartered Surveyors for all your professional property services and needs on 01206 545 139.



How do I fix my cracks?

Last month we explained how cracks and movement in your property occur and when they start to become a worry, however knowing what steps need to be taken to fix the cracks is another issue entirely.

First, not all cracks need fixing.


A crack that's only a hairline width – up to 0.5mm wide – will cause more trouble and look worse than being left alone, unless it's an obvious damp entry path. If such a crack is in a cement rendered facing, the next opportunity to repaint with correct masonry paint is likely to be all that is needed.

If the cracks are 1mm or up to 3mm wide and in a brick joint, or where the mortar itself is loose and perished with age, then “re-pointing” is probably the best option – IF that work is correctly done. This is a simple process of raking out the old mortar joint, being careful not to damage bricks on either side, then moistening and applying fresh matching mortar neatly to a similar finish to the older parts. A skilful bricklayer/tradesman will be able to adjust the mix of sand, cement and other additives so the colour doesn’t stand out like the proverbial sore thumb. He’ll also neatly recreate the radius of the joint, or any special joint profile, with simple tools.

Repointing was once far easier done when softer lime-based mortar was used in soft, old bricks. It may surprise you to know that a correct lime-based mortar mix can “heal itself” in a fairly short time by chemical action, and fix its own minor cracks. Modern bricks are hard, being made in high-temperature gas-fired kilns and then laid in the wall using a hard cement-based mortar. Cement doesn’t repair itself, it just cracks and breaks. The nearby bricks may actually crack into pieces too, and the fracture naturally means that wall is now weaker.

It’s more difficult to take out cement mortar without causing damage. In addition, if a bad job of repointing is carried out, such as using hard cement mortar in soft old brickwork, then frost damage will result over time. The mortar should normally be softer than the surrounding bricks – if the mortar is harder than the bricks, then it will not yield or erode and the bricks crumble.

Do you recall being taught that water expands as it freezes? If a wet and soft brick freezes, and the expansion can’t be taken up by the mortar that is too hard for those bricks, their facings then break down, a process called “spalling”. Ugly damage and possibly substantial loss of the brick face is often the result. We have seen a honeycomb of cement mortar left around old, soft bricks that have eroded due to frost action, and the remaining brick is up to 40mm/1.5” recessed behind the original surface of the completely wrong, hard mortar that was used. Replacement of all the bricks is the only option.

Moving on, the crack concerned might be 4-8mm wide and the bricks becoming unstable. Presuming the brickwork isn’t showing signs of building movement, such as from subsidence, it could be possible to dismantle that section of wall and neatly refit, or “re-stitch” fresh bricks into the opening, to ensure the strength of the wall is not reduced. This is skilled work and few bricklayers have the skill to make a neat, satisfactory job.

Take a brick arch over a window or doorway, in a house built in the late 1800 to early 1900s. Say the bricks are slipping out of line, the arch is now weakened and support to the wall above it is lost. A good, well-formed arch is very strong, but a bad arch won’t hold up the wall above and so more serious movement is in prospect. How many bricklayers now know how to set out and re-fit bricks to form a good arch with suitable support provided as the mortar “cures”? Actually, relatively few have that expertise.

All this depends on the seriousness of the crack involved and you will need advice from a qualified surveyor, or possibly a structural engineer.

Now we have a significant crack in a critical location, or an expansion joint has not been included in this wall, which has cracks as a result. Expansion joints are intended to do what old soft lime-based mortar once did – take up minor movements. NHBC requirements say that expansion joints are needed, in part having regard to the wall length, and the orientation/exposure if the sun is a factor. Consider, in the obvious case of a long wall exposed to hot afternoon sun. A wall around 9 metres/29 ft long with no expansion joint can move enough to fracture quite badly. That is from bad design, but to overcome it, it is possible to insert or provide a flexible joint and tie the relative edges of the wall together with special components.

One such system is the “Helibar” – very strong stainless-steel ties are fitted into the mortar joints, crossing or bridging a crack or an expansion joint, usually by fixing with an epoxy adhesive similar to Araldite (for you do-it-yourselfers), but don’t try doing this at home! Leave it to the specialists, please – as an example, see:

It takes quite a lot to weaken a wall enough to collapse, but everything has its limits.

Finally, what about a major crack, maybe above 20mm wide: see our picture. That one is, obviously, a rebuild job and trying to repair is a lost cause!

Principal, Eyesurvey

Contact EYESURVEY Chartered Surveyors for all your professional property services and needs on 01206 545 139.



When do you need to address cracks and foundation problems?

Did you know that all buildings move? Not enough that you would necessarily notice, but enough that over time they can cause issues you might not have anticipated.

I bet you didn’t know that, most people don’t. However, it is something you need to be aware of as it can be costly if cracks being to appear in your walls or ceilings or if you start to see your doors dropping.


Subsidence can cause major problems for a property, but if caught early can be corrected. Movement of a building and its foundations due to the earth moving beneath, can cause damage to the main structure, brickwork, and windows. Our team at Eyesurvey can assess your property for potential subsidence, and discuss the options available to you.

Cracks are not only ugly, but they may also indicate serious property damage, creating safety concerns as well as integrity and stability issues if they impact critical building components. While fractures and other symptoms of deterioration should never be ignored, a structure must be significantly degraded before it is vulnerable to collapse.

In order to rectify these potentially devastating problems, you need to find the cause – what is creating the cracks in the first place? From there, a strategy can be formed in order to diagnose and then to fix the issues and ensure it’s not an ongoing problem for years to come.

Where do the cracks come from?

Unfortunately, there isn’t one reason for a crack or building movement meaning there isn’t an easy fix, there can be multiple reasons and no one-size-fits-all approach

Moisture – whether it’s damaged drains, leaks from faulty pipes, misplaced moisture is no one’s friend in the home. It can cause walls to expand, meaning cracks can form internally and entire walls will need to be replace. Moisture can allow wood decay to develop, also lead to mould which is a problem in itself if it gets out of control.K

Temperature – heat can have a major impact on buildings and can cause materials to contract and expand depending on how hot it is. The position of a wall relative to the hot sun will lead to significant expansion, and as the wall is effectively part of a box and can’t move away, it may buckle and crack. The NHBC actually require expansion joints to be installed during construction, to avoid such problems.

Foundation erosion – the foundations of a property can begin to erode over time and through issues with the materials used or interference, such as chemicals, can begin to suffer problems. In the past, using contaminated sand from a seafront beach without washing it led to serious deterioration, then failure, of the concrete into which it had been added.

Ground movement – the ground beneath the foundations can experience issues due to land slip, heave (see my article on this from last year in the news section), and shrinkage, among other things. Adding an extension can be a cause, since the differing building standards often produce defects after a shortish period; the deeper foundations of the extension compared to the house make that extension less able to move with the seasons.

Building fabric – a buildings fabric (aka. the structural materials that make up the shell) of the property, can be susceptible to material breakdowns including rust and rot. Excess damp is often involved.

Property age – If you have an older property, it is worth noting that they are generally built on shallower foundations, resulting in more movement than their modern counterparts. However, earlier building materials and methods are likely to compensate, and defects may not occur.

Did you know that bricks laid in lime-based mortar may crack along the joints from movement, but the lime will chemically adjust and take up the cracks, a form of “self-healing”?

Other issues – other problems occur with structural defects, suspended floors, and outside interference such as encroaching or penetrating tree roots. As a rule of thumb, the root spread of a tree averages two-thirds of its height, dependant on the species.

When are cracks a worry?

It’s important to note that some cracks – such as fine internal ones – aren’t going to cause issues with your property and can be rectified with some decoration and filler.

However, cracks that are over 1.5mm wide, or several centimetres long do require your attention; and anything that’s 2mm - 3mm or more in width could be extensive damage, affecting the windows, door frames and walls. If there are protruding areas or you notice a distortion around the door or window frames, these would need to be addressed quickly.

Any cracks over 4mm – 5mm and above in width, or developing quickly, would be classed as significant structural damage and would likely mean substantial repairs were necessary. You will not want to find your property to be unstable and that the work carried out to fix it would be more in-depth. These could also cause safety and integrity situations that would be of a high-priority to rectify.

What are the signs of building movement?

Cracks in the exterior of your property would be the first indication of a problem with the foundations. The foundation can shift, allowing gaps to appear due to the general building movement, and while it is normal for a foundation to sink very slightly over the space of the early few years in the life of a building, exterior cracks in the brick are normally a bad sign.

Cracks aren’t the only signs that you have problems with the structure of your property. If you’re living in your property for a long period of time and you start to notice your property sinking on one side, this is something that should be immediately looked into. If doors begin to jam or won’t close correctly, it can be costly to let this problem develop and can become a stability and safety issue.
Doors and windows sticking lately and you don’t think it’s the weather? Interior doors that have dropped and are dragging, and can no longer close properly, can be a sign of a foundation issue too. Similarly, if your windows have dropped and have gaps around them it’s best to get them checked out by a professional.

Examine your kitchen, is there anything in the back of the cabinets or on the floor that wasn’t there a few months ago, gaps for example to indicate movement? Or are the cabinets and wall units aligned and parallel to the wall? This might indicate that something is happening beneath your feet, possibly part of your home’s foundations. This is not something to overlook, since the condition may worsen, resulting in a larger repair cost.

One of the biggest areas to keep an eye on is your floor! Foundation issues from building movement can impact the foundation and in turn make the floor sag or bow. Not only conventional timber floors, but concrete/ solid floors may also develop problems such as in 1960 – 1970s properties. If your floors appear to be uneven this can impact the safety of children and any vulnerable relatives, so be aware of this and see the issue gets fixed.

Now for an example of how cracks that are serious don’t just occur in your house, but may then begin to affect it. Some time ago, we were asked to advise on a boundary wall near to some flats all on a fairly steep slope. Cracks over an inch/25mm wide and several feet/metres long had developed within a few months, and the wall looked near collapse. Worryingly the block of flats was less than 10 feet/3 metres from the worst cracks.


After a bit of research following the inspection itself, we learned the neighbouring house owner had decided to level out his sloping garden. He had the the bank sloping upwards towards the flats excavated, so the small part of the bank remaining was even steeper, and was smaller, and weaker.

Unfortunately, that meant that the former bank that had been giving support to the boundary wall was no longer there, and the foundations of the flats adjoining, so the support had gone. The wall then cracked quickly. If we hadn’t found out and reported the reasons, the block of flats might have started to crack and move as well. All was put right and rectified in time.

Remember, it’s always cheaper to pay to have a professional surveyor say there’s nothing seriously wrong, than to let the hairline crack become a nightmare.

Principal, Eyesurvey

Contact EYESURVEY Chartered Surveyors for all your professional property services and needs on 01206 545 139.



Can there be an amateur surveyor?

No doubt you know that in every industry you will come across amateurs and cowboys who create more problems than they solve, and surveying is no different. Without a reputable and experienced surveyor, you could find yourself buying a property that costs more down the line than you could have imagined – and can probably afford!

There’s that old saying by well-known American oil well firefighter, Red Adair: ‘If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.’


Another saying is “if it is too good to be true, then it probably is”. In other words, someone offering you a cheap survey, will not do a comprehensive job and complete report. This can lead to all sorts of problems later on down the line, if you purchase a property and find something badly wrong that wasn’t picked up. This could cost you thousands for the sake of saving a few hundred on a survey.

Just to be clear – a Chartered Surveyor MUST be fully qualified, and entitled to use the letters MRICS or FRICS after their name by virtue of the Royal Charter. See more later.

An “AssocRICS” is a surveyor who has qualified to work only in certain limited areas of property practice, and IS NOT a Chartered Surveyor, although he or she will still be a Member of the RICS – an important distinction.

How can you tell if you’ve hired a professional or just someone claiming to be? Well, there are few things to consider when hiring a Chartered Surveyor…

If they’re cheap they may be too good to be true
While we all love a deal, there are some services you shouldn’t scrimp on, and a survey on your next property is one of them, as no one wants to be living in a home that’s going to cost them in the long run?

To become a charted surveyor, it takes years of learning, education and exams, but this is only the start as many of us get valuable experience over the years. If you find a charted surveyor that is particularly cheap to hire, compared to other qualified charted surveyors in your local area, you should probably not instruct them. The perfect combination for a charted surveyor is to be qualified, have years of experience and also a local knowledge is pretty handy to.

Given that you could be living in your home for years to come, it’s not worth the risk, and with the average survey starting from around £375 - £450 onwards, it’s not the priciest part of moving in the grand scheme of things. So, isn’t it worth paying that little bit extra to guarantee you’re buying a safe, weathertight home and not a property that could “fall down” or fail in important areas if we have a few days of bad wind and rain?

How to know if someone is worth their salt
When choosing a Chartered Surveyor there are few ways to know if they are experienced and going to provide you with the level of service you need.

Are they accredited with a professional body? While some do choose not to be RICS accredited as it is not mandatory, the majority are, and you know there is a certain standard that an RICS Chartered Surveyor will provide. You can visit and use the ‘Find a member’ section to find out if your surveyor is RICS accredited. If they are not, they cannot call themselves “Chartered Surveyors”.

Accredited surveyors will use FRICS or MRICS after their name to indicate they are qualified.

Just for information – I also have the right to use FISVA after my FRICS, see the end of this article. That indicates I am a Fellow of the Independent Surveyors & Valuers Association, each member of which is an independent and fully qualified Chartered Surveyor. See –

There are alternatives such SAVA School of Surveying and Residential Property Surveyors Association as well. Please notice that those who are only members of these organisations alone cannot call themselves or advertise their services as Chartered Surveyors, but may still call themselves “Surveyors” – the missing word “Chartered” is the clue.

Do they have legitimate reviews? Just like any other service, the best way to know if you are making the right choice with your surveyor is through reviews of their service. Many people like to leave bad reviews, however recently there has been an increase in good reviews following the pandemic in support of local businesses.

Google has been promoting reviews via Google My Business and you will find reviews via Facebook and Trustpilot, as well as on a company’s own website. Although, keep an eye out for obvious fake reviews including too similar reviews, clear over exaggerations and very generic names or information – you don’t want to be misled and your own due diligence is needed here.

Beware of surveyors new to the area
While it may be a simple statement, making sure your surveyor knows the area you’re moving to is important. If you live in a region well-known for certain property types, you will need someone who is familiar with those properties and the issues they may be plagued with. RICS generally expect the Chartered Surveyor to operate within a limited radius of their base, normally not over 50 miles, which is still a lot of ground to cover.

It isn’t always a deal-breaker, but local knowledge provides a lot of backbone to surveys in some areas and it is worth having someone familiar with it than not. If a surveyor says they are new here themselves, it might be worth looking elsewhere.

Things to consider if you realise you have hired an amateur
It’s clear that not all amateurs are easy to spot, and in my previous articles I’ve explained that to be a great Chartered Surveyor the essential tools are your mind and a toolkit of core items – you don’t need everything and the kitchen sink in this industry!

With that said you want to ensure that your surveyor isn’t throwing around lots of technical jargon that might confuse you. Just because they sound knowledgeable doesn’t mean they are. Ask them to explain things to you simply so you can understand it better. This will put them on the spot and you see they aren’t as experienced as they portray themselves to be.

My mantra is – “If it is something technical, and you – the Chartered Surveyor - understand it, you must be able to explain it clearly and in simple English to someone who has little or no technical knowledge”. I avoid jargon and technical terms in reports as far as possible.

It’s normal to ask for payment before a survey is sent to you, however you should have your report within a few working days after the inspection has been carried out (unless the surveyor has indicated otherwise). Keep an eye on how long it takes to arrive and try and get electronic versions, as well as hard copies for your own assurances – if possible.

Do appreciate that many Chartered Surveyors are having to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so they may not be able to provide a printed version for now.

If you think that your surveyor has misled you or they’ve missed something, be sure to speak to them directly as soon as possible, however if your problem is not resolved, then remember that the RICS require all Chartered Surveyors to have a formal Complaints Handling Procedure.

You should not contact RICS – they cannot help you take matters further, until you have followed all stages of the Chartered Surveyor’s own Complaints Procedure.

Happy house-hunting!

Principal, Eyesurvey


Contact EYESURVEY Chartered Surveyors for all your professional property services and needs on 01206 545 139.



The Essential Tool is the Mind

When a surveyor takes on and carries out a job for a client, he isn’t merely looking at a building.

Not only is he analysing and assessing the condition, he will be considering the legal or financial frameworks within which any property is used and can be occupied, safety factors, and often financial matters. A surveyor is trained in a vast range of legal areas, Building Regulations, UK legislation and “Common Law”, since even though he or she isn’t a solicitor, we must know what we work within and how it is regulated or controlled.


“Value” is apparently obvious, but is that the price to be paid to buy a home, a rental value, a sum for covering buildings insurance reinstatement after destruction by fire?

If a client needs a valuation for Probate & Inheritance Tax to be calculated, the surveyor needs to look at the value of the “legal interest” to be included in the “Estate” of the deceased owner under a Will, ignoring contents like furnishings and personal effects.

Surveyors work on detailed reports for residential, commercial, public and private sectors, and Compulsory Purchase, with residential properties such as houses, bungalows, flats being the ‘bread and butter’ of most surveyors. Commercial properties include shops, offices, industrial workshops, warehouses, storage and contractor’s yards, while public conveniences, schools, and libraries come under public sectors.

Compulsory Purchase, includes taking land to build the HS2, for example. The main laws dealing with finding and agreeing the value to be paid to the former owner are the Compulsory Purchase Act 1965, and the Land Compensation Act 1973 “as amended” by later changes in legislation.

These reports can cover a range of things, from purchase, sale or leasing of a property, especially periodic rent reviews on commercial units and setting renewal terms for an expiring lease, to valuing and surveying properties, which takes in the many facets of a property. It can also include the management of blocks of flats or individual properties let to tenants.

The certifications you obtain, and the skill set you develop along the way go hand in hand with your ability to recognise the differences between these areas and what each entails. To be a surveyor, you need a certain level of technical knowledge and skill - you can't just wake up one day and decide to be one; you need training and a thorough understanding of the ins and outs of properties.

A degree in surveying combined with technical knowledge is now necessary to qualify as a Chartered Surveyor, however, knowledge in the following areas is not just helpful but vital:

Economics – a recession may not affect property for some many months later than other parts of the county’s financial operation, and it takes longer to react and to recover.
Mathematics – Valuation is not just guesswork or judgement, it can be using very specialised and complex mathematical conventions only relevant to property work. How is a rental income turned into a cash amount to sell as an investment?
Building construction – From the pyramids and ancient temples of Greece or Rome to stately homes and humble terraced houses in the UK, they all have their own special constructional methods to consider. No, we at Eyesurvey don’t inspect the Colosseum or the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

So, what do you need to have to become a successful surveyor other than the necessary qualifications?

A logical and practical mind
To navigate each inspection in a timely manner and to ensure nothing is overlooked or missed. This isn’t as obvious as you may think. This is a routine the surveyor evolves individually over years of experience. When a client wants to meet us on the site during an inspection, we’ll usually say we must ask them to arrive when we finish, and not while we work. If the routine is broken, something serious might not be noted down, bad news for both client and surveyor!

Good oral and written communications
The ability to complete reports in clear English, and liaise with clients.

Ability to build rapport
This helps for returning clients in the future and word of mouth. It also is good to be able to build rapport with other professionals such as other surveyors, architects, structural engineers etc. as we often have to negotiate terms with another surveyor, when acting either for a Landlord or the tenant in rent review cases, more often in a Commercial setting.

Report writing skills
Separate from written communication skills, report writing in itself is difficult as you have to understand how to present your inspection in a logical way for all parties involved. We may understand technicalities, but the client normally doesn’t – we need to report and explain to them in “People English”, with good clear grammar and correct spelling!

Identify problems and solutions
This is a natural talent that develops over time and with experience. A client often asks about arranging a “Survey” but actually want their property valued. “Help to Buy” is a perfect example of a specialist valuation job. To most of the public, everything a surveyor does is “a survey” – but it isn’t.

We might be asked how to attend to a particular building fault, but we may not usually give the costs involved – you’ll have to get prices quoted by a builder or other tradesman.

Confidence in your own judgement
There may be some areas you are challenged on – an ideal example is appearing in Court as Expert Witness, on a boundary dispute, or a case of a claim for incorrect valuation, especially for mortgage lenders. “The evidence I shall give….”

Ability to work to deadlines and have good time management and timekeeping
We need to earn a crust, but have to be flexible for our client’s needs and work accordingly. For example, our clients have wanted their work done in time to get in the “Stamp Duty Holiday” ending this month (June 2021). Some jobs can’t be set at a fixed price, so we may work out charges on an “Hourly rate” for the time expended.

Specialist knowledge
There are some specialists’ areas and knowledge bases, such as surveying Town Halls and understanding business rates, that also can come into play as well, should you go down that route. Being able to understand and assess economic viability and environmental impact is also a part of property management and is often essential in assessing a new development.

Continued personal development after initial qualifications
Often called CPD or “Lifelong learning”. That is “mandatory” – compulsory – for a Chartered Surveyor, who must carry out a set minimum number of such hour’s study or seminars per year, every year, and must record those hours annually with the RICS.

Wanting to (and needing to) consistently evolve with technology and your understanding of the environment you work in. You can’t just sit back and think your initial studies, training, and qualification will see you through your career, although that might have taken around seven to 10 years in all!

Just like a computer, the human brain can retain huge amounts of information. You may be surprised when you’re moving house again, that if you call a surveyor after many years, they will remember your present property!

Not just what it looked like or where it is, but actual technical details and images of faults in the mind.

Les Long calls it a “Filing cabinet in the head”.

So, there is an explanation, why the essential tool is the surveyor’s mind. He’s probably been doing all those things listed above instinctively and due to years of experience, when he does your work.

Is that worth paying a “good fee” to him to work for you?

Principal, Eyesurvey

Contact EYESURVEY Chartered Surveyors for all your professional property services and needs on 01206 545 139.



What’s in my surveyor’s tool bag?

In the 30 years I have been working for myself, I have seen a myriad of specialist tools and gadgets become available to surveyors, and digital versions of traditional equipment become the norm for many in the field. However, after years of honing my craft, I have also tailored my tool bag to the job at hand, and my simple kit allows me to get the job done efficiently, with no fuss.

I’m a firm believer that you don’t need everything plus the kitchen sink to survey a property properly, and as such my tool bag consists of the basics, plus a few specialist items. Take a look inside my bag and you’ll understand that simple, reliable equipment makes all the difference.


A high-quality digital camera, with zoom lens and a separate flashgun allows me to visually document what I find at a property and helps me in writing my report as I can re-examine areas of interest. These images can also be used as a reference should there be any queries with my report.

Moisture detector
Moisture is one of the biggest issues that a property can have, so I need to be able to identify areas of mould and water damage within a property, as that is not always possible just through sight alone. I always bring with me a reliable moisture meter to help me identify damage caused by moisture build-up in woodwork close to a wall, as well as areas of moisture that could become a problem down the line for future homeowners.

Measuring equipment
In order to accurately assess your home, simple equipment offers the assurance that floors are level, and doorframes and windowsills are straight. For this I use a spirit level, which also allows me to effectively check dropped windows which can happen with heavy window surrounds or heavy glass, and of course – building movement. I could use this to check the verticality of walls, foundations and columns: effective for examining a properties structure.

Another easy trick to check if a floor is level is using a marble, or a ball bearing – it rolls to the low point – and almost no costs!

A laser measure is great for internal measuring, fast, and lets you get in corners you can’t reach due to furniture. But a good laser will also calculate heights of a wall, and internal floor areas, and quality products will cost well above £150 – 200.

A 30 metre/100-foot surveyors’ tape – essential kit. You will find that simple, cheap item is better than a laser for external work, land and fences, or in bright light when the laser beam vanishes!

Wire probe
A simple length of stiff wire can be used to check the depth of a crack in a wall. A wire coat hanger can be cut to length and is ideal, virtually no cost!

A mirror can allow the surveyor to ‘see round corners’ to areas like the inaccessible back of a chimney. The camera can also be used in much the same way, and to record any faults.

There are always times when I will need to access high-level features and obviously including roof spaces, but might include internal areas such as tall built-in cupboards, high up pipes. We go in loft spaces where safe to access; we can reach external parts such as flat roofs and guttering.

Please note – never walk on a flat roof without using crawling boards. Safe access for future repairs will require scaffold or similar equipment.

A lightweight portable ladder that is easy to store in the car is a must-have in my line of work to allow me to thoroughly check a property to the full extent of the survey requested. It will be 3 metres/10 foot in length, as above that will not normally be safe, especially if working alone.

A simple yet necessary item to always have with me is a strong rechargeable torch. There are many small or dark areas in a home that I will need to inspect, such as lofts and chimneys, and a powerful torch is essential – I carry two! - for checking these areas. Although a straightforward choice, a torch has come in handy on many occasions when looking under floorboards and in airing cupboards.

A simple but necessary addition to my tool bag is a calculator. A trusty calculator helps me work out floor areas from measurements taken during my inspection and allows me to provide advice on the amount for which the property should be covered for Buildings Insurance.

The humble pencil/pen
While technological advances have helped develop some of the items I carry with me daily, I still carry with me a clipboard with paper, pens and pencils for all my notes and measurements. Yes, some surveyors use a digital voice recorder or a tablet computer like an iPad – fine, if that’s their choice – but my old methods don’t run out of battery. I digitally record the report later for typing.

Sometimes, the simple things can make all the difference and we don’t need flashy items to get the job done, just good old-fashioned equipment and a pencil.

Lifting equipment
Part of my job requires me to look under floorboards (if not fixed down – none of our work allows us to cause damage) and drain covers, which means I need to carry with me levers – simple steel tyre levers are fine – and both Pozidriv/cross-head and flat-head screwdrivers, or several.

Never a chisel – too dangerous, and we never cut into or open-up any parts of a building.

This kit allows me to easily access hard to reach places without causing damage.

Special protective clothing
The last of many things I need when I carry out my work, and although not in my tool bag per se, is still something that I need to have with on every inspection I undertake, is protective clothing and similar items.

These items can take many forms; however, I will wear a high visibility jacket when appropriate. I use sanitising alcohol gel or spray, anti-bacterial wipes, a mask and surgical gloves whenever I undertake a survey during COVID-19; maybe goggles, hard hat and steel toe cap safety boots. I also carry shoe covers, for those immaculate homes we sometimes visit!

A towel to dry hands and hair after a wet inspection, and perhaps soap or liquid handwash.

A strong canvas bag for carrying the whole lot of tools, and a specialised padded bag for all the camera kit.

I prefer to keep the items in my tool bag simple to focus on your inspection. A thorough inspection requires time, and I’m not only able to carry out the standard visual inspections of ceilings, bathrooms, walls, outdoor buildings, windows and doors, but also visual-only inspections of the heating, electric, water and drain chambers among other parts, seamlessly with my little tool bag.

Contact EYESURVEY Chartered Surveyors for all your professional property services and needs on 01206 545 139.



How is your commercial rent review carried out?

It is a question many commercial landlords and tenants should be exploring and must appreciate, when a rent review arises during the existing lease, or when a new lease must be agreed between both parties.

A great way to explain this is to speak about two particular cases I am working on currently involving retail premises - one is a review on an existing lease, the other is a renewal. This provides an obvious visualisation of the process. The process comes with intricacies of detail and shows why it is important to commission a Chartered Surveyor to carry out this work.


The reason why I mention my own professional carrying out of this important task is poignant. Solicitors are very often asked to take on the role of acting for a landlord, or for a tenant in this situation. In most cases, grasping the mathematics and methods of measuring used by professional surveyors / valuers baffles the most diligent of legal representatives. That convention is part of our training, is not used by any other profession, and without trying to sound rude, Solicitors who attempt this should probably stick to conveyancing. I know I certainly wouldn’t attempt to carry out the complexities of conveyancing as a professional Chartered Surveyor. Indeed, many diligent solicitors who understand this, tend to recommend Eyesurvey to their clients.

So how does it work?

In many ways the process is similar on each project. Floor areas must first be measured and calculated. This should be conducted according to a standard called the RICS Code of Measuring Practice used by every RICS Registered Surveyor in the UK. Once measurements are taken, the shop areas are adjusted by a convention known as ‘Zoning’. The procedure is necessary as in most shops for example, the customers use only the front section of the establishment and rarely venture into the rear storage and staff areas. This means that those front public areas are more valuable, with the retail parts further back and any non-public areas being less valuable as you go deeper into the premises. Whilst carrying out this part of the survey, certain allowances are made and deducted for obstructions and structural inconveniences, rendering the floor shape irregular.

Measuring and calculating the zones

The zoning procedure is relatively straight-forward. Zone A is the first 6 metres/20 feet from the front of the building and is taken at THE ACTUAL AREA. The next 6m/ 20 feet is ZONE B, but HALF that area is allowed. The next 6m/ 20 feet is Zone C, or indeed, part of that if smaller, but is taken as a QUARTER of its actual area. Zone D is the next 6m/20 ft of depth (if any) – that is allowed at ONE-EIGHTH of actual area, and so on for any “Remainders” – as ONE SIXTEENTH.

The overall process is aptly named “halving-back’ for very obvious reasons. Added together, the adjusted section areas give a total area “In terms of Zone A” or “ITZA”.

It sounds easy, doesn’t it?

As you can imagine, the process can be quite a complex one, and provides every reason and need to call in a professional Chartered Surveyor to take control of this situation. They are qualified and experienced to provide an accurate survey, which in real terms shouldn’t be disputed…..

The final agreement shouldn’t be too difficult…………!

In most cases, each side in the negotiations of a rent review will employ a professional. Independent Chartered Surveyor. Each will act for their party and both follow the exact same process. There is even a method for both to agree areas even if they come up with slightly different measurements and findings.

Yes, differences do occur, but rarely lead to anything other than an agreement at the end of the process. If they agree on floor areas (which doesn’t always happen), they collectively look at the measurements, or may meet and make joint measurements together, to agree the areas.

The next, and crucial stage is gathering rental evidence from other rental transactions – “the Comparables” - to use as a basis for setting the new rental figure. Each surveyor will explore other rental transactions and use this as a basis to negotiate a final figure and rental agreement. You might think that’s also simple – “I couldn’t possibly comment……..”

See, I told you it was easy!

My advice for anyone who is negotiating a lease renewal or a rent review, and on both sides of the equation is to employ a Chartered Surveyor to act on your behalf.

Principal, Eyesurvey


Contact EYESURVEY Chartered Surveyors for all your professional property services and needs on 01206 545 139.



A snapshot in time: Access issues, faults and property problems

If you’ve accepted an offer on a property then the next stage in the sales process is to establish which survey you need. The level of survey you decide on will depend on the age, value and state of the property, along with how detailed you want the Surveyor to be in preparing the report. RICS Condition Reports, Homebuyer Reports and Building Surveys are all designed to ensure every aspect of the property is looked over to check for faults that could raise their heads further down the line after the sale is complete, but the level of detail given is very different.


You never know, the smallest issues could become your biggest problem! So, what happens when problems are flagged, access becomes an issue or there are concerns further down the line?

Nothing is forever

What we mean by this, is that we as Chartered Surveyors produce surveys that are a snapshot of what the property comprises and its existing condition, at the time of inspection. It is considered that unless there is something hidden or inaccessible so it’s not possible to detect any such issues, the report is as thorough as practical and fair representation of the property. These points can present - or conceal - themselves in a number of ways including stacked-up moving boxes preventing sufficient access, or fitted carpets and furniture, so it’s not always practical to find a bad floor or other defects.

That’s why, with the best will in the world, it has to be understood that a report may not be ‘full’, no matter how thorough. Make sure you have read, AND UNDERSTOOD, the ‘Description of Service’ or ‘Terms of Business’ sent by the Surveyor.

The importance of communication

A thorough and fair inspection in part relies upon the Vendor and Estate Agent ensuring the property is prepared for inspection. It is not unheard of for areas where defects may exist to be inaccessible or concealed, which can in turn slow down and even cause a sale to fall through.

Whilst in the middle of an initial viewing, if you spot an area that could cause access issues or an area of concern, it is always worth pointing this out to your Estate Agent and Surveyor. A surveyor would often engage with the vendor beforehand to make sure they are aware of the need to allow as much access as possible for examination during the survey.

This can include requests such as supplying keys for windows and doors; moving large furniture away from walls; clearing areas with common problems; opening hatches; and ensuring there is good access to the fuse box and boiler – but these are not always practical. If the home isn’t big enough, items may not be able to be moved to any extent.


When issues arise

Your Surveyor needs to work safely first and foremost, especially taking health measures due to the pandemic into consideration. As such, forcing drain covers open, moving heavy furniture and balancing on joists including in lofts may not be possible! While certainly not exhaustive and likely to vary from property to property, these are some of the common issues that can prevent sufficient access for inspection:

• Drain covers that are stuck or unable to be opened.
• Fitted floor coverings such as carpets and laminate.
• Locked windows or doors including those with missing keys.
• Particularly large or heavy items of furniture not moved away from walls.
• Loft-hatches that are fixed closed or locked, sometimes seen in tenanted and student properties.
• Lack of safe access to a roof space or where stored items and insulation restricts the view.
• Inability to access garages due to contents and if built close to fences.
• Be aware that garden sheds, and non-permanent outbuildings are usually not covered in any detail.

Your Surveyor will provide you with an unbiased report based on the facts. Remember, it’s in everyone’s interest that sales progress smoothly, so, if your Surveyor informs you that they cannot access a particular area or element during their inspection, this is an opportunity for you to make the necessary arrangements with your Vendor and for the Surveyor to visit the property again. If not, you continue at your own risk. There will normally be some charge for Surveyor’s additional visits.

A stitch in time saves nine

If you don’t service your car and change the oil and tyres when due, something will go wrong! It’s the same with properties.

It is assumed in every case that the new owner will carry out proper and regular maintenance on the property, and not neglect it, then moan that “the Surveyor didn’t tell me!”. If you don’t paint external woodwork and windows, then rot will set in and high repair costs result. Likewise, if leaky gutters and dampness follows causing related problems such as wood rot, it’s not the Surveyor that’s at fault, but the owner!

Take a look at our seasonal property maintenance checklists, to ensure you stay on top of routine jobs.

For more advice on buying and selling properties including our survey services, news, tips and what our clients say; contact the Eyesurvey team for free initial advice on 01206 545 139.



What is a damp proof course?

There is a common misunderstanding among many clients about Damp Proof Courses (DPCs) in house walls and what this actually means. Many people wrongly call them ‘damp courses’, possibly thinking it’s a layer of a building that is damp - it isn't. It’s a level provided in a lower wall or a floor where a water-impervious damp proof material (a strip or membrane -DPM) is included. 


Slate strips, bitumen such as tar or asphalt, and later on paper impregnated with bitumen, later still plastic strips are used to prevent dampness from rising or being absorbed upwards from the earth below the building.

DPCs are usually part of the construction of a property, creating a barrier between the bricks at floor level or below, and the bricks above to stop the moisture from rising, but in some cases may be missing or broken. Both DPC and DPM are terms used in describing the damp proofing process and construction. The basic difference between DPC and DPM is that DPCs are used in walls and generally applied at basement level, while DPMs are the sheet materials incorporated into flooring to prevent moisture transmission.

To understand the construction of DPCs and the improvements seen over the last 100 years, it’s worth looking back at the evolution of building elements. This will also give you a good idea of how the DPC is constructed in your property, depending on when it was built.

Early Timber Floors

Most houses by 1900 were built with suspended ground floors, typically constructed with joists supported by loadbearing walls and covered with floorboards. To help protect against rising damp, brittle materials such as slate were used on the joist ends, as these were usually only protected by a half-brick thickness (115mm/ 4.5”) of wall. Deep joists were expensive, so intermediate supports known as sleeper walls were used, built directly onto small foundations or the ground. These walls should be built like a honeycomb to let air flow through. To ventilate the sub-floor, air bricks were built into the external walls but this was not always efficient, partly due to the construction of the sleeper walls and there not being enough vents.

The 1920s

During the first 20 years of the century, suspended timber floor changes and a number of improvements were made. These included covering the bare earth below the joists with a concrete slab (or ‘oversite’) at or above the external ground level, to prevent a build-up of water and the growth of any vegetation. Floor joists no longer touched the external walls and were supported by fully honeycombed sleeper walls, through which ventilation could flow easily.

The 1950s

Concrete floors became more common in the 1950’s and typically comprised of a layer of hardcore (broken brick and stone), a 100-125mm concrete slab and then the floor surface or screed laid on top. This floor was usually timber or thermoplastic tiles laid in bitumen bedding material, sometimes with a damp-proof membrane (DPM). That meant that the barrier to rising damp would usually have only been the bitumen.

The 1960s – 1990s

Over the next 30 years, a typical concrete floor comprised of a layer of hardcore, a bitumen strip and later on a polythene strip, and with a polythene damp proof membrane laid on a bed of sand (to prevent puncturing) and a floor screed on which tiles or some other finish would be fitted. Hot and cold liquid bitumen solutions were also common, giving superior but more expensive protection. Polythene DPMs then became an accepted form of damp proofing and were laid below the concrete slab, and in the outer walls.

The 2000s

Since the mid 1990’s, Building Regulations have required insulation in ground floors. In concrete floors, these rigid boards are usually laid under the DPM and above or below the concrete slab, as they feature a closed-cell structure making them impervious to water and vapour. The DPM is still very much necessary, to prevent moisture from rising between the board joints and penetrating the slab. Sometimes a DPC in the outer wall might consist of two or more layers – courses – of ‘Engineering brick’ (a brick baked or fired at such high temperatures in manufacture they become virtually ceramics and resist moisture). Suspended concrete floors are also favoured by many developers and constructed with inverted T beams, infilled with concrete blocks. Since 2004, Building Regulations require the underfloor spaces to be vented, however, DPMs are not required so long as minimum gaps between the floor soffits and sub-soil are maintained. Timber floors are also becoming more popular with key improvements including supported joists, treated timber, increased ventilation and insulated flooring.

How do I tell if my home has a DPC?

A functional DPC is essential to any property, to prevent moisture from rising and causing damage. If your home was built in the last 100 years, it’s very likely it was constructed with a DPC / DPM. You may be able to find your DPC by looking at an external wall, about 6 inches or so above ground level to spot a thin line of slate or plastic strip or membrane set in a slightly thicker mortar course.

What if I have a broken or missing DPC?

The majority of homes will have a DPC, however, they can become damaged making them susceptible to damp penetration. A broken or missing DPC will result in problems including damp patches and crumbling plaster on internal and external walls. However, it’s much more common that paving has been laid above or too close to the DPC/DPM level, and allows ‘bridging’ or rain splash to go onto the wall above the DPC/DPM, resulting in damp entry. If left untreated this can result in serious damp problems such as dry and wet rot. There are several solutions available nowadays to fix or install a DPC, however, we recommend that this is always undertaken by a professional company - not a ‘Damp Proofing Specialist’ who is often just a salesman.

A RICS Condition Report, RICS Homebuyer Report and a Building Survey will all check for damp issues and offer varying levels of extensive search, investigation and advice. To speak with our highly experienced team for free initial advice on many building and property-related subjects, or to find out more about our services; please contact the Eyesurvey team on 01206 545 139.

Images courtesy of University of the West of England, Bristol, 2009.



Why the soaring house prices of 2020 are likely to slow down this year


In 2020, building society Nationwide found that UK house prices increased by 7.5%; their fastest rate in more than 20 years, extending a post-lockdown boom and a resilience that seemed unlikely at the beginning of the pandemic. [1] However, these sales figures are expected to fall in 2021.


In early December 2020, mortgage lender Halifax released house price data that showed the biggest increase in house prices since 2004, following the end of Britain’s second national lockdown. Bank of England data also showed the highest number of mortgage approvals since 2007. [2] This increase can be attributed to a number of factors - not only are buyers demanding more space with changing preferences fuelled by the pandemic (including wanting more outdoor space and working from home facilities), but many are continuing to bring forward moving plans, to benefit from the temporary stamp duty holiday.

Introduced in July 2020 and designed to jump-start sales after they collapsed during the first national lockdown; the temporary reduction in Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) rates saw the government increase the threshold to £500,000 for property sales in England and Northern Ireland until 31st March 2021. [3] This means that anyone completing a purchase on a main residence costing up to £500,000 before the deadline, they will not pay any stamp duty and more expensive properties will only be taxed on their value above that amount.

With the average house price in England and Wales now standing at £326,762 [4] and the potential for buyers to save on average £4,500 and as much as £15,000, Rishi Sunak predicted that nearly 9/10 people buying a main home would pay no stamp duty at all. [5]

With the tax exemption break coming to an end in March and the economic realities of 2021, including Brexit and increasing unemployment in-line with the furlough scheme ending in April; sales volumes are expected to slow and fall after the first quarter by up to 5%.

While a boom in transactions in expected in Q1 as buyers rush to purchase before the end of the March 2021 holiday; The Office for Budget Responsibility forecast house prices will plunge by more than 8% before staging a rapid recovery in 2022.[6]

In common with most firms of surveyors, we have experienced a huge increase in workloads, as buyers want surveys carried out in time to catch the stamp duty holiday. The shorter days and limited light afternoons reduce the amount of work it is practical to carry out each day. We presently have diary bookings weeks in advance, yet often work weekends and up to 10pm most evenings, processing work in hand.

Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax, said: “While the economy should begin to recover in 2021, helped by the roll-out of Covid vaccines, the jobs market will inevitably adjust to the changes in demand that are occurring, and unemployment is expected to rise. With the stamp duty holiday also due to expire in March – and lower levels of demand – housing market activity is likely to slow.” [7]

Our advice is - You will have noticed that market prices have tended to increase over recent months. We cannot predict whether these increases will be sustained, fall back, or market prices become stabilised in the foreseeable future. You must give serious consideration to your situation should prices fall after purchase, especially if taking on a mortgage.

If you are considering making an offer to purchase a property, we would be delighted to talk you through our valuation and survey services here at Eyesurvey. For free initial advice and a friendly chat with our experienced team, please get in touch on 01206 545 139.



Why does my survey report say the house has 'cavity walls'?

Some of our clients are mystified by terms we use, like Cavity Walls. Not to worry, as you may not have detailed building knowledge like a Chartered Surveyor, it’s our job to notice and explain these things to you – and that should be in simple English that you can understand.


What did early construction look like?

Centuries ago most buildings were made of timber or stone. Around Elizabethan times circa 15th century, bricks made of fired clay became more commonly used for building. Being small, they could be built into quite intricate structures of considerable strength with attractive results. Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire and Faulkbourne Hall in Essex are both fabulous examples of this original craftsmanship.

These early brick walls would have been built ‘solid’, that is as ‘non-cavity’ formations. If we consider that a brick is on average 225x115x100mm / 9 x 4.5x 4”, then the wall would have been as wide as the length of a brick 225mm / 9”, also called a ‘one-brick wall’. These were usually constructed with interlocking bricks in two close layers running along the walls face, supported with some bricks going through the depth of the wall.

One of our earlier articles recently covered the way in which the bricks interlock, for decoration and strength – the ‘brick bond’.

What was the problem with non-cavity walls?

Non-cavity walls are strong but may suffer from damp entry if they are exposed to rain and/or very high winds. If badly maintained, the mortar joints can also erode over time causing extensive troubles.

What is a cavity wall?

This was a lightbulb moment! A cavity wall is constructed with two separate walls – ‘leaves’ - that have a 50-90mm cavity or hollow space left between them. The idea is simple – the outer wall or ‘leaf’ can be relatively damp, but the inner leaf is separated by the air gap – the cavity – and should stay dry, on the side you live in. Cavity walls should provide some limited thermal insulation as well, for the same reasons.

What about wall ties?

It was realised later that the thinner leaves needed to be tied together to form a stronger structure, or the two wall leaves could buckle, separate further or collapse. These ties were inserted as the building was erected for additional strength between the leaves.

In early times, pieces of wood, six-inch nails and other bits of metal were used as ties, however, as wood rots over time and the other items might not form effective holds, movement may have occurred due to those failures.

Gradually, galvanised wire, stainless steel and plastic ties evolved offering more durability and security in the construction, and which we continue to use today. These are now designed not to carry moisture from the outer to the inner walls. Still, these have had their problems including failure due to corrosion or rusting, but nothing’s perfect.

How do I know if I have cavity walls?

At various times, cavity walls were constructed with common bricks or aggregate blocks, sometimes covered with a decorative finish or cement rendered externally. Nowadays, inner leaves of cavity walls are constructed with lightweight aerated concrete blocks for their superior insulation qualities.

While some houses were built with cavity walls in the late nineteenth century, their use didn’t become popular until the 1920s. Now almost universal in construction since the 1960s, it can be hard to tell with the naked eye whether an older property has cavity walls.

Very generally, if the external walls of your building are less than 265 - 300mm thick, it’s unlikely that it includes a cavity. You may be able to also tell – with a trained eye - by looking at the brick patterns on the outside walls of your property. Typically, if the bricks are all laid on their longest side – as ‘stretchers’ - this is a good indication of a cavity wall.

What is cavity wall insulation?

In later years, people decided an open wall cavity wasn’t the best insulator. To improve on this, various kinds of insulation were invented. This included a urea formaldehyde liquid that was injected into the cavity, turning into foam trapping air bubbles as an insulator. Unfortunately, as it cured, this foam gave off fumes that could irritate or cause breathing difficulties to occupiers.

Later on, plastic beads made from polystyrene were added loose into the top of a newly built cavity until it was filled up. Still later the beads were coated with glue, so they didn’t all cascade out if a hole was made in the wall, such as to fit a new boiler flue or extractor. More recently mineral wool fibre became the most common method of energy-efficient insulation in newer properties, either blown in (injected as loose fibres) or today in the form of mineral fibre slabs, which are built into the cavity during construction.

Please be aware that a bad installation of ‘retro-fit’ cavity wall insulation can lead to severe problems, including aggravating existing damp entry – and it should not be used where walls are exposed to very high winds and where driving rain results.

How we can assist you!

Overall, the objective is to keep your home and living space warm and dry, if all is done correctly. That’s an important thing your Chartered Surveyor looks for; evidence and signs of problems with the walls of the property during a survey on your behalf. For free initial advice and to speak with our highly experienced team on any property concerns, including questions around cavity walls, call Eyesurvey on 01206 545 139.



Seasonal Property Maintenance Checklist: Protect your home for winter


As we approach the end of the year and the onset of chillier winter weather, now is the ideal time to ensure your home is prepared and equipped to handle the more extreme conditions. We’ve pulled together our essential winter home maintenance checklist to put you in good stead for the colder weather, so there are no nasty surprises come spring.


Heating Systems and Sources
Now the heating season is here, high priority for property owners should be to maintain and service your heating system. It’s best to check this early to avoid any issues once the cold weather hits.

Have your boiler serviced. The most important check is to make sure your boiler isn't leaking carbon monoxide and burning efficiently for economy. Your local Gas Safe Engineer can carry out a service or annual inspection to ensure the whole system is working properly – but don’t forget gas fires.

Check your radiators. You should check all of your radiators and any thermostatic valves to ensure they turn on and off and provide heat effectively. If the radiators are warmer at the bottom than the top you’ll need to bleed them to release any trapped air. This will help improve the system’s efficiency and reduce energy bills - and if air is trapped, the radiator can rust internally.

Regulate the temperature. If you’re away from your property for any length of time, ensure that you keep the heating on constantly at a minimum temperature – cheaper than frozen pipe damage. 10c/50f will ensure there’s a consistent temperature around your pipes to stop them freezing, reducing the risk of condensation and mould growth.

Clean your chimneys. It’s recommended that chimneys are cleaned at least once a year and before increased use to remove residue and prevent home fires. Employ a local sweep to inspect and clean your fireplace chimneys and wood-burning stoves. Gas fires should also be cleaned and safety inspected before use.

Plumbing & Pipework
As the water circulating through the plumbing system gets colder, avoid potential issues and huge amounts of damage by preventing pipe freezing.

Insulate pipework. Ensure pipes, especially those in the loft and those outside are well insulated to prevent bursts. Fit vulnerable pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping, ensuring any gaps in the sleeves are under the pipe.

Check the stopcock. Regularly check that main supply stopcocks are working easily so the water supply can be turned off if required. If the tap is stiff to turn, a coat of Vaseline on the tap spindle near the body will often free it. This could prevent serious structural damage!

Insulation & Draught Exclusion
Next up is insulation. Ensuring that you have efficient insulation and draught measures in place can vastly improve your homes EPC rating, saving you money. Fit low-energy light bulbs too.

Inspect your loft. Ensure that your loft insulation is fitted to a depth of at least 270mm/ 11” thick over ceilings, but do not fit any insulation underneath water tanks – they must have good lagging fitted as well.

• Look for leaks. Check inside the roof, especially around chimney joints.

• Insulate draughty areas. Insulate areas that could allow in draughts, such as under doors, loft hatches and between floorboards. Replace draught-proof covers around the front door letterbox and keyhole if necessary. • Repair damaged seals. Repairing door and window-frame seals that are damaged is one of the cheapest ways to save energy. If you find any gaps or holes, fill them with non-hardening caulk – available very cheaply from do-it-yourself shops - or replace the draught-proofing strips.

Roofs & Exterior Surfaces
The exterior of your property is the first line of defence against bad weather. It’s therefore vital to ensure that exterior surfaces are all as robust as possible before winter sets in.

Inspect the roof. A roofing professional can replace any missing, loose, cracked or buckled tiles, slates and flat roof coverings. Pools of water remaining on a flat roof are indications of weak drainage, which can also increase the risk of leaks. Sufficient insulation, moisture barriers and ventilation can help prevent trouble.

Check the soffits and facias around eaves. Repair or replace any potential areas where rainwater could get in and cause internal damage to your property. That will also keep out insects like wasps looking for somewhere to hibernate.

Check for cracks. Not only in house or garage walls! A good sealant that’s reapplied to gaps and joints every two to five years can help prevent this damp risk too.

Look for cracks in your driveway or uneven ground. These can be exacerbated by frost.

Check exterior paint. Cracked or peeling paint may mean moisture is making wooden surfaces swell.

Gardens & Exterior Maintenance
The front and back gardens shouldn’t be neglected either. Overgrown trees, bushes and shrubs can damage fences, brickwork, window and door frames, leaves will block gutters and even drains, and root action can lead to movement damage tor foundations of the house itself.

Prune, trim and tidy. Prune and trim any overhanging shrubs and trees and don’t forget to rake leaves to prevent grass from dying. Growing season begins in a few more months and any existing issues will only be exacerbated by vigorous growth.

Clear the gutters. Empty guttering of sludge, especially if you see weeds growing! - and drain covers of fallen leaves to ensure the free flow of rainwater into drains and away from your home. Collections or overflows of water can weaken brickwork and cause leaks and damp to appear inside your home.

Treat your surfaces. Seal your outside timber such as fences, decks and sheds to ensure it remains weatherproof and robust through the changing seasons.

Check exterior lighting. Ensure that exterior lights all are working, particularly any security lights, for your own safety during dark afternoons and short days, so you can rest assured that your property is well protected.

For free advice and to speak with our highly experienced team on any property concerns, call Eyesurvey Chartered Surveyors on 01206 545 139.



What’s the Difference between a Survey and a Valuation?


At Eyesurvey, we strive to make things simple, which is why whenever a customer asks us about the difference between a valuation and a survey, we’re happy to help them with the answer. If you’ve found your dream home and are keen to find out what lies beneath the surface, a valuation along won’t cut it. Here’s why.


Many people wrongly assume that a valuation is the same as a survey and they use the term interchangeably, however, the two are very different. Before you exchange contracts on a house, make sure that you understand these differences so you can make an informed decision about your purchase.

What is a mortgage valuation for?

The purpose of a valuation is to satisfy the lender that the property you are buying is worth the amount you’re paying for it. While this information is useful for buyers, mortgage valuations are conducted for the benefit of your mortgage provider.

If you are purchasing a property outright (without a mortgage), you will not need to get a valuation done, unless you want to be advised if the proposed price is reasonable. But that isn’t the same as having advice on the condition of the property.

What does a mortgage valuation entail?

Your valuation will be carried out by a specialist surveyor, or a valuer, who is knowledgeable about the prices of comparable homes in the area. Typically, they will only spend 15 – 30 minutes at the property, and will only consider superficial details.

Having a local valuer is key to an accurate valuation. At Eyesurvey we know our local area like the back of our hand. So, things like school catchment areas, development plans and level of demand can all be taken into consideration to give you the best quality and reliable valuation possible.

Where can I get a mortgage valuation?

Your lender, a bank or Building Society, will arrange the valuation, usually charging you a fee.

Eyesurvey do not do valuations for ANY lenders.

We will do valuations for many other purposes though, such as for Buildings Insurance cover, or Probate/ Inheritance Tax, and for Matrimonial proceedings.

Les Long FRICS of Eyesurvey is a member of the RICS Valuers Registration Scheme. If you need a private property valuation for your own purposes, call us and be assured that you will receive the most comprehensive and accurate valuation possible.


What is a property survey for?

To the untrained eye, your property may appear to be in perfect shape, but our highly qualified professionals can frequently identify flaws that are hidden beneath the surface. We provide a range of surveys, but they all have the same goal: to discover any property issues that might end up costing you money in the long run if ignored. Our experts will advise you on the best survey type for your property so that you get all of the information you need.

Learning about these defects before exchanging contracts with the seller gives you an opportunity to re-negotiate your deal, possibly saving you thousands of pounds in remedial work.


It’s not uncommon for buyers to ask the vendor to make repairs prior to the sale, or to lower their offer (for example, if the problem will cost £5,000 to repair, they will reduce their offer by the same amount).

What does a property survey entail?

There is more than one kind of property survey, and the exact process will vary according to which one you choose. In every case a Chartered Surveyor will visit the property and conduct an investigation, however the time spent and the level of detail provided depends on the survey you choose.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors provide three levels of property survey;

Condition Reports (Level 1) – the most basic option, providing a snapshot of the property’s condition to give buyers peace of mind. The surveyor focuses on superficial items and any obvious problems that need to be addressed. This form of report is intended ONLY for recently built properties apparently in good general order, and not others or older types.

HomeBuyer Reports (Level 2) – A non-invasive survey which results in a reasonably detailed report. It will normally include any roof spaces. This will include structural observations or evidence of building movement, and information about issues that should be urgently addressed. Suitable for typical homes, at a mid-range fee.

Building Surveys (Level 3) – Ideal for large, unusual or historic buildings, building surveys are the most thorough investigations on the market. The surveyor will check all reachable or visible areas of the building and make recommendations about how to repair and maintain them. You will understand this is the most costly form of report.

Do I really need a survey?

Of course, you could purchase a property without arranging a survey, but may later find out the entire roof needs a complete rebuild, landing you with a bill of around £15,000. Consequently, once contracts have been exchanged, the vendor is then no longer liable.

If you are paying £400,000-500,000+ for you next home, would you risk not having a survey carried out for the sake of around £400–1,000 in most cases? It really isn't advisable, but it is your choice – and risk – to take.

Where can I find out more about which property survey I need?

Here at Eyesurvey we aim to provide the best service possible to all customers as well as the best prices, and we believe that we have the fastest, friendliest response available.

With over 45 years of experience in the property profession, residential and commercial, there’s nothing much we haven’t encountered! Contact the experienced Eyesurvey Chartered Surveying team on 01206 545 139 for a free chat today about which property survey is suitable for your needs, and help on obtaining a personal valuation.



What's all this about Ground Heave?


Ground heave is a real concern if it happens on your property, that’s why it’s important to understand what it is and recognise the signs and act quickly to limit the damage to your home’s structure. 


As Chartered Surveyors with over 45 years of experience in the profession, there is practically nothing we haven’t dealt with. That’s why we’ve outlined all there is to know about ground heave, and how you can prevent it.


What is ground heave? 


The movement of the earth upward, known as ground heave, is frequently attributed to the swelling of clay subsoils, which swell when moist. Buildings often aren't harmed by clay shrinkage since it happens gradually as it dries out. When it becomes wet again, though, it expands quickly, which causes buildings and foundations to be damaged. The exposed top substrata as well as maybe the ground's surface increase as a consequence. It's also occasionally referred to as "swelling."


You may have heard of subsidence, this is where the ground is unstable and weak, then sinks downwards – ground heave is the opposite effect of this.


What are the causes of ground heave?


As Essex and Suffolk based Chartered Surveyors, we would generally categorise ‘ground displacement’ as less than 150mm, but it’s important to consider than even far less than this amount can lead to severe structural damage to the building walls and their foundations. 


A common cause of ground heave is the removal of a tree, as once the tree has been removed from the soil water is no longer being absorbed by the tree roots. A large tree may extract a hundred gallons a day. This causes the soil to start to swell as it gets wet. 


This swelling can then cause the soil to uplift, sometimes to an even greater volume than when the property was built! The dead weight of the new building crushes the ground on which it stands – that’s “initial SETTLEMENT”.


Ground heave can also occur in soils vulnerable to frost, leaking drains and/or water supplies.

Common signs of ground heave: 

 • Cracking to brickwork and windows, often vertical, sometimes diagonal, and widest at the top.

 • Doors sticking as their frames have become gradually out of square

 • The lifting of paths and patios in surrounding buildings 

Cracks found on your building walls and foundations are more likely to be vertical if ground heave is the culprit, and normally widest at the top, whereas subsidence cracking is more likely to be diagonal, and widest at the bottom.

Prevention and remedying

If you’re worried that ground heave may be a problem in your property, Eyesurvey will begin with a visual inspection as investigation to determine whether that is the case. 

This is likely to lead to more visual inspections, include historic research and drilling boreholes or ‘trial holes’ to determine the type of soil present and access its plasticity or how shrinkable the ground might be. Tree roots might be found too. 

Where heave is likely to be a problem, cellular structures – often called piles – similar to stilts sent deep in the sub-soil may be installed beneath foundations and floor slabs to reduce the upward force of heavy clay from transmitting to the structure above. 

Need further advice on ground heave and repairing your home? Please contact the experienced Eyesurvey Chartered Surveying team on 01206 545 139 for a free chat today.



The Party Wall Act: What Is It & Why Does It Matter?


If you’re planning any building work that will affect a shared wall between you and your neighbours, then you’ll need to know all about the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

If you live in a terraced or semi-detached house or flat, then it’s likely that you will have a shared wall with a neighbouring property. In this article, we explain all about this important legislation and how it could potentially affect you and your renovation plans.


What is The Party Wall etc. Act 1996?

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is a legislative framework intended to prevent (or resolve) disputes in relation to party walls, party structures, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.

It prevents building work undertaken by one neighbour undermining the structural integrity of shared walls or neighbouring property.

Will it affect my plans to renovate?

The Party Wall etc. Act comes into effect if someone is planning to do work on a relevant structure, for the purposes of the Act 'party wall' does not just mean the wall between two semi-detached properties, it also covers:

  • A wall forming part of only one building but which is on the boundary line between two (or more) properties.
  • A wall which is common to two (or more) properties, this includes where someone built a wall and a neighbour subsequently built something butting up to it.
  • A garden wall, where the wall is astride the boundary line (or butts up against it) and is used to separate the properties but is not part of any building.
  • Floors and ceilings of flats etc., and chimney breasts forming part of a Party Wall
  • Excavation near to a neighbouring property.

If you plan to undertake any work covered by the Act, you’ll also have to give ‘Notice’ of the commencement of work to your neighbour, or neighbours.


How Do I Give ‘Notice’?
If your project is covered by the Act, you give Notice with a letter and clear documents including drawings setting out your intentions, sent to all the owners of every neighbouring property affected.

A sample letter is included within The Party Wall Act booklet (download or order your copy at Remember to include all the key information, including:

  • the date the Notice is served
  • the provisional date work will start – this should not be before an agreement is reached
  • all parties’ names and addresses
  • a description of the proposed work

What happens if a dispute arises?
Talk to your neighbours and explain your plans in detail to reach an agreement.

If approval is impossible, then you will have to assign an ‘agreed surveyor,’ or two surveyors, to prepare a Party Wall Award. It is permissible for one surveyor to represent both parties in the case. This ‘Award’ covers:

  • the work that can be carried out
  • how the works will proceed
  • timings
  • measures for preventing damage
  • the payment of surveyors’ fees
  • the current condition of both properties – the condition will normally be re-inspected several months after works are completed to confirm any damage that may have resulted, or see there is none
  • most importantly, costs payable to the adjoining owner if damage occurs

Reaching an agreement with the adjoining owner or owners under the Act does not remove the possible need to apply for planning permission and/or to comply with Building Regulations procedures.

Equally, gaining planning permission or complying with the Building Regulations does not remove the need to comply with the Act where it is applicable - it is usual for any approval under Building Regulations to be conditional on agreeing a Party Wall Award.

Our highly experienced team can offer free advice over the phone on many building and property-related subjects, including the Party Wall etc Act.

Please contact the Eyesurvey Chartered Surveying team on 01206 545 139.



Brick Bonds & How Do They Work?

The way in which a brick is laid, the brickwork bond, strongly influences the appearance of the façade, as a well thought out brickwork bond gives a project extra style and character.

As well as having an effect on the aesthetic, the choice in brickwork bond can also influence the budget. More complicated bonds, which usually necessitate more grinding work, can substantially raise the price.



What are brick bonds?

Bonding is the interlocking arrangement of bricks in a structure such as a wall or column. That interlocking gives the strength to that wall.

Bricks are typically laid to an offset pattern to maintain an adequate lap between joints from one course to the next and to ensure that vertical joints are not positioned above one another on consecutive courses.

Bricks can be laid as soldiers (standing upright), stretchers (laid lengthwise along the wall), or as headers (laid width-wise along the wall).

Flemish bond

The traditional Flemish brick bond has alternative stretchers and headers on every course, with the headers centred over the stretchers underneath. From the beginning of the 18th century, the Flemish bond superseded English bond. It is sometimes found with contrasting headers of different colour to the stretchers, simply as decoration.

What are different types of brick bond patterns?

Most of the brick bonds demand the same size or at least compatible sizes bricks or other masonry units. Uniform size bricks or masonry units create even, repeatable designs which can be applied over any area size. Bricks are now made in factories, to provide uniform size and textures.

Stretcher bond

With the Stretcher bond, courses are laid as stretchers with the joint of one course falling midway between the joints of the courses below. 

Stretcher bond has become the most popular bond as it is time and cost effective to use. This is the most common arrangement if the wall is to be “cavity built” – we’ll cover that in future.

Header bond

Popular during the 18th century, the header bond pattern often employed contrasting brick colours to give a decorative effect. This bond uses so many bricks that it is usually reserved for very high-quality buildings.

English bond

The traditional English brick bond alternates between stretcher and header courses, with headers centred over the stretchers underneath. This is the oldest pattern, and was commonly used until the end of the 17th century. This is among the strongest of bonds. A variation is called “English Garden Wall bond” – see later.

English garden wall bond

The decorative English garden wall bond has three courses of stretchers between every course of headers, often in a different colour, and is often found in garden walls.

Stack bond

In vertical or horizontal stack bonds, the bricks do not overlap. As this arrangement is inherently weak, it is typically used as a decorative laying pattern which delivers a striking visual effect. This bond is rarely used, unless for a non-structural wall.

Why is the brick bond important?

The composition, formation of the bricks themselves, and the pattern in which they are laid, ‘the bond’, can make a great difference to its strength and stability, as well as the overall aesthetic.

They can be decorative, can even be used to date a property, but they can also be an indication to the quality of build of the property.

The kind of bricks used and location can also indicate why that particular wall was built, such as to retain a raised earth bank, or in wet ground conditions, each requiring great strength – “retaining walls”, often built with very hard Engineering bricks.

How are brick bonds important in Chartered Surveying?

An experienced surveyor can look at a wall and deduce a lot of information from it. The bond of the bricks alone can show him just how thick the wall is, and with the type of mortar used, its age and consequently including any later maintenance conducted.

Any holes drilled and plugged later may also show us a “chemical damp treatment”, or perhaps if cavity wall insulation, has been injected. We can then consider how well it was carried out and will it remain effective?

Our highly experienced team can offer free advice over the phone on many building and property-related subjects.

Please contact the Eyesurvey Chartered Surveying team on 01206 545 139.



10% Discount on all our services

Do you serve in the Military or have done so in the past, including Gurkha regiments, perhaps now retired? All serving and retired Armed Forces personnel receive a 10% discount on all our services, all you need is your military ID Card. Just inform our team when enquiring about our services. Eyesurvey is happy to support all our armed forces both past and present. For more information on support for military staff and retired personnel please see



Get rid of that damp patch

As August progresses, the colder and rainier weather will soon arrive. Numerous issues in our houses might be a result of the unpredictable weather. The sooner it is resolved, the simpler it will be, thus it is important to act fast when dampness first appears in houses. Maintain good ventilation in your homes, even during the colder months, to attempt to prevent moisture from becoming an issue. All that is required is a slightly open window. If you start to become cold, a jumper is preferable to damp on your walls and behind furniture.


Never overpay

Dilapidations are the costs associated with restoring a property to its former state after a rental term has ended. The landlord typically determines the cost of dilapidations after inspecting the property. Sometimes, this sum is exaggerated, causing you to pay more than necessary. By conducting a property inspection or survey on your behalf, our experts at Eyesurvey will stop this so that you are confident you are paying the appropriate price. For further details, contact our staff right now.


Have a look at our customers reviews

Our staff offer the finest service possible thanks to our years of expertise, whether you need assistance with a civil dispute or a homebuyer's survey. We take providing excellent customer service very seriously, which is why we have a page dedicated to client reviews. For the past three years, we have consistently been ranked as one of Colchester's top three chartered surveyor firms. Local companies are rated using a 50-point inspection procedure by The Three Best Rated, an impartial programme that assess small businesses./p>


Quality does not always come at a low price.

We can all acknowledge that when buying something, we are tempted to hunt for the cheapest choice or what seems to be the ‘best offer’. When it comes to property-related services, the cheapest choice isn't necessarily the greatest; you must choose what is best for you. For over 45 years, our staff has been conducting surveys, resolving property/land disputes, and calculating business rates, so you can be certain that when you choose us, you will receive the finest service at the best price.


How can Japanese Knotweed cause damage to your property?

If left unchecked, Japanese Knotweed may rapidly ruin the foundations of any building. Did you know it may spread up to three metres beneath your house, destroying everything in its path? The problem with eradicating this plant is that even the smallest of spores left in the earth might allow it to reappear and wreak the same amount of damage as previously found. If you feel this invasive plant is growing beneath your home, please contact a member of our team to schedule a consultation, and they will advise you on the best course of action.


We Know Our Stuff!

We've worked with hundreds of various property-related situations over the years and now know how to handle just about everything. Our knowledgeable experts can help you resolve property disputes, explain the many types of surveys available to offer the necessary information for your sale or purchase, or assess your company rates to determine whether they are too expensive. If you have a property-related problem, our experts will solve it quickly.


Are you sure that your business rates aren’t set too high?

Many people go about running their business on a day-to-day basis without realising that their company rates have been set too high. The government expects to pay back more than £4 billion to people who have been overcharged for years for those that can prove that their rates were incorrectly set some time ago. If you are doubtful, one of our highly trained staff members can investigate the situation for you to guarantee the rate is right.


Keep an eye out for subsidence.

Did you know that because houses built before the mid-1960s fwere built on shallower foundations, they are more susceptible to sinking than those built after that time period? Although your property may be fine for the time being due to all of the rain we've had, as the earth dries out in the next summer months, everything might change. To ensure that you are doing all possible to prevent subsidence, make sure that all plumbing and drains are checked on a regular basis, and that neighbouring trees and vegetation are pruned often.


Easy checks that save you time and frustration

The cold weather seems to last longer and longer each year so there is a greater likelihood that your property has been harmed during that time. That is why it is critical to do a few easy checks on your home throughout the spring and summer months so that any issues may be resolved in time for autumn/winter. Examine all walls and ceilings for cracks, and check the roof for any tiles that have slipped off during the storms. Detecting these issues early prevents them from becoming a problem later.


Making sure your house is up to service

Now that Spring has arrived, it's the ideal time to repair anything that has been damaged or deteriorated over the winter months. For example, that tiny wet patch in the corner of the living room has become significantly larger and will not go away on its own. A member of our skilled staff will inspect your home from top to bottom to verify that everything is in functioning condition. If something isn't quite right, our experts can help you figure out what the best course of action is.


Handling probate

Our highly skilled staff has dealt with a variety of probate situations and will be able to assist you with yours. The death of a loved one is traumatic enough, but having to manage all of their assets left behind is the very last thing you want to be coping with. Whether it's only the property or your possessions and money that need to be addressed, our experts will relieve you of the worry and manage everything related to property concerns and valuation.


Getting a valuation can be difficult

Getting an accurate valuation of your home can be difficult at times, especially when there are numerous factors to consider, such as public transportation, school catchment areas, and the demand for housing in the area. Sellers will frequently have their estate agents value the property since it is less effort than utilising numerous businesses; nevertheless, you cannot blame them if the value estimate is incorrect; therefore, when you use our experts, you can be rest assured that you are obtaining the best price for your home.


An accurate valuation is key!

Did you know that if your property isn't evaluated appropriately, the amount of inheritance tax you pay will skyrocket? This is due to the fact that the tax is 40% if the value exceeds a particular threshold. Our staff of highly skilled surveyors can guide you through the difficult procedure; they have dealt with similar circumstances many times before and will always know exactly what to do.


Safety is our top priority

We understand that times are difficult right now with changing guidance regarding covid and visits from professionals in your property. We want to assure our customers that our entire staff is taking all necessary efforts to keep everyone as safe as possible. When on the premises, all employees will wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which can include masks and gloves if required by current legislation or if you would just prefer its use in your property while we are there, we are happy to oblige.


Is a professional witness needed?

When defending a legal case, having a professional witness in your camp, such as a member of our highly experienced team, may be quite beneficial. We can advise you on the most appropriate surveys to undertake in order to increase your chances of a positive outcome. Our team has more than 45 years of expertise dealing with these difficulties, so there is nothing they haven't seen before. Our staff will do all possible to assist you receive the justice you deserve, from boundary conflicts to homeowner disputes.


What is Enfranchisement?

Are you considering purchasing the freehold or extending the lease on your business or residential property? Enfranchisement and the procedure surrounding can be tricky to understand since there are so many variables to consider, the results are so important for your future and your finances. If you choose to instruct our staff, they will take care of all the paperwork, ensuring that you obtain the very best mortgage options.


Which survey?

Buying a property can be fraught with worry and so many things to consider. One of the most important areas is which survey to have on the property you wish to purchase. Our team have carried out hundreds upon hundreds of surveys over the years. If you are not sure which is best for you then let us know and we would be happy to advise. We complete surveys on residential and commercial premises including Homebuyers Survey, Condition Reports and complete RIC Building Surveys for complete peace of mind. Call our team for more information.


Do’s and don’ts of asbestos

Everyone have heard of asbestos and are well aware of the dangers it can cause to your health. Inhaling asbestos fibres can cause lung damage and over long periods of exposure can lead to asbestosis. What many people don’t know is asbestos is still present in many homes and properties over a certain age. The presence of asbestos is fine, as long as its not disturbed. If you are undertaking building work and come across asbestos or are not sure if this is what you are dealing with, give our team a call today.


Safety is still a priority

All though life is getting back to normal after the recent pandemic, at Eyesurvey, we are still taking precautions to ensure all of our customers are as safe as possible. We are happy to wear masks when visiting your property if you wish, and all of our staff carry out complete hygiene checks in between visits. If you have any special requests before our visit to survey your property, for example you wish to not attend at the same time, please do let us know and we can accommodate most people’s requirements. Safety will always come first.


Winter is on its way

Now that autumn is here, winter will soon arrive. These two seasons put our properties through a rough time keeping the wind, rain and snow at bay. If you notice any problems with your properties such as cracks appearing in walls or around windows, or possibly damp patches within the home, now is the time to put them right. At Eyesurvey, we can survey your property so we can get to the root cause of the problem, so when the builders come in, they know exactly what they are dealing with. Give our experienced team a call.


Let’s talk about leasehold

When buying a property, you will come across the term leasehold or freehold. Freehold means you will own the land that the property sits on. Leasehold means you will own the property but not the land it sits on as someone else will own this and generally charge ground rent on an annual basis. When purchasing a property, you need to ensure the leasehold runs for a good number of years. Our team at Eyesurvey can complete a property survey for you to ensure the price being asked corresponds the term left on the lease.