Today, I’ll move on to look at how to carry out an external inspection.
When inspecting the outside of resale properties, take time to look over any outbuildings, the boundary walls and the general site conditions:
- Look at boundary walls. Check for leaning, bowing, cracking and signs of movement indicating poor construction or maintenance.
- Check for exposed steel reinforcing, particularly on the roof. Exposed steel rusts, allowing water to penetrate the superstructure. As it rusts it expands, causing the concrete to crack and eventually fall away. Thoroughly examine the area around any exposed steel for cracks. (This problem, as shown in the photo above, is expensive to rectify. It requires the damaged concrete to be removed, the steel reinforcing cleaned and protected, and the surface re-rendered and decorated both inside and outside the property.)
- Check external walls for any signs of dampness, such as discoloured or flaking paint, powdery deposits and mould growth. Pay particular attention to the base of the walls. (Moisture causes the majority of problems with masonry. It affects the adhesion of paint and spritz, causing blistering, flaking and mould growth. As well as being unsightly, damage to the structure of the building can occur. In extreme cases salts in the building fabric are brought forward with the moisture as the surface dries out. Although the fluffy type can be brushed off easily, it is symptomatic of more serious underlying problems that can be difficult and expensive to rectify.)
- Check the finish of the walls to see if there are any large cracks.
- Make sure walls and corners are straight.
- Are there any disturbing smells from drains?
- Check that drainage is away from the property. Low areas around properties may collect water.
- Where fitted, check that gutter down-pipes have extensions or splash-blocks to direct the water away from the property and its foundations.
- Check that patios, porches, balconies and driveways slant away from the property to carry away water.
- Surface gradient should be highest next to the property so that water is carried away. If the plot is graded correctly, there should be no standing water in the garden or patio areas 24 hours after it rains.
- Are the junctions between the walls and the windows and doors properly sealed?
- If you are able, check that the foundation, ground beams and columns are free of major cracks, crumbling and signs of dampness.
- Check that the visible parts of the concrete slab are free of major cracks, crumbling and signs of dampness.
- Does it have a concrete roof? If so, has it been sealed?
- Check the roof tiles are level and evenly laid and that the roof is not sagging. Are there any missing or broken tiles?
- Check that any wood has not cracked, decayed, warped or been attacked by insects.
- Check the swimming pool to make sure that the pumping and filtration equipment is in good order and that the pool is not cracked or damaged.
- Check any metalwork for rust and flaking or loose paint.
- Check that the external doors and gates open and close properly.
- Check the electricity supply box, which is usually on one of the external walls. Is it in good condition and are its internal electrics in good order?
- Check that there are no leaks from the septic tank.
- Check that the garden is neat and tidy and that no trees are overhanging the roof. Note that some trees have very invasive roots and can get inside water pipes and drains causing blockages and breakages.
The list above is illustrative but not exhaustive.
I always recommend that potential purchasers should have resale properties inspected professionally by a qualified independent surveyor.