Building Surveying and Design
SERVICES
Surveys
 
Residential surveys are available in 3 levels for differing situations and budgets. Providing different depths of inspection and detail in Report for varying costs. Walk throughs are not appropriate for all situations, see below. Full Surveys are advised generally, but may be lighter/cheaper for properties that are newer, in good condition, without special conditions. It is estimated on average houses purchased without Survey can have 8,000e worth of repairs required. Snag lists on new properties are always worthwhile particularly if purchasing from speculative Design/Build developer, see below.
 
Other Surveys prepared for:- 
  • Pre-engineering works etc showing Schedule of Condition prior.
  • Stock Condition Surveys of property portfolio for Residential, Commercial or other property.
 
Sample Report Summaries are included as synopsis below, along with photos of typical property surveyed on Gallery page. Full sample Reports are available on request.
 
  • One example is of a terraced house in Dublin which had been newly refurbished in a cynically speculative manner.  Although it initially seemed to be a decent house, with ground floor converted into fully open plan by removing corridor giving a through lounge/kitchen, with fine new new kitchen and bathroom, it turned out to be a disaster. Dampness was present extensively in walls and suspended timber ground floor which had no DPC to sleeper walls supporting floorboards, on top of which was lain a fine laminate timber floor. Extensive plaster removal throughout ground floor was necessary including removal of kitchen, a DPC was required to sleeper walls of floor, requiring temporary removal of flooring. Worse however was the fact there was no Means of Escape from the upper bedrooms, even if open plan staircase was seperated off from open plan ground floor, there was nowhere to escape from rear yard, which was only 3m deep and had a 2m high wall with no gate therefrom ! Occupants would be trapped in close proximity to a fire radiating through Lounge window. This property conversion probably had no Building Regs approval, had insoluble Fire Escape issues and expensive Damp problems. The purchaser was able to walk away from the sale thankfully !
 
  • An imposing, large 1930's detatched Limerick property with 5 bedrooms on an elevated site was a fine property to survey. Although not Protected, was of refined, Architect designed, period elegance and had been featured in the Irish Times. It had a number of defects as would be expected. It required sensitive understanding and recommendation of correct solutions/restoration works, particularly with regard to apparant dampness. Requiring a solution that firstly correctly diagnosed this as more condensation than rising damp, on a dry elevated site as could be seen from floor void. Then offerred various methods of extracting humidity by de-humidifiers and heat pumps, probably without need to inject/re-plaster walls that although showing higher readings from damp meter were in good condition and dry to background brickwork, confirmed by deep wall probes fitted to meter. Restoration options were offered for loggia, replacement of garage dangerous flat roof with pitched, slated cupola in keeping with main building, suggesting possibility of Roofspace conversion to Games room, Nannys flat etc as purchaser desired.
 
  • A modern Apartment block that although fine in many ways, had serious issues with incorrect/over-sensitive smoke detectors that went off frequently, and ineffective landing fire seperation to each floor on single staircase escape over 4 storeys. Solution suggested was replacement of smoke detectors with heat detectors, less susceptible to false alarms, replacing of landing fire doors/uprating of lower part of screens and introduction of amended protocol for calling of fire Brigade, which because of frequent false alarms was simply silenced by residents on every occasion.
 
Full Building/Structural Survey
 
This is the most detailed and intensive level of survey, appropriate for older or period properties, those expected to be in poor condition, or where alterations/conversions are intended. Giving the greatest security to prospective purchasers they will not be liable for significant subsequent repairs and recommended option. It is estimated houses bought without detailed survey can on average require 8,000 euros corrective work thereafter. Such detailed identification of works required, with Approximate costings, can be used to re-negotiate purchase price, or avoid contract of sale entirely where conditional on satisfactory report. They can be lighter/cheaper, where the property is newer, in good condition without special requirements, to be confirmed on site as quoted.
 
Extent of Survey
 
  • All visible structure and fabric internally/externally,  and where acessible up to 3m off ladder, use of binoculars above for Roof/chimmney etc. Flat roofs viewed where possible from windows etc. Including extensions/alterations, commentary on Planning/Building Regulations position.
  • Internal Attic/voids where access hatch/doors, lift up panels/trap doors etc. Tanks where visible / Fire-stopping party walls.
  • No dismantling, unscrewing moving of heavy furniture, lifting of carpets or floorboards. No destructive testing or that which creates marks/damage to property or inacessible areas on day of inspection.
  • External grounds, outbuildings, trees, boundary walls (not party wall/fence survey, comments only on apparant situation).
  • Commentary on apparant extensions/alterations from Building Regulations/Planning perspective, requirement for Compliance cert. etc. Overlooking/intrusons from adjacent properties also considered.
  • Design commentary where difficulties/improvements readily apparant, or by arrangement if specific alterations envisaged.
  • Drain covers to be lifted, gully grids removed without unscrewing, allowing torch/visual inspection. Air/water testing additional as required on survey, further CCTV or builder tests recommended as required, dependant on circumstances.
  • External Soil/waste drainage and Rainwater disposal system.
  • Septic tanks, obvious commmentary on apparant operation/positioning rules and adequacy for property. No special testing.
  • Mechanical and Electrical services -  visual inspection only to accessible equipment/circuit boards/wiring/pipework, valves, tanks/cylinders, incoming mains etc. Operating of Boilers/fans/equipment etc to ensure effective operation, acheiving of operating temperatures in reasonable time/adequacy for situation. Specialist testing recommended where considered to be necessary by RECI or RGII contractors for Electrics and Gas Heating/Plumbing installations.
  • Energy efficiency, controls, insulation, lighting overall commentary and improvements possible.
  • Health and Hazard issues generally e.g. - safey glazing, carbon monoxide, falls/window safety catches, fire and escape, security, leaks/insanitary conditions, lead water mains, asbestos, deleterious materials, high voltage power cables present, or cables to house unsheatehed and vulnerable to occupant off roofs/ladders. Problematic processes/storage/noise etc nearby.
  • Radon - only affects ground floor properties, outline comment on location susceptibility, presence of hidden protection is only possible if plans provided. Testing additional, Standard guidance included, see Radiological Protection Institute Ireland.
  • Pyrites - only where obvious signs present to ground floor properties. Usually limited to those built between 1990-2008, and not obvious for 20yrs perhaps. Testing additional where suspected hardcore/fill contamination may be present. Standard guidance included.
  • Flooding - outline comment on location potential susceptibility, further research additional. Standard guidance included, as Office of Public Works website.
 
Executive Summary/Costings
 
Report will include detailed, balanced, explained over-view of the property in laymans terms from which a buy decision can be made. All properties have defects usually, they have to be explained in a clear balanced perspective so as not to prevent a purchase which can be dealt with by simple adjustment to price. Where significant or uncertain problems are present then a clear negative purchase signal is given. Approximate costings are provided for all significant items.
 
Apartments (additional on above will include)
 
  • Common parts, circulation, grounds/boundaries, car parks, security, communal facilities.
  • Lifts, tanks, booster sets/pumps, incoming electric mains/meters. Often inaccessible/specialist, overview commentary only.
  • Fire precautions - means of escape, lighting, alarms, detection, risers, commentary against Building Reg. requirements.
  • Need for Fire certificate
  • Disability access certificate and adequacy thereof of provisions against Part M - B. regs.
  • Commetary on Management of premises overall, if Service charge Planned Maintenance plans available commentary thereon for additional fee. To comply with Statutory Management Regulation - Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011, Managing Agent to be registered with Property Services Registration Authority. Annual Budget to be approved by Owners management Commitee. 
 
Walk throughs
 
A cheaper/lighter alternative to Full Surveys, not usually recommended generally and only possible on newer properties in good conditon, with no special circumstances. Where Client takes significantly more risk because of the lesser depth of inspection and reduced time spent thereon. Reduced content of Report, largely an extended Executive Summary with Bullet Point lists of Essential/Desirable works. Can arrange telecon/email report initially where urgent, or for Auction etc.
 
Snag Lists
 
For new build or recently refurbished properties, often offerred for sale by Design/Build developers who have not been supervised by external Architects and whose work has only been subject to limited inspection by Building control. There is a need to check works have been completed to conform to Building regulations/Planning permission and Design drawings, to a good standard of workmanship, properly cleaned, commissioned, flushed, balanced and tested with relevant Certificates provided.
 
One new, expensive semi-detatched property inspected was largely satisfactory but still had a number of significant issues:-
  • Extremely noisy pump on first floor for second floor bathroom, when operated would awaken all sleeping occupants, alternative design types available significantly quieter. Although as designed, it was possible to negotiate replacement post contract saving around 1000e.
  • Heating system had a lot of air within, making strange noises requiring venting and balancing.
  • Drinking water supply was not flushed and chlorinated, unfit for consumption.
  • Flank rendered block wall had movement joint ommitted contrary to drawings and may well result in uncontrolled, unsightly cracking potentially, we were able to record and make any correction required conditional on sale if it transpired subsequently.
  • Lounge had 2 carbon monoxide detectors, one should have been a Smoke detector.
 
 
Design, Drawing and Specification
Full Design service on a variety of Building types, initial discussions on outline options without charge to ensure client is happy with conceptual approach before commitment.  Close involvement in development therafter from carefully agreed Brief, worked through until basis for Detailed Design formulated to ensure no abortive work. Outline sketches and discussions as required during this process to assist in acheiving this end.
 
Building Regulations/Planning and Protected Structure Applications.
 
Detailed Design drawings and full Specification of works. 
Contractor selection and Tendering also Supervision on Site for some locations/situations.
To a variety of Building types :-
  • Domestic- extensions, alterations internally, loft conversions, luxury refurbishments.
  • Education from Nursery to Universities.
  • Industrial.
  • Commercial.
  • Leisure.
  • Storage - General and special requirements.
  • Catering - Commercial Kitchens, Canteens, Restraunts.
  • Hospitals - A&E Theatres, ITU, Laser Endoscopy units.
  • Medical/SocialWelfare - Surgeries/Health Centres.
  • Elderly Persons and other Residential Care Homes.
  • Mobility/Accessability Adaptations - ramps, hoists, baths, circulation, lifts, kitchens.
  • Offices/Banking.
Other Services
Period/Protected Structures
 
Surveys, repairs, restorations, and negotiations with Planning Authorities along with provision of Method statements/Drawings for Approval. Research in historical records to assist in restoration of details to match original. Also consultation with Georgian/Victorian societies and Heritage/Conservation organisations. Liason with Conservation specialist Contractors and Engineers.
 
  • Complex in-situ repairs to timber structural elements, such as Roof Truss bearing ends where rotten within walls, using specialist resin repairs and purpose made steel shoes. Allowing retention of original structural members and ceilings/special plaster features cornices, ceiling roses etc attached thereto.
  • Composite replacement of enhanced structural capacity members as steel flitch beams with timber facing thereover to replicate original appearance.
  • Specialist Restraint bolts/anchors for bulging walls, leaning gables.
  • Re-running original plaster features using fibrous plaster to match original specification.  Ascertaining original plaster specifications and reinstating to match.
  • Stonework Repairs/Restoration, Shelter coats or matching Resin repairs where suitable.
  • Roof covering renewals, Cast Leadwork and Natural Slate, Plain clay tiling. Traditional swept, laced valleys and mitred hips etc.
  • Lead/Copper roofing, reinstatement of Rainwater goods, hoppers/downpipes to match originals.
  • Sandblasting to reveal original features.
  • Timber restorations to match original detail/profiles for Windows, Architraves, Skirtings etc..
  • Painting specification to accord with original.
  • Traditional damproofing works/re-plastering.
  • Timber treatment for Rot/Insect attack.
 
Specialist Other Works
 
Building Pathology Investigation works to determine cause of complex defects using specialist techniques/repairs e.g:-
  • Ultrasound to check for leaks through wall cladding/profiled metal sheathing to light industrial buildings.
  • Earth leakage testing to flat roofs to see where current disappears through roof via leak points.
  • Radar mapping of water trapped within flat roofs, ponding on decks/insulation. 
  • Water extraction using suction pumps in conjunction with above to remove entrapped water.
  • Boroscope investigations e.g. to see if cavities bridged allowing water to track across, ensure Fire-barriers are in place etc.
  • Renewals of failed cavity wall ties.
  • Tree/Building problems. Trial hole inspections to ascertain if tree roots are causing problems with foundations/drains etc.
  • Underpinning/Root Barriers.
  • Fire Risk Assessments.