Detailed Structural Building Survey In Highgate
Monday 15th February 2021
Carl O'Boyle BSc MRICS FCIOB MFPWS
Tayross Chartered Building Surveyor's recently surveyed a property in Highgate, London, on the 13th of February 2021. This was your typical end of terrace Victorian property which had been modernised over recent years.
It never fails to amaze me what people will do to save money on building projects. We observed that the basement conversion had been carried out by the existing owner. It was noted that no robust system for tanking had been installed and the foundations were all built of slab including a column in the middle of the property. There was no pump system to relieve pressure on the tanking should the water table rise up during heavy rain. It was also noted that there was no DELTA waterproof membrane system to handle positive pressures in the soil or to manage/disperse water. Instead the seller had installed thick polythene however, there was no indication of how this was joined, made continuous or how it was fixed to the wall. This make-shift tanking and construction may be fine in the short term but in the long term weaknesses are likely to occur. Any flooding or raising of the water table will most likely make the tanking arrangement fail, this could have serious consequences.
We also noticed that there was an internal manhole that had a seal around it, which was only a single seal. During summer time it is likely that the gases will build-up in the sewage infrastructure and smell. There is a likelihood the smell will enter the property through the basement kitchen area.
As it very common we noticed that the roof slates used at the property are man-made, with no allowance for expansion and contraction between slates. It also came to our attention that this is very likely to be an ACM (asbestos containing material).
Although there were double glazed units on the ground floor when we surveyed the individual rooms we observed that the sliding sash windows were only single glazed on the upper levels.
It was also observed that the trip switch boards where constructed with a plastic casing, this would not comply with modern electrical regulations.
Tayross Chartered Building Surveyor's will always recommend carrying out a detailed building and structural assessment of old properties, especially properties with basement conversions as you need to be aware of what you are buying into and the long-term costs that come with it.
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