External insulation system

We recently inspected a property in London, W1. The building was refurbished about 9 years ago and has recently shown signs of deterioration. To improve thermal efficiency the contractor had implemented an external  insulation system which involved fixing polystyrene boards on to the outside of the building before covering with a mesh and then rendering over the top. This system is good in terms of improving the thermal efficiency of the building, however this system was only implemented around 9 years ago and so the durability of this method is questionable. We have not come across this method of insulation much, especially on blocks in London.

External  insulation system deterioration

Odd damp proofing system

During a Full Building Survey in Epsom, Surrey we discovered this Schrijver system installed on the subject property. This is a Dutch damp proofing system, however there appears to be no need for this to be on this property as there is already a dpc installed and there was no evidence of damp or historic damp. This system isn’t very common, however when seen, this system is usually installed into properties with 9″ solid masonry walls, not cavity walls as seen in the photo.

Schrijver system

Bargate Stone

We have recently carried out a a Grade II Listed property at Chilworth near Guildford in Surrey – Surrey Hills.

The property is a large Victorian country house split into wings and has interesting crenulations, tower roundel and stepped gables. We were asked to comment upon the condition of the gables and the stonework, both sandstone and Bargate stone. The mortar has severely weathered and the stones are loose with erosion. The situation has been exacerbated by previous repairs with hard cement mortar which has trapped moisture behind the cement therefore not allowing the walls to breathe.

Unfortunately, the only advice we are able to give is to take down the parapets and rebuild to match, salvaging as much of the stone as possible and bedding on new lime mortar. Associated works will include cutting and dressing new stone to match where there is erosion, raking out all remaining hard Portland cement mortar, replacing corroded ironwork and also checking the lightening conductor. The lightening conductor is of some age and may have to be replaced.

Regrettably, with a property which is over 130 years old, weathering will occur and with this form of construction, rebuilding of sections is not uncommon and will result in very high maintenance bills.

Bargate Stone

Black Mould

Recently we carried out a Market Valuation on a property in Mitcham, London. During the inspection large areas of mould were evident in the upstairs bathroom. The most common cause of mould is condensation, if bathrooms are not properly ventilated then it is likely that mould growth will occur. It is important to have this treated ASAP as it has been linked to various respiratory problems.    Black mould     Black Mould 2

Vegetation Growth to Roofs, stacks and gutters

Chimney veg

Vegetation growth in gutters and on chimneys is a clear sign that there has been a lack of attention to routine maintenance and repair which then leads to damp penetration. This was apparent during a HomeBuyers Inspection on a property we surveyed in Crawley, West Sussex. Vegetation growth to the chimney will mean that some repointing will be required and a close quarters inspection with long ladders should be carried out as soon as possible by a brick layer or roofing contractor. Blocked gutters are easier to deal with but must be cleaned out at least once a year to prevent blockages and rainwater water spilling over onto the walls which could result in water penetration. Roofing underfelt should be dressed into gutters to help seal the gaps under eaves.

Leadwork Cavity Tray Detailing

Whilst inspecting a modern house in Redhill, Surrey we noticed the lead work between the garage roof and the main house was pulling away. There is no evidence of weep holes, which would indicate that there is no cavity tray installed. This is poor detailing and could lead to water penetration.

Leadwork Cavity Tray detailing

Damaged ridge tiles

One of the most common roof defects is the ridge tiles becoming loose overtime, which is usually caused by weathering. This defect can lead to water getting into the roof space, which may lead to further issues if left untreated. Re bedding the loose ridge tiles is a minor repair which is also relatively cheap to carry out. This photo was taken during a Full Building Survey in Epsom, Surrey.

Damaged Ridge Tiles

Loft insulation

The current Building Regulations minimum guide for loft insulation thickness is 270mm. Many older properties do not comply with current building Regulations for loft insulation. From upgrading to the current guide of 270mm, homeowners on average can expect savings of around £20 per year on energy bills and save approximately 55kg of CO2 per year. As you can see from the photo below, this house is very well insulated, exceeding the current guidelines. This photo was taken in Warlingham, Surrey whilst conducting a Full Building Survey.



expansion joints

dscn9682We recently carried out a Full Building Survey in Sutton – this large stepped crack was found on the boundary wall. This is due to there being a lack of expansion joints. Expansion joints should be located every 5-6 meters in order to prevent cracking, and to help prolong the stability of the wall.

If you have a boundary wall issue or any other property related problem, contact us today. We have over 25 years’ experience in offering a wide range of property and construction related services and provide a professional and friendly service to all clients.

Shrinkage cracking


Shrinkage cracks are very common in new buildings. They are caused when the new plaster expands when it fully dries out, leaving small hairline cracks in the plaster. These will not be detrimental to the fabric of the building and they are cheap to repair. This photo was taken during a Full Building Survey in Redhill, Surrey.

At Brian Gale we have over 25 years’ experience providing friendly and professional surveying services for clients across Surrey, Sussex, London and further afield. If you need a full building survey or require another service, do not hesitate to get in touch with us today and speak to a member of our expert team.