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Preservation Surveys - An Introduction
Preservation Surveys are common in a number of different industries, and often exist to ‘collect and analyse data about the physical conditions of materials’.
In any situation where physical objects are exposed to manipulation or the elements, they are likely to degrade. Preservation surveys are intended to measure the level of degradation, and keep a close eye on issues before they become major problems. They also exist to identify what kind of necessary actions are to be made to improve and restore physical assets.
When it comes to property, preservation surveys normally fall into two categories – the investigation of an existing defect or as part of an extensive survey made before purchase. A specialist preservation surveyor will be contacted and instructed to carry out a survey based on a specific or general issue – often, a focus will be placed on damp and damp-proofing as a predominant cause of structural issues.
A surveyor can glean a lot from an external inspection of your property. Its age and general condition can be observed, as well as any obvious alterations which have been made that might affect the structure or any of the land around it. It is recommended that an expert and qualified construction professional visits your property themselves; however there are still a few things you can look for yourself….
Guttering, downpipes and any other rainwater management components can be observed from the outside. Pay close attention to the behaviour of rainwater around your property.
Work from top to bottom – start by observing the roof, the chimneys, the guttering and the external brickwork and masonry. It is original? Has it been repointed? Is any of the masonry showing signs of cracking? Look for signs of existing damp proofing course, and make sure all the drainage systems and soakaways are intact and not blocked.
With the external inspection it’s important not to forget the relationship between the outlying land on your property and the buildings themselves. Check for risk of groundwater penetration, and make sure that the land encourages surface water to drain away in sufficient volume.
External Vegetation on your property can cause major issues – it will cause damp and moisture problems inside your property, damage plasterwork and potentially cause problems with wall pointing and open waste drainage. This is an important point in one of our blog posts on how to keep your house dry this winter
Internal inspections of any building take into account construction and structural issues, and are likely to be focussed on a specific issue with regards to brickwork or timber defects.
An internal survey will be specific to each building – layout, general nature of construction and individual idiosyncrasies will ensure that each survey is targeted to the specific issues within each property.
One of the issues with internal inspections is that many issues or problems can be concealed. You will need to make sure that all soft linings and furnishings are removed or at least peeled back to make the most of your inspection. Internal joinery must be included as well as roof timbers – fungal decay is likely to occur in damp wood if left untreated and can escalate to long term issues such as dry rot. Careful inspection of ground and floor level timbers should be made frequently wherever possible – additional issues must be clearly identified and rectified.
Background information, additional data and case studies can be found in the Property Care Association’s Whitepaper on Preservation Surveys
Here at Permagard we offer a wide range of damp proofing products, and would be happy to offer expert advice when it comes to damp or waterproofing your property.
Contact us for more information on our services or structural surveys.