Structural issues can blight a landlord, property developer, or anyone looking to buy a property. It’s a great idea to learn about what problems you can face, so if you are ever in a position where these are problems you will know exactly what to do.
Here’s a list of some of the structural issues you may face – keep an eye out for signs of these when viewing a new property, or visiting a property you own.
Subsistence or Heave
Subsistence is one of the most common modern issues with property. Heave or movement are serious structural issues that could easily compromise your property to the point where you need to take action. However, ‘settlement’ is more common and much less worrying (though when left alone can be an issue, especially with time).
General subsistence can be caused by a variety of issues, including ground conditions, geological problems, clay shrinkage, tree (which can actually remove moisture from the ground), a leaking water pipe or sewer, or erosion. With some properties there are also unknown issues you will never find out about until you notice any subsistence, like mining subsidence, a form of ground shift that is only found where there are old mine shafts.
Wall Tie Failure
Wall ties are strips or bars, made of metal that span the cavity and tie the internal and external walls of bricks or blockwork together. Once these fail, this can cause the internal and external walls to bulge or break. You can see evidence of wall tie failure when you spot a wall that is bulging or looks unsupported.
Most people have some awareness of what Asbestos is. It is a building material that was used around the 1980s, it’s designed to provide insulation or to provide a fire safety barrier, and can be found in the walls or ceilings. Finding this in your property is an issue. Exposure to asbestos causes cancers and other diseases, including mesothelioma and asbestosis. It is currently not legal to build a new property in the UK with Asbestos, but could be found in any industrial or residential building built or refurbished before the year 2000.
Damp, when severe, is often considered a structural issue with a property. Damp can be classed as ‘penetrating’ when it visabily comes through the walls of the building and can usually be seen as an area of ‘wet’ staining on the wall or ceiling. Rising damp is where there is a failure in the damp proof course and moisture rises up through the building from the ground.
Dry rot, or wet rot, are two forms of fungus that affects the structural integrity of any property with wooden supports. There are many different types of wet rot fungi, including both the brown rot and white-rot fungi. The most common type of wet rot fungus found in homes is a brown rot fungus.
The most common household dry rot fungus is a brown rot fungus known as Serpula lacrymans. Serpula lacrymans is said to be the most damaging destroyer of indoor wood construction materials in the UK.
Invasive weeds are plants that can grow quickly and can cause damage to property. Japanese Knotweed is one particularly serious kind of invasive weed that can cause structural damage. Plants aren’t something to be taken lightly, as it has been estimated that as much as £20 Billion in damage was caused by Japanese Knotweed alone in 2018.
‘Woodworm’, ‘woodworms’, or ‘burrowing pests’ are general names for all types of a wood-boring insect. These insects can massively affect the structural strength of the timber used in roofs, walls and floors. The most frequent type of woodworm is the ‘Common Furniture Beetle’.
These are some of the general concerns, in terms of structural integrity, to look out for as a property developer or landlord. There’s always a solution to every problem, and if caught early enough most of these issues can be dealt with swiftly.
Nick Fox started his property investment career 10 years ago and his portfolio has grown to one of the largest in the UK. Nick now mainly focuses on HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) and works to help others achieve property success too. Visit here to find out how he can help you.
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