Your Property & Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed can cause a multitude of issues if left un-treated. It can penetrate foundations and brickwork, underground services and affect drainage. You can see more about the problems caused by Japanese knotweed on our previous blog post here.

Identifying Japanese Knotweed

It has purple speckled stems and regular nodes much like bamboo. The stems to the leaves are zig-zag. The leaves are shaped like a shield and lush green. The rhizome or rootstalks will contain little white shoots.

It can be hard to tell if you are dealing with Japanese knotweed especially as there are closely related relatives. It is commonly confused with Giant knotweed and it’s hybrid. Confused? We don’t blame you. Here is a link to the Gov.UK website article on Japanese knotweed. There is a very informative guide that can be downloaded “How to identify Japanese knotweed“.

Spraying Japanese Knotweed With Chemicals

In an ideal world we wouldn’t have to use any harmful chemicals such as Glyphosate which is found in general weedkillers such as (Roundup).

This invasive species can be sprayed with chemicals as an effective treatment but great care should be taken. A specialist is recommended to carry out the knotweed control process. It can take over 3 years to get the underground rhizomes under control. Usually at the end the specialist will present you with a certificate showing that the knotweed poses no risks to the property. The chemicals required will be determined by the specialist.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency and National Parks & Wildlife Service have come together to compile an Invasive Species advice portal. You can use this excellent tool to get information on invasive species like knotweed here.

Property Surveyors NI

We carry out property surveys across Northern Ireland. We carry out a full property survey and don’t just survey certain issues. We look at everything and give you a good overview of the whole structure, reporting all issues found.

Contact Us or call Philip today on 07702 332 333. Our professional surveyors are always happy to be of service.

Loft Conversion Tips

Loft Conversion Tips

Thinking of doing a loft conversion? Here are some loft conversion tips and potential pitfalls to avoid.

According to the Home Owners Alliance a loft conversion can add up to 20% to the value of a property. We all know how stressful moving house can be. Then there are the problems associated with being stuck in a property chain. Utilising the loft can provide much needed extra space for a growing family while avoiding a chaotic move.

Make Sure Your Loft Is Suitable

So a loft conversion can add thousands to the value of your home – Great! First, you need to make sure your loft is suitable. The most common things to check are:

  • Headroom – Is the headroom there? There needs to be a height of 2.2m from the ceiling joists to the ridge. Your local building control office may have slightly different information on this.
  • Trussed or rafters (cut) roof – If your roof is made using rafters then it is much more ideal when converting a loft. Trusses have internal webs which hinder the internal space. Removing trusses and webs requires specialist knowledge and skill to ensure the roof remains sound.
  • Floor Area – there should be a minimum acceptable floor area to be able to create quality habitable rooms. A designer or architect will be able to help with this.
  • Pitch and obstacles – Your builder / architect will be able to advise on any issues with the roof pitch or obstacles such as services or chimney stacks.

It is never recommended to D.I.Y on a loft conversion. There are so many considerations such as electrics, plumbing, storage, natural light, loads / spans for the new floor and sound and fire safety requirements. A loft conversion will require specialist knowledge and building control approval. Although by all means, get stuck in and help out. If you know what you are doing there is no reason why you can’t strike a deal to do some of the works yourself, as long as you have the correct and most up to date information.

Do I need Planning Permission for a Loft Conversion?

You don’t normally need planning permission for a loft conversion as long as you are not extending the space or the roof past specified limits. Always check with your local council to be sure. You will always need building control though.

Building control can sometimes seem like “red tape” but it ensures the safety of the project. It helps ensure that your loft conversion is safe, and will not endanger the stability of your home. Good news for your home insurance.

Loft Conversions & Damp

Loft conversion are a popular upgrade across Northern Ireland. Many conversions were not completed to a high standard and have suffered damp issues. A Loft conversion requires plenty of ventilation behind the insulation. If this is hampered then damp can appear. There may be other problems that can cause damp in your loft conversion. We carry out building surveys across Northern Ireland including damp surveys.

If you require a building survey in Northern Ireland, Contact Us. We are always on hand to survey any property defects. We are a team of local Northern Ireland property surveyors. Call Philip on 07702 332 333 to book.

Benefits of Using An Independent Surveyor

Benefits of Using An Independent Surveyor

There are so many benefits of using an independent surveyor. We are working in your best interest and not the mortgage lender. When you are buying property the lender will arrange for a valuation survey to protect their interests. This report is not at all detailed and on many occasions does not pick up serious defects that a buyer would want to discover before buying.

Mostly, the valuation report will be carried out by in house staff or a partner company that has a relationship with the mortgage lenders. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this of course but there may be many reasons why you would prefer to have an independent qualified surveyor working for you.

Benefits of Using An Independent Surveyor

An Independent Surveyor is exactly that…Independent! We are a local independent team of property surveyors. We provide full building surveys across Northern Ireland and produce detailed and honest reports to help you. We can also provide you with independent advice on many issues that might crop up after having a property survey carried out. Our services will help you make important decisions based on our detailed and professional information. Contact Philip to find out more!

Contact Us or call Philip on 07702 332 333 today to book your Northern Ireland building survey.

Is A Property Valuation A Survey?

Property Valuation

The Residential Property Surveyors Association has called for an investigation into the advice given to potential purchasers regarding valuation surveys. The RSPA wanted steps put in place to make sure anyone borrowing money to buy property are informed that valuation reports are carried out to benefit the lender and that they are not a full survey.

Only 20% Get A Condition Survey

It is estimated that only 1 in every 5 people actually book an appropriate property survey. It is thought that the remainder actually think they are getting a survey as part of the valuation. Most people think that a valuation report is a property survey.

There are many articles reporting the horror stories about the many problems discovered by homeowners after buying property. Costs can run into tens of thousands of pounds to put right. Many people could have avoided such problems if they had a full survey carried out before the property purchase.

According to Which, they say that people who get a property survey carried out can save around £2000 on average off the asking price.

Book Your Local Property Surveyor Today!

For complete peace of mind, call us to book your full property survey. Don’t need a full survey! We can arrange a tailored survey to suit your needs. We carry out building surveys across Northern Ireland and can provide you with a professional surveyors report. Contact Philip on 07702 332 333 to find out more! Or visit our Contact Us page.

Insulating To Save Energy & Money

Insulating To Save Energy

In property, insulation is your friend. Insulation will help limit the amount of heat escaping from your building. This helps to cut energy bills. Ideally you want your central heating system running for the least amount of time. The building should be able to maintain a comfortable temperature if it is adequately insulated.

What Can You Do?

The easiest and cheapest thing to do is to install loft insulation. The recommended thickness is 270mm but if you can install more you should. It is estimated that around 25% of a buildings heat is lost through the roof. Loft insulation will go a long way to help reduce this.

Some businesses have a rather large roof area and there are specialist forms of insulation for these projects.

Most loft insulation is made from mineral wool. You should be careful when working with this material as it is not pleasant. Dust masks, eye protection and long sleeves should be worn. You can get natural sheeps wool and other much more pleasant forms of insulation if you prefer.

Cavity Wall Insulation

Properties in the UK (post 1920) usually have a cavity or air space in between the internal and external wall. Many years ago these spaces were not filled with anything.

Cavity wall insulation involves filling the void with an insulating material (commonly poly beads). This limits the amount of heat escaping. The internal wall will maintain a higher temperature and so the building will stay warmer for longer.

It is estimated that around 33% of heat is lost through the walls. There may be grants available for insulation installation. More information can be found on the NI Direct website.

Other Options

If you have a very old property that does not have cavity walls, don’t worry! You can opt for internal or external wall insulation. Usually older properties have beautiful stone work and so to cover over those with anything is not a great idea.

However you can install an insulated boards internally to help keep the property warm. To find out more about the various types of insulation available please see the Energy Saving Trust’s website.

Property Surveyors Northern Ireland

Care needs to be taken when installing insulation. If it has not been installed correctly it can lead to condensation and damp issues.

If you need a building survey in Northern Ireland then our team of independent surveyors can help you. Contact Philip on 07702 332 333 to book.

First Time Selling Property

First Time Selling Property

There is so much advice about buying your first home but what about your first time selling property? Like anything, the process of selling your property is easier if you know what to do.

Creating Something Beautiful

Do you ever scroll through Pinterest looking at the absolutely stunning rooms and designs from across the world. Many look like like they have come straight out of a magazine. It can be a great tool to use for inspiration.

It is worthwhile to make sure your home is ready for anyone who might want to come and view it. Making a great first impression is key. Depending on the potential purchaser’s style there are many different ways you can present your home to them.

Many love a warm and homely property rather than a cold and clinical style. Make sure that there is little clutter. It is extremely off putting if the rooms are untidy and messy. This makes it hard for people to imagine living there. If you get rid of the clutter and create the “Pinterest” look then many are much more likely to warm to the space.

It goes without saying, make sure that the property is in a good state of repair. If the gutters are hanging off and weeds growing out of the paving, this is sure to create a negative impact. We tend to be drawn to well kept properties. This is your “kerb appeal” and good kerb appeal is a must if you want to sell.

The Estate Agent

The Estate agent will help you with a valuation of your property. Bear in mind that they take the current condition into consideration. You should take a look at the various estate agents and what they offer for their fee. In Northern Ireland we have so many helpful estate agents to choose from. Most tend to offer similar services such as advertising your property on Property Pal and conducting all of the viewings etc.

Some estate agents may already have buyers waiting on your property coming onto the market especially it suits their requirements so its worth contacting them for a chat.

What About Fees?

There are many fees associated with selling a property. In fact this is what puts many people off selling. You should be ready and prepared for these and allow for them in your budget. If you are up sizing just remember not to get carried away with your offer on the new property. You need to keep money for these costs.

There will be estate agent fees, solicitor and legal costs and surveyors fees. Your home may need an EPC Certificate (Energy Performance Certificate). This tells a purchaser how energy efficient their potential new home is and what they can do to improve it.

Receiving Offers

It can be quite exciting when the estate agent calls with an offer. The offer may be bang on the asking price or it can fall very short. It is a good idea to sleep on any offer received, this gives plenty of time to consider the pros and cons of accepting the offer.

Accepting an offer will be subject to survey. A home buyers report will be carried out to make sure that the property is suitable for sale. This protects the buyer and mortgage company.

Any offer is not legally accepted until an exchange of contracts takes place. This means that your buyer can be outbid. Not a bad thing when you are selling as this results in a higher offer coming in. It can be unpleasant for the person that put in the first offer but it is a very common practice.

Looking for a Property Survey?

If you require an Energy Performance Certificate or a full property survey then we can help! We are your Northern Ireland independent team of local property surveyors. We work fast to get you the results you need to help you sell or purchase your property. Domestic and commercial, we offer a range of surveys to suit your requirements.

Contact Us today or call Philip on 07702 332 333!

Protect your Building from Fire

Protect your Building from Fire

When we witness disasters like the Grenfell Tower fire on the news it makes us stop and think about our own premises and what we might do to protect them. Not only should you protect your building from fire but life more importantly. In this post we will look at the common safety essentials that will help.

Smoke & Heat Detectors

The UK fire service recommend a smoke alarm in every room (except bathrooms). Individual circumstances may be different. Building control require mains powered alarms in all new buildings and refurb projects.

In the past, people have disconnected smoke alarms in their kitchen as they went off frequently. False alarms were caused by things like opening the cooker door or burning the toast. This is a major problem as a fire is likely to start in a kitchen. You should only fit heat detectors in the kitchen. They do not detect smoke particles like a standard smoke alarm, instead they sense an increase in heat (in line with that of a developing fire). This stops false alarms.

Heat detectors cover a small area so if you have a very large room then multiple interlinked heat detectors should be installed to cover the area properly.

It is a good idea to fit smoke alarms as close to the centre of the ceiling as possible. You should fit them above any large electrical appliances such as a bedroom TV.

Be careful where you buy your alarm(s). It has been reported in the news recently about fake smoke and CO2 detectors being sold on eBay and Amazon. Only buy from a reputable outlets. Read the article from Which here.

Kitchen The Most Dangerous Room

This goes without saying, the kitchen is the most dangerous room in a standard building. Some of the following advice might seem silly but many fires have been caused by similar incidents:

  • Switch the cooker off at the main switch when not in use.
  • Never leave pots unattended when cooking.
  • Always remove grease or fat from the oven and grill. This can catch fire.
  • Keep tea towels and loose clothing away from the hob.
  • Never leave children unattended in the kitchen when cooking.
  • Do not cook after drinking large amounts of alcohol, especially deep frying.
  • Oils are flammable, be careful when frying.
  • Always keep an eye when toasting, toasters can catch fire and usually spread to the kitchen cupboards. Always clean out the crumbs.
  • Never leave slow cookers on all day when out of the house. They are usually considered safe but better to be safe than sorry.

Electrical Goods

Electrical appliances cause tens of thousands of fires each year in the UK. The Grenfell Tower fire started in and around a fridge freezer on the 4th floor.

  • Never use cheap “multi socket adapters” bought from eBay or other sites. Most cheap manufactured sockets (often made in China) don’t meet British standards and are therefor unsafe. The connections inside can’t cope with high current devices such as a heater, kettle or toaster.
  • Don’t overload sockets, especially with high current devices such as kettles, toasters, tumble dryers or heaters.
  • It is always better to switch electrical items off overnight when not in use.
  • Visually Inspect plugs and wiring to make sure it is in good order.
  • Never use a higher amp rated fuse than is recommended. If the item does develop an electrical fault, the fuse will not blow as expected and may cause a fire.
  • Never leave mobile devices on the charge, especially at night.
  • When buying a fridge freezer, make sure it has the modern fire retardant backing or metal back rather than the plastic backing.

Candles & Scents

Candles are very popular. They create a lovely ambiance and scent in our home. However not only do they pollute your indoor air, they are a fire hazard. Candles are also responsible for too many house fires across Northern Ireland each year. The best advice is not to use them and buy the battery operated look alike candles. These are much safer and don’t give off any harmful chemicals.

Plug in air fresheners have caused many house fires across the UK and some new reports have labeled them to be carcinogenic. Best to ditch these and stick to natural scented products.

Reasons to Commission a Property Survey

House Survey Costs

It’s a brilliant feeling when you find your ideal property. Sometimes we overlook any flaws because it looks like our dream home but you should never ignore the condition of the building.

With fully qualified independent and professional property surveyors, you are in the right hands. We understand how important it is to identify any problems that could potentially cost you time and money. We have a suitable home buyers survey for you. Or you can ask for a more detailed building survey if you prefer.

Be In The Know

When you ask us to carry out a survey of the property, the report you receive will help you make a decision on the property purchase. Your property survey report may reveal structural problems or damp issues. Knowing about them may save you a huge headache or help reduce the asking price.

Property Price Negotiation

Who loves to haggle? If your too polite you could be loosing out! If our property survey identifies any problems then we will produce a report explaining what was found. Clients have previously been able to re-negotiate their purchase price to allow for repairs to be carried out. This helps secure your dream home with no worry of costly repairs to think about.

Guidance on Value

You should be aware of the price you are paying. Our surveys will pickup any issues that could affect the asking price. We also help you ensure the valuation is correct so you don’t end up paying too much.

You Can Rely On Us

Time to relax! We are on your side. When you instruct us to carry out a survey we are actively looking out for your best interests. We will send a professional property surveyor to thoroughly inspect the property. You will have an easy to understand report to give you that piece of mind so you can enjoy your new purchase.

Contact Us

Contact Us today. Call Philip on 07702 332 333 to book your Northern Ireland property survey.

Is Cavity Wall Insulation Worth It?

Is Cavity Wall Insulation Worth It?

Have you ever wondered, is cavity wall insulation worth it? Or how do I even go about it? Is it safe? Does it cause damp? We will give you an overview in this post!

Cavity Wall Insulation

Modern properties in Northern Ireland are usually built from brick considered a standard construction. Between two layers of brick will be a cavity where insulation will be placed. Many older properties either do not have a cavity at all or a cavity with nothing inside.

Cavity wall insulation will help keep your walls warmer. It acts like a blanket to reduce heat escaping from the walls in your home. In the UK the insulating properties are usually measured in w/m2. The overall performance is measured in U value (Thermal Transmittance). This is a sum of the thermal resistances of all the layers of the building. The lower the U value the better insulated the property. Northern Ireland building control will be particularly interested in a new building’s U value. You can learn more about U value on a Kingspan post here.

Empty Cavity Walls

It was only around the 1920’s until houses were built with empty cavity walls. This new way of building was brought in to try to limit the amount of water penetrating through solid walls. Some houses may have had them before this. This was the case right up until the 1980’s. The building regulations were then updated to state that new houses had to have some insulation inside the cavity.

Some houses today though only have a small amount of cavity wall insulation. There are many companies out there who will recommend filling the entire cavity. This is usually done using grey beads designed not to bridge any damp from the outer wall. But care needs to be taken as every property is different.

Cavity Wall Information NI Direct

The NI Direct website gives an excellent overview on many forms of insulation here. If you are on a low income or certain benefits there may be a possibility of Government help in the form of grants. Check out the NI Direct website to check the details.

Does Cavity Wall Insulation Cause Damp?

Many years ago there were reports that cavity wall insulation caused serious damp problems. The majority of complaints seem to point to “blown fiber wool” which tends not to be used anymore. Now a poly bead bonded with glue is used. Some people have reported issues and others have not had any issues at all. There are certain areas like coastal regions that require a certain type of insulation. It is good to question your cavity wall supplier on this and get a guarantee.

Building Surveys Northern Ireland

We are an independent team of professional property surveyors operating across Northern Ireland. Do you have damp issues? Are you worried that insulation may be causing damp? Or do you simply want a full property survey carried out on your property for peace of mind. Contact Us today or call Philip on 07702 332 333 to book. We are always happy to help!

Damp or Do I Need an Extractor Fan?

Do I Need an Extractor Fan

The Northern Ireland climate is usually very damp. We tend to get lots of cool weather and rain which can lead to us spending a large amount of time indoors. An extractor fan is a must in the modern home to remove stale damp air. Many people still don’t have them and often ask the question Do I Need an Extractor Fan?

Extractor Fans & Damp

Do you ever take a hot shower and notice the steam that fills the bathroom? This steam is water droplets or moisture that is in the air. You may notice condensation on the windows or mirrors especially if it is cold outside. This moisture can create a damp environment that can lead to mould growth.

An extractor fan works to “pull” this damp air out of the bathroom to disperse it outside the home. The moist air is replaced with fresh air from elsewhere in the property. This means there is less chance of the moisture having time to condense on the internal walls and windows.

Improving Air Quality

Extractor fans will improve air quality by removing stale air, steam, cooking smells and airborne chemicals such as aerosols from your home. They also get the air moving within the building which helps lead to a healthier environment.

However, it is very important that your extractor fan has a feed of fresh air. Usually the fresh air comes from natural gaps in door seals and window vents. If your home is air tight it may pose a danger. If you have an open fire or stove you should have an air vent in that room (usually a 4″ hole or air brick). This will ensure that the extractor fan does not pull the air down the chimney along with fumes and Carbon Monoxide. Every home needs adequate ventilation.

Still Have Damp? Ask About Our Damp Surveys

If you are experiencing damp, mould or mildew problems in your home or commercial premises we can help. If you are not be sure what is causing the problem we can conduct a building survey. We carry out property surveys across Northern Ireland daily. We will provide you with an easy to understand report that will identify problems and help offer cost effective solutions.

Call the experts to book your property survey. Speak to Philip on 07702 332 333. We are always happy to help!