I’m buying a Victorian property, what type of survey do I need.
If you’re buying a Victorian property, it’s recommended to get a Building Survey, also known as a Full Structural Survey. This is a more in-depth survey that is suitable for older or more complex properties, and will provide a comprehensive report on the property’s condition, including details of any structural problems, as well as recommendations for repairs and upgrades.
A Building Survey will give you a better understanding of the property’s condition, including any potential issues with damp, electrical systems, and other components, as well as an estimation of the costs for any necessary repairs. This information can be helpful in negotiating the price of the property and in planning any renovations you may want to undertake.
How can you tell if a building is Victorian?
There are several architectural and historical clues that can help you determine if a building is Victorian:
- Age: Victorian architecture spanned from the late 1830s to the turn of the 20th century, so the age of the building is a good starting point.
- Style: Victorian architecture is characterized by its ornate, decorative features, such as elaborate mouldings, cornices, and stained glass. The style of the building can often be used to determine its era.
- Materials: Victorian buildings were often built with brick, stone, and decorative tiles, and often feature large windows, ornate doorways, and high ceilings.
- Plan form: Victorian buildings often have a specific plan form, such as an asymmetrical façade, a central entrance, and a bay window.
- Historical records: If the building has a known history, such as a plaque or designation as a historic site, this may provide evidence of its Victorian origins.
- Expert assessment: A professional architect or historian may be able to provide a more accurate assessment of the building’s era and style based on a thorough examination of its features and design elements.
Note that Victorian architecture was not limited to just one style, and can include Gothic Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, and other styles. Some buildings may have been built during the Victorian era but have undergone significant renovations or changes, so it is important to consider all of the available evidence to determine the building’s true origins.
Here is a guide to buying a Victorian building:
Research the history of the building: Find out about the building’s history, including any changes or renovations that have been made over the years. This can give you an idea of any potential issues and help you assess the building’s overall condition.
- Hire a surveyor: Have a professional surveyor inspect the building to assess its condition and identify any structural problems, dampness, or other issues.
- Check for planning permission: Ensure that any changes you want to make to the building are allowed by the local planning authority and that there are no restrictions on the property.
- Assess the cost of renovations: Before you buy the building, consider the cost of any necessary renovations, including repairs and upgrades to the heating, plumbing, and electrical systems.
- Consider energy efficiency: Consider the building’s energy efficiency and the potential cost savings from upgrading insulation and heating systems.
- Look into grants and funding: There may be grants and funding available to help with the cost of renovations, so research your options before making a purchase.
- Get a comprehensive building insurance policy: Ensure that you have a comprehensive insurance policy in place to protect your investment and cover the cost of any unexpected repairs.
By following these steps, you can make an informed decision about buying a Victorian building and be prepared for any challenges that may arise.
Are Victorian buildings worth buying?
Whether a Victorian building is worth buying depends on several factors, including the building’s condition, location, and your personal circumstances. Here are a few things to consider:
Character and charm: Victorian buildings are often known for their unique character and charm, including ornate features and high ceilings.
Location: The location of the building can greatly impact its value and desirability, especially if it is in a sought-after area.
Condition: The condition of the building is crucial, as it can affect its value and the cost of any necessary repairs or renovations.
Cost of renovations: Victorian buildings often require significant renovations, which can be expensive. Be sure to factor in the cost of upgrades to the heating, plumbing, and electrical systems, as well as any necessary repairs.
Energy efficiency: Victorian buildings are often not energy efficient, which can lead to high heating costs. Consider the cost of upgrading insulation and heating systems to improve energy efficiency.
Potential for rental income: If you’re interested in buying a Victorian building as an investment, consider the potential for rental income and the demand for rental properties in the area.
Ultimately, whether a Victorian building is worth buying will depend on your individual circumstances and goals. If you are willing to invest time and money into renovations and upgrades, and you appreciate the unique character and charm of these buildings, a Victorian building may be a worthwhile investment for you.
Is damp common in Victorian houses?
Yes, dampness is a common issue in Victorian houses. This can be due to several factors, including:
- Poor insulation: Victorian houses were often not built with insulation in mind, which can lead to dampness and water damage.
- Inadequate ventilation: Victorian houses often have poor ventilation, which can cause damp and mold growth.
- Lack of damp-proof courses: Many Victorian houses do not have damp-proof courses, which are designed to prevent moisture from entering the building from the ground.
- Old plumbing: The plumbing in Victorian houses may be outdated and prone to leaks, which can contribute to dampness.
- Heavy rainfall: Some areas with a high level of rainfall can also contribute to dampness in Victorian houses.
It’s important to address dampness in a Victorian house as soon as possible to prevent further damage and to improve the overall health and comfort of the building. This may involve fixing leaks, improving ventilation, and adding damp-proof courses or other moisture control measures.
Common defects in Victorian buildings:
Victorian buildings, like any older properties, can be susceptible to a range of defects and problems. Here are some of the most common issues found in Victorian buildings:
- Dampness: Dampness and condensation can be common problems in Victorian properties, particularly in basements and attics. This can cause damage to the walls, ceilings, and flooring, as well as create health problems for the occupants.
- Structural problems: Victorian properties often have large, heavy roofs and large windows, which can put a strain on the structure of the building. Structural problems can include cracks in the walls, subsidence, and movement in the foundations.
- Roofing issues: Victorian buildings often have complex roof structures, which can be difficult to maintain and repair. Roofing issues can include leaks, missing or damaged tiles, and damage to the timber structure.
- Plumbing and electrical systems: Victorian properties often have outdated plumbing and electrical systems, which can be dangerous and ineffective. These systems may need to be updated to meet modern safety standards.
- Pests: Victorian properties, particularly those with older timber frames, can be vulnerable to pests, such as termites and beetles, which can cause significant damage to the building.
- Decorative features: Victorian properties are known for their elaborate decorative features, such as stained glass, moldings, and cornices. These features can be costly to repair or replace, and may need to be protected as part of a heritage listing.
It’s important to have a comprehensive survey of the property before purchasing a Victorian building, to identify any potential issues and assess the cost of any necessary repairs. This will help you make an informed decision about the property and plan for any necessary renovations or upgrades.
Do Victorian houses have solid walls?
Many Victorian houses have solid walls, but not all. The construction materials used in Victorian houses vary, depending on the era and region in which they were built. Here are the most common types of wall construction found in Victorian houses:
Solid brick walls: Many Victorian houses have walls made of solid brick, which provides good insulation and durability.
Cavity walls: Some Victorian houses have cavity walls, which are constructed with two layers of brick with a gap in between. This type of wall construction was introduced in the late 19th century and is more common in later Victorian properties.
Stone walls: Some Victorian houses in rural areas or areas with a long history of stone construction may have walls made of stone.
Timber frame: Some Victorian houses, particularly in rural areas, may have walls made of timber frame with a brick or stone outer layer.
In general, Victorian houses built before the late 19th century are more likely to have solid walls, while those built after are more likely to have cavity walls. The type of wall construction can affect the insulation and energy efficiency of the building, as well as the cost and difficulty of making repairs or renovations.
How to pick a Building Surveyor for an old building:
When choosing a building surveyor for an old building, such as a Victorian property, it’s important to consider the following factors:
Experience and expertise: Look for a surveyor with experience and expertise in surveying older properties, as well as knowledge of the specific type of building you are buying (e.g. Victorian). Ask for references from previous clients and check the surveyor’s qualifications.
Type of survey: Make sure you choose the right type of survey for your needs. For example, if you are buying an old property, a full building survey may be more appropriate than a homebuyer’s report.
Independence: Choose a surveyor who is independent and not affiliated with any estate agents, builders, or property developers. An independent surveyor is more likely to give you an unbiased assessment of the property.
Communication skills: Look for a surveyor who is easy to communicate with and who is willing to answer your questions. The surveyor should also provide you with a clear and detailed report that explains any issues or defects with the property.
Cost: The fee should resemble the surveyors expertise and time. Smith Heritage do not produce off the shelf tick box reports. You get what you pay for.
It’s also a good idea to check for any professional associations the surveyor is a member of such as the RICS and to look for any professional indemnity insurance. This will provide you with additional protection in case of any errors or oversights in the survey.
We are specialists in surveys of Victorian and Edwardian Building’s. Please do get in touch for a quote or further information.