Room to Improve and the Pre-Purchase Survey

Many people who viewed Room to Improve on RTE 1 last night will be questioning why the clients bought a house that was in such poor condition. Indeed, many people on social media have been questioning whether or not the couple got a surveyor/engineer to carry out a pre-purchase survey before they bought the house. This is a very good question. Surely, any half decent surveyor/engineer would have picked up on the problems within the house?

Well, firstly it must be mentioned that all of the major problems within the house were well hidden and may not have been easy to identify. However, surely the overwhelming smell of dampness must have been a red flag for the surveyor/engineer carrying out the survey. Surely, the presence of the stench would have led them to request opening up works be carried out to assess the condition of the building fabric which were hidden. Also, surely the surveyor/engineer would have checked the attic space and would have been able to identify the rotten timber wall plates. There were so many red flags that any qualified surveyor/engineer would surely have been able to diagnose the defects within the building.

As it happened, the building was riddled with wet rot. In particular, the external stone walls which had been dry lined with timber stud and insulated were badly affected by the wet rot. Wet Rot is a fungus caused by timbers having high moisture content combined with poor ventilation. In the house which was subject of last night’s episode of Room to Improve, the Wet Rot was prevalent throughout the house. However, you would be forgiven for thinking that there was a demented monster living behind the walls with the way Dermot was describing the Wet Rot last night. In general, Wet Rot is actually not that serious, and is far less harmful than Dry Rot. Wet Rot is generally not harmful to one’s health or to the structure of a building, and can be easily eradicated.

Room to improve wet rot

Anyway, back to the point. I would have reservations as to whether the clients had a pre-purchase survey carried out by a qualified surveyor prior to buying the house. To think that you would purchase such an old building for over €350,000 without having a pre-purchase survey carried out is absolute madness. But the reality is that it happens every day. Many people don’t bother having a pre-purchase survey carried out before buying a house in order to save a few hundred euro. But just think of the money that it can save you in the long term. What is a few hundred euro in comparison to €350,000 and the additional €200,000 they spend renovating the house on last night’s show.

Having a pre-purchase survey carried out on a home before purchasing could be the smartest money you ever spend. It will either give you peace of mind that you are making the right decision, or it will stop you making the wrong decision before it is too late. I recently had a client who asked me to carry out a pre-purchase survey on a relatively new (less than ten years old) house in an estate. The client had already put a substantial deposit on the house but decided to have a pre-purchase survey carried out on the advice of their solicitor (solicitors will almost often advise this as part of good professional practice). The house in question looked perfect from the outside and inside it looked even better. However, on inspection I noticed that there were several issues with regard to compliance with building regulations, defects which had been covered up and poor workmanship. To the un-trained eye, these defects would not have been noticeable. But that is why we pay the professionals for services like these. I was able to flag a number of issues which many other people would never notice. As part of the pre-purchase survey report that I prepared following the inspection, I had to advise the client to withdraw from the purchase. The client, whilst obviously disappointed about the condition of the house, was delighted that I had identified these problems and was so they were able to withdraw from the purchase in time and receive a full refund of the deposit.

The moral of the story is, when buying a house or property, ALWAYS ask a qualified building surveyor to carry out a pre-purchase survey on your behalf. Even better, ask Diarmuid Keane + Associates to carry out a pre-purchase survey on your behalf. Diarmuid Keane + Associates carry out pre-purchase surveys through County Clare, Limerick, Galway, Kerry and other surrounding counties. Click here for more information on Diarmuid Keane + Associates Pre-Purchase Survey.

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