Real Cases Building Surveys

We measure Built Areas, compare them with official documents and advising on actions to be taken and potential risks.

Liaison with your lawyer if necessary during and after the report to protect client’s interests.

real-cases-building-surveys-hfp-management-barcelona-costa-brava-girona-begur-tamariu(From a Building Survey conducted in February 2016)
  • The external balustrade at the end of that lower terrace is not structurally safe and it should be stabilised or removed. It is not stable under small horizontal pressure and it would not prevent someone of falling to the embankment below. This is critical and it should be repaired 

There is also some subsidence on the stone paving of the lowest terrace due to the poor compacted fill or poor concrete base under the stone clad paving or because the lack of appropriate edge retaining wall. There seems to be also damage from the roots of the nearby tree. As it seems that the stone clad paving has been repaired previously, this indicates that it could well be an ongoing problem of subsidence of that terrace. The house is independent and it is not affected by this as this terrace seems to have been built at a later stage than the house.

From visual inspection it is noticed that the terrace and that balustrade is supported by a rockery acting as a retaining wall. Rockeries are usually done for retaining soft landscaping but it is not the ideal solution for rigid structures as flat terraces and balustrades. It is believed that this rockery is the cause of the subsidence and the loose balustrade as it moves.   This may lead to a mid – long term problems and it is recommended to change the rockery for a reinforced concrete retaining wall, fill and compact well against it and finish the terrace with the 10cm reinforced screed and finish tile / stone cladding. It is estimated that this would cost in the region of €25,000-30,000 (subject to project drawings, specification and quotations)”

My advice is to undertake a geotechnical survey with 3 points at the end terrace line.  This could cost € 1800 + IVA.  Then, based on that, design the structural solution.  If it is found that it can be done with shallow foundations and a 2m high retaining wall then the estimate would be reasonable, adding the cost of the survey (estimated €1800+IVA) and the technical project (estimated €5,000+IVA) and the building license (estimated € 750) .   

If the hard ground is found much deeper (we don’t know how much fill is in there) that it would result to a very high retaining wall with enormous footings, which would become out of proportion then the solution would be probably with micropiling, ground beams and a low rise retaining wall.  In this case I would increase my figure to € 50,000 + IVA (plus survey €1800+IVA) technical project (estimated 10,000+IVA) and building license (estimated €1500)”

(From a Building Survey conducted in March 2016)

 

  • “The load bearing walls and brick columns are casted into the ground with a minimal or practically any concrete foundation. The brickwork of the load bearing walls is in direct contact with the soil in some walls which produces the decay of the ceramic bricks in the long term. The bricks used would not comply with structural regulations today as they are hollow bricks instead of appropriate for loadbearing purposes. Although there are no cracks on the external walls indicating subsidence, it can be stated that the foundations and structure is of very poor quality. It is advised not to carry out any structural alteration on the house without dealing appropriately with the foundation first

(From a Building Survey conducted in June 2015)

  • There are currently three areas with signs of dampness for infiltration. One of them is at the kitchen ceiling by the chimney hood, just below the flat terrace of the top floor. The outlet grill is small for the size of the terrace which coupled with the lack of maintenance it may have caused the leak. It is recommended to remove the outlet box and the tiles around it and ensure the waterproofing membrane is well fixed and into the outlet box. If possible, it would be ideal to substitute it for a larger diameter outlet.

The second area of dampness for infiltration is at the corner ceiling of the ground floor bedroom, northern side, inside the recessed space for the curtains.   This may be related to the marks at the lower side of the wall at the bedroom above it (it is like a rising damp horizontal line on the plaster wall). It is difficult to establish the source of the dampness. It could be the sealing of the above terrace with the balcony door being defective or even if it was an appropriate sealing, this not being able to cope with the flooding that most surely occurred at the above terrace as a result of the grill being blocked by leaves.   Therefore, this terrace outlet is a critical element that needs to be maintained in a regular basis to avoid damp problems.    

The third area of evidence of water infiltration is at the lower part of the cupboard doors by the reception hall. The MDF is damaged because at one point or several times it got soaked. It is difficult to establish how the water could have got into that cupboard and the only explanation is that it is also related to the flooding of the above terrace.  

Although there is no signs of dampness at the back walls of the ground floor bedrooms which are half underground, it is recommended to check the waterproofing of the reinforced concrete wall, as after digging manually 15cm, it could not be seen. It is important to see that the waterproofing has been installed and if so, continue it up to meeting the render of the façade, so it is above the filled ground

(From a Building Survey conducted in February 2016)

 

  • This space below the terrace at the ground floor forms an air cavity between the ground slab floor and the original soil which is good to avoid rising damp.       However, at the back of the house (bedrooms, bathrooms and corridors) it is believed that the house sits directly with a layer of screed which is contact with the earth.       This is the source of the rising damp on the intermediate and perimeter load bearing walls that are in direct contact with the ground. The damp meter showed positive on rising damp even when the last six weeks have been unusually hot and dry. 

The garage building is also affected by dampness, from the terrace and walls. It is advised to replace the waterproofing membrane of the terrace o the garage and re-tile. It is also recommended to install a drain pipe at the perimeter of the building to prevent the walls getting damp from the torrential water coming down.

(From a Building Survey conducted in May 2015)

From visual inspection to the softwood frames of the some internal doors it can be stated that termites were present and had destroyed partially some of the frames. It is unknown if there is still activity as it was not possible to see powder in the floor nearby but this is something that need to be considered. Rising damp makes a good habitat for termites. It is recommended to carry out an ultrasonic test on the frames to rule out the presence of termites and take action from the result. This test would cost in the order of € 300+ IVA.

(From a Building Survey conducted in April 2015)

“There is a water storage tank above the ceiling of the kitchen (through the hatch) made of asbestos material. It is advised to cut off the water going to this tank and service the house directly from the network without going into the tank.       It is advised to remove the asbestos water tank by a specialised company with appropriate safety measures.”

(From a Building Survey conducted in June 2015)

“From the drain survey TV investigation it can be concluded that the property is connected to mains sewerage municipal network. Although the TV camera stopped at the basement pipework due to a sharp bend, there is evidence of the trench that connects the development with the drainage pipe under the street below. However it is recommended to build an inspection chamber / manhole at the basement (red dot marked on site and referred to in the Annex 1 – Pictures) as it is a matter of time for when the pipework will be blocked at that point. From the TV survey it was possible to see that toilet towels and other items were being accumulated in there as it is an intersection masonry box without much gradient. The type of manhole or inspecting chamber should be a water trap or with siphon so bad smell does not come into the house as it does now.       Although the bad smell could be because the house is not used and all individual water traps have been dried up, it would help to have a general smell trap constructed in the new inspection chamber.   It is estimated that this could be in the order of € 850 + IVA (subject to quotation)”

(From a Building Survey conducted in November 2015)

“The internal electrical installation, although working for the current use of the house, does not comply with current standards REBT. Some of the cabling is surface mounted, exposed and not complying and the main switchboard lacks of dedicated lines and devices. Should the house be modernized, it is recommended that it is fully rewired from the switchboard. It is recommended to relocate the switchboard to the main house from the guest house current location to the ground floor entrance of the main house and distribute the lines from there. It is estimated that this work could be in the order of €12000+ IVA including building work associated

(From a Building Survey conducted in September 2015)

As we also check official documents we find critical issues that are reported to both the potential purchaser and their lawyer

  • “As the pool does not appear in the Registry Deeds, we asked the vendor to provide us a “Certificat d’Antiguetat i Legalitat” from the Town Hall. This outlines the documental history of the propertyl, listing all licenses and whether there is any planning matter pending to be resolved. This was applied by the vendor’s agency but it will take a few days still to be provided. If the swimming pool was built later than the building, and it is a communal pool, it should appear as a separate building license.       Should it not appear, and the pool is communal, then it should be legalized and included in all other official documents. Check this with your legal advisor to make appropriate provisions in the pre contract agreement (Arras)”

(From a Building Survey conducted in October 2015)

 

  • “The house was built in 2009 according to the data in the Cadastro and the town hall awarded the Llicencia de Primera Ocupació on 21/06/2010. This is when the house is officially completed from the planning perspective       complying what was stated in the project and given licence for. The date of officially completion of the house is given by the Certificat Final d’ Obra signed by the Architect and Arquitecte Tècnic. This document was asked to the vendor‘s agent but was not provided. This is important as indicates the date that the 10 year responsibilities will expire.

Assegurança Desenal. This 10 year insurance on the structure of the building is compulsory to have for a professional developer to be able to sell a property unless the buyer waives it at the Notary. The vendor’s agent said that it will not be provided. It is recommended not to buy this property without this insurance being in place. This insurance should expire 10 years after the date of the Certificado Final de Obra. For avoidance of doubt, although this report comments on the structural condition of the property highlighting, if any, the structural defects or risks observed, it is not a substitution of the OCT and Insurance above described” 

(From a Building Survey conducted in April 2015)

 

  • “We asked the vendor for the latest minutes of the community meeting or the community deeds. According to the vendor’s agency, the community is not constituted as such as apparently all 4 houses belong to the same bank that repossessed them from the original developer. It is unknown how running costs of communal areas and installations and maintenance for pool and garden are being paid or whether there is maintenance company appointed.   We are waiting for the vendor’s agency to provide this information. Please check with your legal advisor on this”

(From a Building Survey conducted in May 2015)

“It will not be easy to connect to the municipal water network.  The municipal system works with gravity and it would not reach the Masia according to the conversation with the technical department in the Town Hall and having inspected the topographical maps. Therefore, to bring water to the masia would be very costly as it would need a small reservoir, a pumping station and a 1500m underground pipework.  This would require an appropriate engineering project, a building license by the town hall and adding rights of way to the crossing properties. On top of this statutory issues and associated costs there would be the costs of the construction which it could be in the order of €100,000 + IVA (subject to the project, specifications and procurement). At present the masia runs with rain water collection which is ok for private use if one feels like it, but not to comply with the regulations to run a B&B as you intend to.  In addition there would be the risk of potential claims for liability in case of a water related illness by your guests.

(From a Building Survey conducted in October 2015)

“With the current planning regulations, it is explicitly forbidden in this Zone 12 the residential use of any kind or any other building premises. The existing house can be used as a home only because it is already there and it was there before the Normes Subsidiaries. Therefore a license for opening a Establiment de Turisme Rural, which according to the Decret 313/2006 of 25th July from the Generalitat de Catalunya a B&B equivalent would fall into the category of Allotjament Rural- Masia as defined in Art 5, would not be given unless there is a change on the planning regulations (unlikely in the foreseen future). It would fail Point d of Art 7.2 of the Decreet313/2006”

(From a Building Survey conducted in October 2015)