Broken stone, gravel or sand used with cement to form concrete.
Aggregates may be coarse or fine and are often used in the construction
of “soakaways”.
A perforated brick built into a wall for the purpose of providing air for
ventilation purposes. Used for instance, to ventilate the underside of a
wooden floor or a roof space.
A moulding around a doorway or window opening. It usually covers the
joints between the frame and the wall finish, thus hiding any shrinkage
gaps that may occur.
Material used in the past for insulation. Can sometimes be a health
hazard – specialist advice should be sought if asbestos (especially blue
asbestos) is found.
Asbestos Cement
Cement mixed with 15% asbestos fibre as reinforcement. Fragile – will
not usually bear heavy weights. Hazardous fibres may be released if cut
or drilled.
Black, tar-like substance designed to be impervious to moisture. Used on
flat roofs and floors.
Barge Board
See “Verge Board”.
Balanced Flue
Common metal device normally serving gas appliances that allows air to
be drawn to the appliance whilst also allowing fumes to escape.
A post or vertical pillar supporting a handrail or parapet rail.
A collective name for a row of balusters or other infilling below a handrail
on a stair or parapet.
Beetle Infestation
(Wood boring insects e.g. woodworm). Larvae of various species of
beetle can tunnel into timber causing damage. Specialist treatment
normally required. Can also affect furniture.
Shaped concrete slope beside drainage channel with an inspection
chamber. Also known as “haunching”.
Black, sticky substance, similar to asphalt. Used in sealants, mineral felts
and damp proof courses.
A natural process affecting the outer layer of concrete.
reinforcement within that layer is liable to early corrosion, with consequent
fracturing of the concrete in some cases.
Casement Window
A window composed of hinged, pivoted or fixed sashes.
Cavity Wall
Filling of wall cavities by one of various forms of insulation material:
Beads: Polystyrene beads pumped into the cavities. Will easily fall out if
the wall is broken open for any reason.
Foam: Urea formaldehyde foam, mixed on site, and then pumped into the
cavities where it sets. Can lead to problems of dampness and make
replacement of wall-ties more difficult.
Fibreglass: Inert material fibre pumped into the cavity
Cavity Wall Tie
A twisted piece of metal or similar material bedded into the inner and
outer leaves of cavity walls intended to strengthen the wall. Failure by
corrosion can result in the wall becoming unstable – specialist
replacement ties are then required.
A simple method of drain comprising a holding tank that needs frequent
emptying. Not to be confused with “septic tank”.
Often referred to as “particle board”. Chips of wood compressed and
glued into sheet form. Cheap method of decking to flat roofs, floors and
(with Formica or melamine surface) furniture, especially kitchen units.
Cleaning Eye
Sometimes known as an “access eye” or “rodding eye”. An opening in a
drain or ventilation pipe, covered by a plate, the removal of which allows
the drain to be rodded to clear blockages.
Walling of damp earth or clay usually mixed with small stones and straw
and compressed without reinforcement into blocks. Sometimes it is
rammed into formwork. This cheap method of walling has in the past
been practised mainly in East Anglia and the West of England.
Collar Beam
A horizontal tie beam of a roof, which is joined to opposing rafters at a
level above that of the wall plates.
Horizontal timber member designed to restrain opposing roof slopes.
Absence, removal or weakening can lead to roof spread.
Combination Boiler
Modern form of gas boiler that activates on demand usually within a
pressurised system. With this form of boiler there is no need for water
storage tanks, hot water cylinders etc.
Coping/Coping Stone
Usually stone or concrete, laid on top of a wall as a decorative finish and
designed to stop rainwater soaking into the wall.
Projection of stone, brick, timber or metal jutting out from a wall to support
a weight above it.
A large moulding at the junction between an inside wall and a ceiling.
Can also include a moulding at the top of an outside wall designed to
project and throw raindrops clear of the wall.
Curved junction between wall and ceiling.
Dado Rail
A wooden moulding fixed to the wall or capping panelling and forming the
topmost part of a dado. Originally designed to avoid damage to the wall
where people or furniture brushed against it.
Damp Proof Course
(or DPC)
Layer of impervious material (mineral felt, pvc etc) incorporated into a wall
and designed to prevent dampness rising up the wall or lateral dampness
around windows, doors etc. Various proprietary methods are available for
damp-proofing existing walls including “electro-osmosis” and chemical
Deathwatch Beetle
(Xestobium Rufovillosum). Extremely serious insect pest that attacks
structural timbers. Usually effects old hardwoods with fungal decay
already present.
Double Glazing
A method of thermal insulation usually either:
Sealed unit: Two panes of glass fixed and hermetically sealed together; or
Secondary: In effect a second “window” positioned inside the original
Double Hung Sash
A window in which the opening lights slide vertically within a cased frame,
counter balanced by weights supported on sash cords which pass over
pulleys in the frame.
Dry Rot
(Serpula Lacrymans). A very serious form of fungus that attacks
structural and joinery timbers, often with devastating results. Can flourish
in moist, unventilated areas.
The overhanging edge of a roof.
Powdery white salts crystallized on the surface of a wall as a result
of moisture evaporation.
Engineering Brick
Particularly strong and dense type of brick often used as a damp
proof course in older buildings.
Cheap, lightweight board material of little strength, used in ceilings
or as insulation to attics.
Building technique designed to prevent leakage at a roof joint.
Normally metal (lead, zinc, copper) but can be cement, felt or
proprietary material.
A cement mortar weathering on the top of a chimneystack
surrounding the base of the chimney pots to throw off the rain and
thus prevent it from saturating the stack.
A smoke duct in a chimney, or a proprietary pipe serving a heatproducing appliance such as a central heating boiler.
Flue Lining
Metal (usually stainless steel) tube within a flue – essential for high
output gas appliances such as boilers. May also be manufactured
from clay and built into the flue. Other proprietary flue liners are
also available.
Normally concrete, laid underground as a structural base to a wall;
in older buildings these may be brick or stone.
An indention, usually V shaped in the bedding face of the brick so
reduces its weight. “Frog down” or “Frog up” are the generally
accepted ways of describing how the brick are laid.
Upper section of a wall, usually triangular in shape, at either end of a
ridged roof.
Ground Heave
Swelling of clay sub-soil due to the presence of moisture: can cause
an upward movement of foundations in extreme cases.
An opening into which rain and waste water are collected before
entering the drain.
A channel along the eaves of a roof or the edge of a path for the
removal of rainwater.
Broken bricks or stone which, consolidated, are used as a
foundation in extreme cases.
See “Benching”. Also term used to describe the support of a drain
The external junction between two intersecting roof slopes.
Hip Tile
A saddle shaped or angular tile fitting over the intersection of those
roofing tiles that meet a hip.
In Situ
“In position” – applied to work done in the position where it is finally
required, e.g. concrete may be precast in sections that are later
taken to the position where they are required or it may be cast “in
Inspection Chamber
Commonly called the “man-hole”: access point to a drain
comprising a chamber (of brick, concrete or plastic) with the
drainage channel at its base and a removable cover at ground level.
Vertical side face of a doorway or window.
A timber or steel beam directly supporting a floor and sometimes
alternatively or additionally supporting a ceiling. Steel beams are
usually referred to as RSJs (rolled steel joists).
The roughness of a surface that provides a bond for any application
of paint, plaster, rendering, tiles etc or spaces between laths or wire
meshes that provide a grip for plaster.
Downhill movement of unstable earth, clay, rock etc often following
prolonged heavy rain or coastal erosion, but sometimes due to subsoil having poor cohesion.
Thin strip of wood used in the fixing of roof tiles or slates, or as
backing to plaster.
Mixture of sand, cement, water and sometimes lime used to join
stones or bricks.
Vertical bar dividing individual lights in a window.
Stout post supporting a staircase handrail at top and bottom. Also,
the central pillar of a winding spiral staircase.
Rough concrete below timber ground floors.
Low wall along the edge of a roof, balcony etc.
Parapet Gutter
A timber gutter of rectangular cross-section usually provided with a
flexible metal or other impervious lining. Used behind a parapet or
sometimes at a valley.
A vertical column of brickwork or other material, used to strengthen
the wall or to support a weight.
Stiff “sandwich” of plaster between coarse paper. Now in
widespread use for ceilings and walls.
Outer edge of mortar joint between bricks, stones etc.
Powder Post Beetle
(Bostrychidae or Lycctidae family of beetles). A relatively
uncommon pest that can, if untreated, cause widespread damage to
structural timbers.
Horizontal beam in a roof upon which rafters rest.
The external angle of a building; or specifically, bricks or stone
blocks forming that angle.
A sloping roof beam, usually timber, forming the carcass of a roof.
Random Rubble
Basic early method of stone wall construction with no attempt at
bonding or coursing.
Vertical covering of a wall either plaster (internally) or cement
(externally), sometimes with pebbledash, stucco or Tyrolean
textured finish.
The side faces of a window or door opening.
The highest part or apex of a roof, usually horizontal.
Ridge Tile
A specially shaped tile for covering and making weather tight the
ridge of a roof. These tiles may have a rounded or angular crosssection.
The vertical part of a step or stair.
Rising Damp
Moisture soaking up a wall from below ground, by capillary action
which can cause rot in timbers, plaster decay, decoration failure etc.
Roof Spread
Outward bowing of a wall caused by the thrust of a badly restrained
roof framework (see “Collar”).
Frequently used abbreviation for a rolled steel joist.
Final, smooth finish of a solid floor; usually cement, concrete or
Septic Tank
Drain installation whereby sewage decomposes through the action
of bacteria, that can be slowed down or stopped altogether by the
use of chemicals such as bleach, biological washing powders etc.
All properties settle to some extent, and this can show as cracking
and/or distortion in walls. Very often minor settlement is not of great
significance to the building as a whole.
A large, underground pipe or drain used for conveying waste water
and sewage. The Local Authority is usually responsible for the
sewers that collect the effluent from various drains, the drains being
the responsibility of the landowners.
Naturally occurring cracks in timber; in building timbers, shakes can
appear quite dramatic, but strength is not always impaired.
Small rectangular slabs of wood used on roofs instead of tiles,
slates etc.
A pit, filled with broken stones etc below ground to take drainage
from rainwater pipes or land drains and allow it to disperse.
Piece of flexible metal fitted to interlock with slates or tiles and make
a watertight joint between a wall and a roof or at a hip or valley.
Stepped flashings are used over the soakers at a joint against a wall.
The underside of an arch, beam, staircase, eaves or other feature of
a building.
Soil Pipe/Soil Stack
A vertical pipe that conveys sewage to the drains. Its upper end is
usually vented above the eaves.
Solid Fuel
Heating fuel, normally wood, coal or one of a variety of proprietary
Space above and to the sides of an arch; also the space below a
A valve on a gas or water supply pipe that is used to cut off the
Stud Partition
Lightweight, sometimes non load-bearing wall construction
comprising a framework of timber faced with plaster, plasterboard or
other finish.
Ground movement, generally downward, possibly a result of mining
activities or failure of the sub-soil.
Soil lying immediately below the topsoil.
Sulphate Attack
Chemical reaction, activated by water, between tricalcium aluminate
and soluble sulphates that can cause deterioration in brick walls and
concrete floors
Tie Bar
Metal bar passing through a wall, or walls in an attempt to brace a
structure suffering from structural instability.
Mortar applied on the underside of roof tiles or slates to help prevent
moisture penetration. Not necessary when a roof is under drawn
with felt.
Horizontal bar of wood or stone across a window or top of door.
The horizontal part of a step or stair.
Trussed Rafters
Method of roof construction utilising prefabricated triangular
framework of timbers. Now widely used in domestic construction.
Method of strengthening weak foundations whereby a new, stronger
foundation is placed beneath the original.
Valley Gutter
Horizontal or sloping gutter, usually lead or tile-lined, at the internal
intersection between two roof slopes.
Necessary in all buildings to disperse moisture resulting from
bathing, cooking, breathing etc and to assist in prevention of
Floors: Necessary to avoid rot, especially dry rot; achieved by
airbricks near to the ground level.
Roofs: Necessary to disperse condensation within roof spaces;
achieved either by airbricks in gables or ducts at the eaves.
The edge of the roof, especially over a gable or around a dormer
window or skylight.
Verge Board
Timber, sometimes decorative, placed at the verge of a roof; also
known as “barge board”.
Wall Plate
Timber placed at the eaves of a roof, designed to take the weight of
the roof timbers and coverings.
Wall Tie
See “Cavity Wall Tie”.
Waste Pipe
A pipe from a wash hand basin, sink or bath to carry away the waste
water into the drains.
Weather Boarding
Horizontal overlapping boards nailed on the outside of a building to
provide the finished wall surface.
Wet Rot
(Coniophora Puteana). Decay of timber due to damp conditions. Not
to be confused with the more serious dry rot.
Colloquial term for beetle infestation: usually intended to mean
Common Furniture Beetle (Anobium Punctatum): by far the most
frequently encountered insect attack in structural and joinery
Appendix: Fire Safety Advice & Home Security
Loss of life and property damage due to fire is a serious problem in
residential property. Around 500 people die each year from these fires.
70% of these are trapped by fire and smoke before they have time to
escape. Each year over 11,000 people are injured by fires.
Statistics show that elderly or disabled people are more likely to suffer
injury due to their restricted mobility in the event of fire. Young children
are similarly vulnerable.
Matches and cigarette lighters should be kept out of reach of children,
who should be made aware of the danger of fire and the effects of smoke
inhalation. Where appropriate you should discuss a fire escape plan with
The use of candles and supplementary lighting causes many fires. You
should avoid naked flames in bedrooms and never smoke in bed.
Nightwear and bedding should be of fire retardant material.
Many accidental fires occur in kitchens or utility rooms. These rooms are
often compartmented. Fires in hallways or on landings are potentially
more serious as these are normally escape routes to safety. You should
avoid the use of portable heaters in the hallway and ensure that stairs
and halls are kept free of stored articles.
Inflammable liquids should be stored in a cool, safe place (out of sunlight)
in clearly labelled containers.
You should not have bonfires close to buildings; refuse receptacles,
sheds, boundary fences, trees, shrubs etc.
Many fires are caused by damaged or defective appliances or where
appliances have been left unattended.
Where gas and electric heaters and appliances are included in the sale
their age, safety and serviceability should be verified by an appropriately
qualified contractor prior to use.
Appliances should be correctly and regularly maintained and used.
Ideally they should never be left in operation at night or whilst you are
Fires can be caused by faults both in electrical appliances and in the
wiring supply to them. The electrical system and wiring should ideally be
tested by a suitably qualified contractor prior to use to ensure that no
dangerous or non-confirming adaptations are in existence and to ensure
that the systems and fittings are properly earthed. Any adaptations
should be undertaken by a qualified Electrician and fuses in plugs should
be of the correct rating.
Electric blankets should not be connected to multi adaptors to reduce the
risk of accident. Such fittings should be checked regularly and replaced if
impact damaged or worn.
Appendix: Fire Safety Advice & Home Security
It is estimated that two thirds of domestic cooking fires occur on electric
cookers. You should always double check that cookers are switched off
when not in use. If you have a gas cooker ensure that controls are fully
turned off before leaving the appliance.
Chip pans should never be left unattended. Each year these fires cause
5,000 injuries.
Fire Control
Ideally a proper fire blanket, suitable for putting out a chip pan, waste
bin, cooker top and clothing fires should be kept in the kitchen.
Kitchen fire extinguishers are easy to use and may be suitable for putting
out small oil, grease or material fires at an early stage. Only carbon
dioxide type fire extinguishers should be used on live electrical
equipment or liquid fires.
Open Fires
and Heaters
A suitable fireguard should always be available not only for open fires
but for other fires and heaters in the home where there are young
children. The appropriate fuel should always be used.
Clothing, newspapers, or other inflammable materials should never be
places near to or lay on top of fireguards and heaters. Do not place a
clotheshorse near a fire or cooker.
Chimneys should be swept prior to use and regularly thereafter. Flues
should ideally be lined to prevent the escape of the flue gases heat and
smoke. Flues to boilers or water heaters should be kept free of
obstruction both to prevent blockage and combustion.
Rooms in which permanent fires and heating appliances are fitted or
placed should ideally be permanently ventilated to prevent the entry or
build up of deadly carbon monoxide or fumes within the enclosed space.
(See also Maintenance Advice Notes).
Portable heaters should be kept away from furniture or other combustible
materials such as clothes or curtains. Do not stand portable heaters
where they could be knocked over.
and Fittings
Be aware if old furniture or curtains are left as part of the sale.
Upholstered furniture purchaser after 1990 is required by law to be
resistant to ignition from burning cigarettes and matches. Older furniture
of this nature is known to be highly combustible and give off large
amounts of smoke and toxic fumes.
The Building
Walls, ceilings and doors in modern houses constructed in accordance
with current Building Regulations are designed to reduce or limit the
spread of fire and to provide time to escape in the event of fire in the
Any alterations or extension to an existing building should be in
accordance with Part B1 of current Building Regulations, which
particularly relates to fire safety issues. There is however no requirement
to upgrade existing buildings except in certain circumstances, for
example in application to “houses in multiple occupations”.
Appendix: Fire Safety Advice & Home Security
Ideally each habitable room, i.e. bedrooms or living accommodation
should open directly on to a hallway or stair leading to an exit from a
building, or have a window or door through which an escape can be
With taller buildings more complex provisions are needed because
escape through upper floor windows becomes increasingly hazardous.
For example if there are floors more than 7.5 meters above ground level
it is necessary to protect the internal staircase against fire.
Loft Conversions
Building Regulation approval is required for the conversion of the loft
area in an existing two or more storey structure. Approval is not only
required for structural alterations. There are significant requirements for
fire safety and means of escape.
Ideally the floor/ceiling partition should be upgraded to provide at least 30
minutes of standard fire resistance.
Special requirements apply to integral garages and it is normal that
ceilings, walls and doors are upgraded to provide additional fire
resistance. Any wall or floor between a garage and a house should
ideally have at least 30 minutes of fire resistance. Any opening in a hall
from the garage should be at least 100mm above the garage floor level
with a 30 minute fire door. Should you require further advice you should
contact the local Building Inspector.
A basement with habitable rooms such as a bedroom should have an
alternative means of escape. Smoke and fumes rise and there is a
danger that people escaping from a fire in a basement would move into a
lethal layer of smoke or heat if they have to use an inner stair.
Flats and
Special provisions apply to buildings in multiple occupation and there
may be a requirement for the landlord, owner, head lessee, or occupier to
install fire/smoke detection equipment of fire alarms. The building may
be required to comply with fire regulations with regard to fire resistance
and protected stairways, openings in walls and provision of alternative
means of escape.
Where an existing house or building has been converted into flats in the
past, and has timber floors, it is unlikely to provide the standard fire
protection for newly built or recently converted flats constructed or altered
under existing regulations.
Fire Escape
You should always be aware of your route or means of escape from any
room in the event of fire in a building. In some cases it may be
necessary to provide an escape ladder.
A room whose only escape route is through another room is at risk if a
fire starts in that other room. Open plan layouts can therefore be
potential high-risk areas as there is no fire compartmentation.
If your home is designed so that the stairs come directly down into the
living room or kitchen without the separation of a door, a fire occurring
downstairs could prevent the easy escape of people upstairs.
Appendix: Fire Safety Advice & Home Security
Windows &
External Doors
Ideally windows necessary for escape purposes should have
unobstructed openings. If a non-opening window is the only means of
escape, e.g. in an older style terraced house with a central staircase
where the means of escape is through a window, in such cases ensure
that the glazing is not of toughened or laminated glass to enable it to be
broken easily.
Suitable fire doors and self-closing hinges should be fitted where
Security should not comprise safety. There should still be a safe and
speedy means of escape in the event of fire.
Smoke Alarms. A newly built house, or newly converted home where
Building Regulations approval is required, must be fitted with mains
powered smoke alarms.
There is no statutory requirement for the installation of smoke detectors
in existing dwellings unless the building constitutes part of a larger
property which requires a Fire Certificate under the Fire Precautions Act
1971. However to minimize risk of fatality, you should also ensure that
smoke detectors are fitted in older property as required by modern
Smoke alarms require careful sitting, usually at the highest point of a
circulation area, to alert occupants to the presence of smoke in escape
routes. Battery operated smoke alarms are relatively inexpensive to
purchase and easy to install and maintain.
More than one alarm can be fitted to cover different parts or floors or the
circulation or escape route and in high-risk areas such as the kitchen.
At least one smoke alarm should be fitted on each level of the house.
Ideally sited on the ceiling of the hall and landings. Ideally one should be
installed to each room except in the kitchen, bathroom and garage or in
areas likely to experience extreme heat or cold.
Over a third of smoke alarms are inoperable due to the fact that batteries
have either been removed or expired. You should ensure, therefore, that
batteries are working and never temporarily remove them. Consideration
should be given to installing a long lasting 10 year smoke alarm with
sealed and tamper proof battery cells.
Smoke alarms should be to British Standard 5446 Part 1 and carry the
standard kite mark. Batteries should be changed regularly and the
alarms tested periodically.
Interconnect able smoke alarms can be used to ensure that everybody in
the house can hear the alarm. In larger properties consideration should
be given to the installation of an integrated fire alarm system.
Fire Escape Plan
You have the best chance of surviving a fire if you are prepared for it.
If you are woken by your smoke alarm or by a sound which you think is a
fire then STOP, THINK ACT.
Appendix: Fire Safety Advice & Home Security
Wake up all members of your family and make your way out together
through the nearest exit. Do not investigate the fire and only open doors
if you need to escape through them.
Once everybody is outside call the Fire Service. Stay out of the house
until the Fire Officer tells you that it is safe to return.
If for any reason you cannot use the normal way out the following course
of action should be used:
Smoke can be deadly so, if you have to, crawl under it.
Gather the family into a room where it is safe to drop from a window,
either onto a flat roof or into the garden.
Have the children passed down, never leave them until last. Do not jump
but lower yourself to arms length then drop.
If you find yourself trapped by smoke and cannot escape do the
Block up any gaps around the doors into the roof using spare clothing,
towels, or blankets. This prevents smoke from entering.
If you have a telephone in the room call the fire service or alternatively go
to the window and shout for help. Wait for assistance.
Loft insulation should be of a non-combustible material. Expanded
polystyrene insulation material will react with and cause the breakdown of
PVC coating of electrical wiring. Wires become exposed and fires may
result. All such material should be removed.
Building Regulations 1991 Part B1 (2000 Edition).
“Fire Safety in the Home” and related correspondence issued by the
Home Office.
“BRE Digest 388 (November 1933) issued by the Building Research
Establishment, Garston, Watford WD2 7UR.
Security is becoming an increasingly important issue with properties and provisions for
security measures may have a bearing on your contents insurance policy.
The following information is provided on home security to help you make your property more
secure. There is always a possibility that you could be locked out of your house. Perhaps
the first things that cross our mine, is what is the easiest way in. This is often the train of
thought followed by most burglars. If you have any concerns about crime prevention, we
suggest you contact your local Crime Prevention Officer who can often be contacted by a
local police station.
Here is some further information to assist you and hopefully make your life easier in your new
Appendix: Fire Safety Advice & Home Security
1. Use recognised trades people
We suggest that you use local trades people, preferably those allied to professional
bodies or associations; recommendations are also useful.
2. Keys
Ensure that you know where all the keys are for the property. We suggest that upon
occupation of a new property you have the locks changed on the same day that you
move in. The reason that we suggest this is that in most houses have looked around the
property. We feel that viewing empty houses and taking a copy of keys is always a good
opportunity for future burglars.
3. Insurance
You need to ensure that your home insurance begins on the day that you move in.
4. Belongings
You should ensure that all your valuable belongings are kept in a safe place on the day of
the move.
5. Removal Van
You should ensure that the removal van is kept secure and that it carries adequate
insurance in the unfortunate event that it is stolen.
6. Windows
A third of all break-ins occur through a rear window. Easily visible key operator locks
could deter some thieves. Most DIY shops sell many varieties of patented locks. You
need to be aware of the following:
All downstairs windows that can be seen from the street should have a window lock
fitted, particularly those that are accessible from single storey or a flat roof.
Skylights are often vulnerable. Remember a thief can get through any gap, it only
needs to be about 14 ins square.
Louvre windows are also vulnerable. It is definitely a good idea to have these
strengthened or provide additional security measures.
Doors. Make sure that external and internal doors are fitted with good quality locks
and bolts top and bottom. Ideally the door should be solid core and at least 44mm
Glass panels are often vulnerable so it is a good idea to replace them with laminated
or toughened glass. Alternatively, consider using a different type of door altogether.
Fit 5-lever mortice locks. Make sure that all doors are dead-locked where dead-locks
are fitted.
Fit tower bolts or integral bolts to the doors at top and bottom.
Appendix: Fire Safety Advice & Home Security
Obtain specialist advice for security locks for patio doors.
If you are buying new PVC windows or doors, you should make sure they come with
built-in locks and also carry a recognised certificate, such as a BBA Certificate.
Further advice on Home Security is available from your Crime Prevention Officer. You
need to be aware that the cost of a burglar alarm is relatively inexpensive and may also
give you a slight reduction on your insurance policy. You should always check with your
Insurance Company if there are any particular home requirements that will reduce your
policy as discussed above, burglar alarms.
We hope the above information is sufficient to make your life in your new home much easier.
Your home represents a very considerable financial investment and it makes good sense to
keep it in good order. Regular checks of various parts of the building and prompt
maintenance can pay dividends in preventing potentially more serious and costly repairs.
The following checklist is not intended to be definitive or fully comprehensive but is intended
to be a simple easy to follow maintenance guide.
Roof slopes and coverings, for example tiles, slates – particularly after severe weather
conditions check for slipped, cracked or badly damaged tiles/slates.
Cement pointing at the roof edges. Make sure that this is kept in good condition.
Remove lichen and other moss growth from tiles/slates if this becomes heavy.
Flat roofs, normally covered in felt or metal are prone to defects. Felt in particular has
a limited life. Whenever possible try to avoid walking or standing ladders on flat roofs
as the coverings can be very easily damaged.
Check flashings and valley gutters or hidden gutters for blockages and leaks. Valley
gutters are particularly prone to defects and should be cleaned out at regular intervals.
Make sure that the chippings to your flat roof remain evenly laid and clear away any
heavy moss or lichen growth as this can retain moisture.
Keep chimney pots and cowls in good order and ensure that the brickwork cement
joints are in good condition.
Gutters often become blocked with leaves, weeds or debris and should be cleaned out
on a regular basis. Replace or repair any missing or defective sections immediately in
order to protect the property.
Check for bird ingress or wasps’ nests. In very rare cases where you find bats,
remember that they are a protected species so you will need specialist advice.
Check condition of water storage tanks and pipe work and ensure they are properly
covered and lagged.
Dampness can penetrate through defective mortar joints or hairline cracks in the
rendering. Although very fine surface cracks may appear insignificant, it is always
sensible to fill them to be on the safe side.
Ensure that the cement mortar around the waste pipes is in good condition.
Use a pliable waterproof mastic sealant to close any gaps around the window or door
Never bridge a damp course by building up external paving levels or garden borders.
A sensible guide is to keep external levels at two brick courses below damp course
level, or inside floor level.
Never render walls down to external ground level, as this is likely to bridge any damp
proof course. Always finish the rendering in a properly formed bell cast.
Water may get behind poor rendering that could lead to dampness. Any cracked or
loose areas of rendering should be repaired or replaced.
Remove ivy or other climbing plants in particular from walls and gutters. Such plants
can damage stonework/brickwork and retain moisture in the wall.
Do not allow any sub ground floor airbricks to become blocked. Failure to do so will
prevent adequate airflow and could lead to decay.
Check water down pipes for splits or leaky joints.
Paint/re-stain window frames and other joinery at regular intervals.
Periodically check window and door frames and repair any timbers affected by wet rot.
Regular painting will help avoid the timber becoming rot affected.
Replace broken or damaged sash cords or window latches.
Renew cracked or broken panes of glass and replace missing or loose putties before
We strongly advise you that you have the electrical installation checked by the
Electricity Board at least every three years as the system can deteriorate with age and
Regulations are being constantly updated.
Ensure that you obtain qualified advice before making any alteration to the electrical
wiring system.
Ensure that you know how to get to external and internal stopcocks in the event of an
Check your plumbing pipework and waste pipes for joint leaks and from time to time
clean out bath, sink and wash basin traps. Re-seal joints around shower bases and
other appliances.
Clean through overflow pipes from water tanks or cisterns.
Arrange for central heating boilers, water heaters and heating appliances to be
regularly serviced to maximise efficiency.
Clear blocked soakaways or gulleys. Blockages in a drainage system may be cleared
by rodding or pressure hosing.
Shrubs and trees can be damaging to the fabric of the property and so their growth
needs to be restricted. Keep soil, trees and shrubs away from outside walls wherever
Cut back any wall climbing plants as they can damage walls and can encourage damp
Before you start any structural alterations of extensions check with your local Council
as to whether Building Regulations or Planning Approval is necessary. (Building
warrants in Scotland).
If you live in a Listed Building remember that Listing Building Consent may be
necessary even in the case of minor alterations to the appearance of the building.
The thermal efficiency of your property can often be improved at relatively modest cost.
These measures can often result in an improved internal environment, reduced carbon
dioxide emissions and lower fuel bills. Such measures include:-
Draught exclusion to windows and external doors.
Proper insulation of hot water cylinders and lagging of water pipes.
Check that your loft insulation is thick enough but make sure that gaps are left at
the eaves to allow sufficient ventilation to the roof space, and remove from below
water storage tanks.
Ensure that your heating controls are effective, e.g. consider the use of automatic
time clock controls, thermostatic radiator valves, thermostatic cylinder controls etc.
Double or secondary glazing of windows.
BRE Scale of Cracking
Hairline cracks less than 0.1mm in width. These
are classed as negligible
Up to 0.1mm
Very Slight
Fine cracks normally visible internally only and
which can be easily treated during normal
decoration. Perhaps indicative of slight fracturing in
building. Rarely visible in external brickwork.
Up to 1mm
Cracks which are easily filled and re-decoration
normally necessary with recurrent cracking being
able to be masked by suitable linings. Cracks not
necessarily visible externally, some external repointing may be required to ensure weather
tightness. Doors and windows may stick slightly.
Up to 5mm
The cracks require some opening up and can be
patched by a builder.
Possible re-pointing of
external brickwork, doors and windows may stick,
service pipes may fracture and weather tightness of
the building is often impaired.
Windows and door frames distorted, floors sloping
noticeably, walls possibly leaning or bulging, some
loss of bearing in beams, service pipes disrupted.
Extensive repair work normally involved in breaking
out, replacing sections of walls especially above
doors and windows.
(dependant on
number of
Very Severe
This requires a major repair job involving partial or
complete re-building, beams lose bearing, walls
lean badly and require shoring. Windows broken
with distortion, danger of instability.
Usually greater
than 25mm
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