The Menacing the Bad & the Ugly

The main causes of building defects

Building surveyors across all sectors are routinely tasked with investigating building defects to

commercial and residential portfolio's. By understanding how some of these errors can occur, the surveyor can be mindful not to repeat such practices. TK Surveying Group have compiled a range of common reasons as to why defects may arise.

Not in any particular order.

1. Water

Although under-rated as the primary agent of decay and deterioration. Water related damage is a key cause of what is perceived as damage by occupants. Think about it...roof leaks, defective guttering, burst pipes due to freezing, leaks to waste pipes, condensation, condensation related mould, penetrating damp, rising damp, breaching damp, wet rot...

2. Renovation

The addition and modernisations in older premises - for example converted wet room areas and showering facilities (more water) - has a major impact on older properties. The defects that may arise in such scenario's are too numerous to mention. if left unmonitored building work can result in a number of compromises that can result in complex building defects.

3. Poor design

Poor design is often said to be a cause of building failure. However we feel that this is sometimes used as a blanket statement on what is often deadline orientated complex projects. Short cuts can be undertaken not only during the construction phase but also during the drafting of the plans and specifications moreso where design details are often compiled very close to the time that a contractor requires them.

Superficially everything is in order, but on closer inspection the omission of key information can lead to significant problems on site. Problems are often left dormant until the inevitable occurrence of a defect long after everyone has left site is set in place.

Surveyors are required to possess an acute awareness that sometimes on site things do not go to plan, and are often left with little time to remedy problems accordingly. The skill and expertise of the designers and contractors often resolves difficult problems with success; but occasionally even the most careful consideration and application can result in a defect arising many years later.

Key issues with detailing include:

a) The provision of drawings with insufficient measurements, whereas key component dimensions are often omitted and when setting out on site often do not reflect the footprint of the demise.

b) Handsome computer generated and calculated to fine-tuned dimensions.....that are practically impossible to achieve on site.

c) For restoration work, the use of a computer to create the plans usually results in a vague assumption that the existing building is perfectly square and perfectly plain and perfectly flat (we wish).

e) During calculations of overall room dimensions the significance of the thicknesses of materials is overlooked, so that when the materials are installed on site they do not match the control dimensions on the plan. Have you tired fitting a 3.8m run of units into 3.799m meter void where the plastering had not been accounted doesn't quite fit, and never will!

Specifications are often too vague when it comes to important details....Fix as appropriate, or another favourite, please refer to BS*****. Indeed.

4. Backlog maintenance

Many organisations have an element of backlogged maintenance, and a defect can occur due to budgetary constraints whereas it is not possible to undertake the work that is required. Problems can be left from one financial period to the next, until reactive maintenance is the only option.

Surveyors are often faced with what looks like incompetent work when inspecting a defect, but that may be a valiant effort in the face of insufficient funding. Property professionals working for organisations that have taken on property portfolios can inherit maintenance deficits, and feasible

options have to be found, even if the ultimate remedy is uncomfortable.

5. Lack of management

In most texts, lack of management is elaborated on as if it were a third party problem. It is quite easy for a project to impose a high demand for supervision when other pressures are also at their height. Many professionals work out of offices and can be too far removed from the reality of the problems faced by the tradesperson on site. Clear direction and guidance are as much the surveyor's responsibility as anyone else's. Regular set days for site inspections can be counterproductive, as mistakes and problems can be hidden in anticipation of a visit. Do not regard site inspections as an opportunity to catch people out, but as an opportunity to provide solution to problems and set standards at the right time.


I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as we have enjoyed sharing our expertise. This by no means an exhaustive list but offers a flavour to aspiring surveyors and those tasked with project managing building projects.


Our extensive building surveying and construction expertise, coupled with our expert knowledge on applied property and land law, gained over two decades places us at the forefront of being able to protect your most valuable asset during the party wall process.

With a market saturated with cut price party wall surveyors you unfortunately get what you pay for, which often ends up costing you not just in monetary value but at the expense of your home.

For Expert, Friendly and Impartial Party Wall Advice and Assistance

Contact Us Today | 0208 243 8981

Covering North London & the Surrounding Area

#BuildingDefects #Renovation #Poordesign #wwwtksurveyinggroupcouk #TKSurveyingGroup #02082438981 #Waterdamage #Baddesign

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
No tags yet.
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square