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Structural Surveys

Planning for a property extension always starts with the foundations

What is a Party Wall?

If you or your neighbor have plans to embark on a kitchen extension, loft space conversion, internal layout reconfiguration, or basement excavation, it’s important to note that these proposed works may likely come under the purview of The Party Wall etc. Act 1996. This UK legislation deals with matters related to party walls, boundary walls, and similar structures situated near property boundaries, providing a structured framework for resolving issues while ensuring the protection of all parties’ rights and interests.

The Act primarily applies to England and Wales, specifying the procedures to be followed when property owners intend to carry out specific types of work affecting party walls or boundary walls. These types of works encompass:

Erecting a new wall on or astride the property boundary.

Making alterations to or demolishing an existing party wall or boundary wall.

Excavating near a neighboring building or structure within a 3 to 6-meter range, such as for foundation work.

Key Features of Party Wall Etc 1996

Party Wall Notices

Party Wall Notices: In the UK, when a property owner intends to undertake any of the specified works regulated by the Act, they are required to serve a Party Wall Notice to their neighboring property owners. This notice must furnish precise information about the proposed works and the intended start date. It’s important to note that a minimum of one month’s notice is necessary for Section 6 (1) or 6 (2), and a minimum of two months’ notice is required for Section 2.

Party Wall Award

If the affected neighbouring property owners give their consent to the proposed works, then there is no dispute. However, if a dispute arises, the Act outlines statutory procedures for resolving it through the appointment of surveyors or an agreed-upon party wall surveyor. They will produce a legally binding document called a Party Wall Award that sets out the details of the proposed works and how they will be carried out, taking into account the interests of all parties.


Dispute Resolution

In case of disagreements between the parties or if a neighbouring property owner does not respond to the Party Wall Notice, the Act provides provisions for dispute resolution in accordance with section 10 of the act through the appointment of surveyors to represent each party’s interests and make decisions accordingly. 


Rights of Access:

The Act allows the property owner carrying out the works to access the neighbouring property to carry out the necessary work related to the party wall or boundary wall. 

 It is vital and imperative that property owners familiarise themselves with the Party Wall etc Act 1996 if they are planning any works that may impact on the boundary or at the boundary/ shared wall. The sole responsibility lies on the building owner to understand the importance of party wall

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Types of work covered by the Party Wall Act 

Section 1: new boundary walls

Common Misconceptions about Boundary Walls: When it comes to constructing new walls, the most frequent type is known as a 1(5) wall, which can be built right up to (but not beyond) the boundary. Some Adjoining Owners might believe that new walls should be set slightly back from the boundary, often due to advice from architects from decades ago. However, this isn’t the case. As long as key elements like roofs, gutters, and fascias don’t extend beyond the boundary, you’re free to build your wall right up to it without needing your neighbor’s consent.

Section 2 Work to a Party Wall

Section 2(2)(a):

Scenario: Underpinning a party wall, essential for basement excavations, and sometimes necessary for strengthening existing foundations in extensions.

Additional Note: This section also comes into play when raising a party wall, which is common when extending lofts and raising parapet walls.

Section 2(2)(b): Scenario: Repairing or demolishing and rebuilding a party wall when such repair is justified.

Section 2(2)(f): Scenario: Cutting into a party wall to accommodate steel beams (used in loft conversions or removing structural walls), joist hangers, or for installing waterproof lead flashings.

Section 2(2)(g): Scenario: Cutting away from a party wall, typically relevant for the removal of chimney breasts or structural walls.

Section 2(2)(l): Scenario: Raising or demolishing and rebuilding a garden party wall, often necessary to accommodate the flank wall of an extension.

Section 2(2)(n): Scenario: Exposing a party wall, while ensuring it is adequately protected against the weather.

Section 6 Excavations

This section of the Act applies to excavations for foundations that are within 3 metres of a neighbouring property and deeper than their existing foundations. The majority of London housing stock is either Victorian or built in the 1930s, and their foundations rarely exceed 30cm. However, proposed foundations will have to be a minimum of 1 metre deep to satisfy current Building Control requirements.

Imagine you had purchased a house and have a budget in mind not realising their is structural defects that could throw the project out of proportion, therefore it is always advisable for a structural engineer to produce a structural survey.

Cost-Effectiveness: Investing in a thorough structural site survey can save you significant costs in the long run. By identifying potential issues early on, you can prevent costly repairs and alterations during the construction process. Whether you plan to buy a studio flat or a property in high end areas we are capable of undertaking any structural survey report which is non intrusive 

Whether for the purposes of a mortgage lender when buying imminently, or planning a restoration or refurbishment. Both a first time buyer and current homeowner are better able to make an informed decision.

Comprehensive structural surveys provide significantly more in depth information and detail about a property’s structure and building condition, giving you the power

The main difference between a Structural survey and a building survey

Structural Survey 

– A full and in-depth examination of the property’s structure, including its foundations, walls, roof, floors, and other key structural elements.

– Typically recommended for properties with specific characteristics such as period properties, heritage properties, listed buildings, older properties, homes with unusual layouts, or properties planned for major renovations.

– This survey provides a comprehensive analysis of the property’s condition and identifies any structural issues that may exist.

– It is the most detailed and comprehensive type of survey, suitable for properties with potential hidden problems or those requiring extensive renovations.

Building Survey

– A thorough inspection of the overall condition of the property, encompassing its structure, interiors, exteriors, and other elements.

– Suitable for a wide range of properties, including older homes, newer properties, and properties with no significant structural concerns.

– While it covers some structural aspects, it also addresses other essential features like plumbing, electrical systems, insulation, and more.

– The building survey provides a detailed report on the property’s condition, highlighting any areas that need attention or potential issues.


What is the use of a defect survey

About to purchase a house

Structural inspection enables detailed information to be collected on the extent and costs of fixing the issue. It will help you decide on whether to proceed with the purchase or negotiate successfully for a lower valuation and price.

Satisfy the mortgage lender

Structural report covering a specific defect is requested before proceeding with the mortgage application process.

Planning a house renovation

Structural engineers can carry out a structural survey to determine the suitability of the property for renovations before any building works commence, and offer expert advice.

Getting a second opinion

Your surveyor recommends further investigation by a structural engineer..

What does a building Investigation cover?

A building investigation will often involve a close analysis of:

Cladding materials – detached from building surfaces,

Steel frames or members – corrosion, and extent of deterioration Corrosion in a building’s steelwork can build up powerful forces that will crack open the surfaces of a building.

Concrete structures – ageing and extent of degradation caused by carbonation, chloride (salt) entry, sulphates, etc. Among the most common defects is the current structural suitability of concrete, which can be increasingly affected by a polluted environment.

Timber member – ageing and extent of deterioration.

Thermal movement – extent and severity of material cracking,

Framing, floor or roof members – whether defective, under-designed or poorly detailed.

Load bearing capacity

Framing, floor or roof members – whether defective, under-designed or poorly detailed.

One type of building investigation will focus on structural detail and load bearing capacity, including:

Non destructive, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) surveys of structural elements and objects buried below ground.

Plate bearing capacity of sub-base materials to determine ground bearing capacity of a slab.

Breakout of structural concrete elements.

Force of compression from concrete core.

We will only be able to do non intrusive investigation, if breakout are required this needs to be done prior to our inspection. We do not carry out soil testing or any geo technical aspects.

What does a Structural Survey Report Include?

At AC Design Solution, our structural survey reports offer a thorough examination of properties, delving into potential structural defects that could impact your investment. Our expert team is equipped to identify issues such as cracks in walls, water damage, foundation subsidence, and other concerns affecting structural integrity.

Our structural survey commences with a meticulous visual inspection, focusing on the areas of concern. Should further investigation be required to determine the root cause of defects, our experienced professionals will provide sound guidance on the matter.

For those seeking a more comprehensive analysis, our building survey is the ideal choice. Going beyond the surface, this survey encompasses hard-to-reach and hard-to-inspect areas, uncovering any lurking defects that could lead to compromised structural integrity, internal wall cracks, damage to beams and joists, and even subsidence concerns.

Whether you are purchasing a property or planning significant structural modifications, our building survey is an indispensable step. It is especially crucial prior to exchanging contracts during property acquisition or before embarking on extension projects.

In London, our structural surveys benefit property owners, homeowners, and property developers by meticulously assessing various internal issues like chimney breast integrity, evenness of walls and floors, ceiling cracks, dampness, mold, rising damp, woodworm, rot, and other factors affecting structural soundness.

Our surveyors don’t stop at examining the internal aspects; our keen eyes extend to scrutinizing the exterior of the property. From the integrity of roofs, chimneys, and guttering to external walls and brickwork, we leave no stone unturned in identifying telltale signs of subsidence, issues with windows or doors, and property drainage concerns.

Our external structural surveys also encompass appraising extensions, such as conservatories and orangeries, as well as stand-alone structures like garages.

When you opt for our structural reports package, you can expect the following inclusions, among other valuable features:

1. Site Inspection: Our team conducts visual surveys and full structural surveys led by our proficient structural engineers.

2. Expert Advice: During the survey, we offer verbal guidance and engage in discussions about the findings to keep you informed.

3. Comprehensive Written Report: Our chartered or near chartered engineers meticulously compile a detailed written report, offering clear insights into the property’s condition.

4. Ongoing Support: For any queries related to the technical report, we provide prompt email and phone support.

5. Homebuyer Structural Reports: We cater to homebuyers, ensuring they have access to reliable structural information provided by our qualified engineers.

The Process of a Structural Survey

Structural surveys play a vital role in evaluating the structural condition of any type of property in the UK, whether it’s for potential buyers, renovators, or converters. These surveys focus solely on examining the structural integrity of a building and are essential before purchasing, renovating, or converting a property.

Now that we understand the importance of a structural survey, let’s delve into the typical process involved. It’s essential to hire a qualified and experienced chartered building surveyor to conduct the survey. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of what you can expect during a structural survey:

Initial Consultation

The process usually begins with an initial consultation, either in person or over the phone, where you discuss your requirements, concerns, and specific details about the property. The surveyor will gather information about the property and its history to better understand any potential issues or risks.

On-Site Inspection

The surveyor will visit the property to conduct a thorough on-site inspection. They will examine the structure, both internally and externally, paying close attention to key areas such as walls, floors, roofs, foundations, and load-bearing elements. They will also assess any visible signs of dampness, subsidence, or other structural concerns.

Detailed Analysis

During the inspection, the surveyor will take detailed notes, photographs, and measurements to document their findings. They may also use specialized equipment like moisture meters or thermal imaging cameras to identify hidden issues that may not be visible to the naked eye.


After the on-site inspection, the surveyor will compile a comprehensive report detailing their findings, observations, and recommendations. The report will highlight any structural defects, potential risks, and necessary repairs or maintenance work. It may also include estimated costs for the recommended remedial actions.

Discussion and Advice

Once the report is ready, the surveyor will schedule a follow-up discussion to go over the findings in detail. They will explain the implications of the structural issues, answer any questions you may have, and provide expert advice on how to proceed. This discussion is an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the property’s condition and make informed decisions.