Structural Investigations for Commercial Properties from Woodward Surveyors

If you own the Freehold of a Commercial Property, or are a Long Leaseholder on a Full Repairing and Insuring Lease (FRI) the fabric of the building may well be your liability.  Sadly, buildings do not always function perfectly. During their lifetime the effects of damp, attack from insects and changes in the way we use or have altered the property can create problems.  Materials also wear out over time. Such problems ultimately manifest themselves as cracks in walls, mould growth, collapsing woodwork or the like.

The terms ‘settlement' and ‘subsidence' also often strike fear into the minds of property owners. The two terms are often used to describe the same problem that may occur in buildings. The Oxford English Dictionary defines settlement as the subsidence of a wall, house or the soil, and subsidence is the sinking to a lower level.

Commercial preoperty can settle by the subsidence of the soil upon which it has been built; the vast majority of claims made to insurance companies for structural damage are in the south-east of England, including London, where buildings are constructed on a shrinkable clay sub soil. These soils suffer from the disadvantage of shrinking during hot dry summers and thereby ‘sink' or reduce drastically in volume causing a building above to settle or drop downwards.

This problem is often exaggerated where large and fast growing trees are planted near a building; a thirsty tree will remove large quantities of water from the sub soil. In extreme cases of subsidence the complete demolition and rebuilding of the property would be required. ‘Underpinning' is another term used in association with subsidence problems. This is the process of constructing new and deeper foundations beneath the existing building, which is not considered to be beyond economic repair.


A Woodward Chartered Surveyors Structural Investigation

Our initial Structural Investigation will endeavour to establish the cause of the problem (many are merely related to weathering and the drying out of building materials) and a report will follow recommending the appropriate action. Our Structural Investigations are often called upon to report on issues with damp or with a roof structure, as well as the more obvious potential movement of a building.

In the case of movement, a period of monitoring may be necessary to determine whether movement is progressive or not and recommend the appropriate repairs. In many cases it is discovered that only relatively minor repairs are necessary, but this can only be determined by an experienced professional.

We will liaise with insurance companies, neighbours and builders, as required. If you have any concerns with your property, and require further information on whether or not they are founded, we will be happy to provide a brief initial consultation at low cost.