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Defects Diagnosis
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Building Surveys
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defects surveys


Building Pathology is the specialist building defects diagnosis service offered by West One Surveyors.


Building defects come in a wide range of ways from foundation problems, to roofing issues or defects with the services. All too frequently, a building defect may be a symptom of another problem, such as building movement that has been caused by defective drainage, or timber defects caused by damp ingress due to defective guttering.

Without a comprehensive understanding of a wide ranges of building types, constructions and defects, one can never hope to get to the cause of the problem.


Why use WestOne?

West One are totally independent Surveyors. We have nothing to sell other than the truth. There are may firms, particularly ‘damp proofing specialists’ that offer “free surveys”. These surveys will invariably always recommend a so called specialist treatment that is rarely required, and can often cause long term damage to the structure of your building. We charge for our investigations, which are extremely thorough, but we will get to the root of the problem and will put forward the most appropriate form of remedial work appropriate to the building.



Dampness is a very common cause of building defects. Dampness may be rising, falling, penetrating, leaking, condensation or a combination of these. Dampness in a building is very often misdiagnosed, even by some professional advisers. The dampness that is diagnosed is rarely the cause of the defect, but more often the carrying medium. IE, penetrating damp may be the symptom of a leaking gutter or high ground levels, it is not in itself the cause of the defect. Condensation may be a result of poor ventilation and insulation, again, it is not the cause of the defect, merely the symptom.


Water is present in all properties, and it is the only chemical that can affect buildings in all states, ie gas (water vapour), liquid (free water) and solid (ice). Many properties will have issues with more than one of these and in some circumstances, we have inspected properties that are being affected by all three at the same time. This is not un-common.


Over the years, we have inspected hundreds or properties with damp issues. We have never had reason to recommend ‘specialist’ treatments such as retrofit chemical damp proof courses. We have inspected properties where these have been installed because the gutter is leaking, or the ground level was too high and needed to be reduced slightly.

Common Defects

timber defects

Timber defects come in a variety of ways from structural failure, to rot or insect infestation.


In a similar manner to damp, the timber defects that are exhibited in a property are rarely the cause of the problem, only the symptom. Getting the link right between a real building defect and what is evident is where West One Surveyors can help. Lets take for example a rotten floorboard and joist at ground floor level. A ‘specialist’ may recommend the treatment of the joist and replacement of the floor board. Our Chartered Building Surveyors will look beyond the obvious, we will follow the chain and find the real cause of the defect. This could be a problem remote from the visible symptom. In this instance, it would be a leaking joint on a first floor level gutter. The over flowing water is saturating the wall at ground floor level causing it to soak through the wall, thereby affecting the joists and ground floor timbers. Repair the gutter and the water will subside and the house will dry out, naturally. No chemicals, no ‘specialist treatments, and above all, may cost you less!.  


In a similar way, beetle infestation are likely to be due to other defects in the building construction, or poor maintenance. It is quite possible to deal with wet rot, dry rot and beetle infestations without the use of chemicals or pesticides. Contact our Chartered Building Surveyors that will get to the root of the problem and solve it permanently.

building movement

Building movement affects most properties to some degree. This can be initial settlement, differential movement between building materials (we have all seen cracks around coving and in corners of walls), movement due to chemical changes such as wall tie failure or ground movement.


While a lot of movement goes un-noticed, some does not, and if you have any notable cracking, or cracks that are getting bigger contact us. In a similar vein to damp and timber defects, cracking is not necessarily the defect that needs to be resolved. It may be the symptom of another building defect. Once again, our defective gutter at first floor level could have saturated the brickwork to such an extent to cause thermally induced movement, or has saturated the ground, causing it to soften resulting in the corner of the entire building moving.


Contact West One regardless of the nature of the cracking. We will undertake a full detailed inspection of your property and will recommend the appropriate repairs or further investigation. We can also liaise with your insurers where appropriate if the works can be paid for under an insurance policy.


No single method of diagnosing building defects can be used 100% of the time.


Our Chartered Building Surveyors use a range of equipment and techniques to assist in the correct diagnosis of building defects. This will include electronic moisture meters, digital hygrometers, carbide meters, salt analysis equipment, thermal imaging, borescopes, lazer levels, vernier callipers, CCTV equipment, in addition to more run of the mill equipment such as digital dictation, digital cameras and digital measuring devices. This enables a full comprehensive inspection of the property to be carried out to help us fully diagnose the defect in question.


As required, will will also appoint sub-contractors for ground sampling, chemical sampling, concrete testing, gas sniffing and testing and water listening equipment.

This salts analysis was negative for nitrates and chlorides, likely rainwater or condensation damp.
Thermal imaging to assist in the location of cold bridging to a wall.
Hygrometer reading showing a very damp wall.
Timber beam failure caused buy poor flashing maintenance.
Wet rot growth. Repair the leak and the growth will die off.
Cavity wall tie issues in a new building. No tie is achieved due to poor workmanship.