Here are the Top 10 misconceptions about building surveys that Peter comes across frequently, in the course of his work:

No – the bank or building society is only interested in knowing that they can get their money back if they repossess the property

80% of buyers don’t bother with a survey, even those it’s the biggest purchase of their lives. It costs a fraction of a percent of the total cost of a property.

It’s foolish to risk unseen problems in the property when you buy it with a mortgage—and even more so when it’s all your money.

Both wet and dry rot are caused by dampness, resulting from more than 20% humidity. Dry-looking cuboidal cracks will appear in wood, particularly in unventilated spaces, and can spread unseen behind panelling, under floors and so on.

Cracks can be caused by: subsidence, settlement, thermal movement, vibration, differential movement.

Cracks up to 5mm in width can normally be repaired easily and don’t usually require major work. As for wider cracks: straight cracks are normally less of a problem. Diagonal or tapering cracks are more worrying and can be a sign of subsidence.

Even simple thing like blocked gutters can cause thousands of pounds of damage.

No, in 90% of cases reported to us, condensation is to blame. People don’t open windows and/or dry clothes inside.

Penetrating damp occurs when water invades your home from the outside in.

Not in exposed areas or when cavities are blocked with rubbish.

Cavities are there for a reason— for insulation and to form a physical barrier to damp.

Absolutely not! A chimney breast forms part of the structure of a house. Unless the whole chimney, from the fireplace to the roof stack is going to be removed, support beams must be used to hold up any masonry above to avoid structural distress, damage or even the collapse of the building. You need to follow building regulations and employ a structural engineer to design supporting beams.

About half of vendors don’t bother with this. While it’s not a legal requirement for householders, if you’re a landlord you are liable for the safety of your tenants so must have an annual gas safety check carried out.

All electrical installations deteriorate over time. About 90% of people don’t bother with a periodic inspection to check safety, which is recommended every 10 years for an owner-occupied home, every 5 years for rented property and (interestingly) every year if you have a swimming pool.