DIY building surveys

We recommend that you get a professional survey carried out on your building every five years. In between, take a proper look at the building yourself using this guide. If you cannot get owners to take your building’s condition seriously, it might also be worth carrying out your own survey and discussing your findings with your neighbours.

Get prepared

You need to communicate what you’ve found to your co-owners, so get set up at the start:

  • get copies of plans and elevations of your building if you have them
  • or take photographs and print them up black and white, so you can write on them
  • download the survey form and check it covers all the features of your building
  • print off extra sheets if you can, so you have enough to cover all the windows

On your plans and photos, number the chimneys, windows, dormers, and anything else you have more than one of, so you can keep track of what you’ve found.

It may be more pleasant to carry out a survey on a dry day, but wet days can reveal overflowing gutters and drips where it should be dry.

Download our DIY building survey checklist

Safe access for checking your building
  • get as much height as you can to check the roof – maybe a neighbour across the road will let you look out of their top flat window
    • if you need to look from the road, get someone to help keep an eye open for traffic
  • can you get safe access to your loft? – you might need someone to hold a ladder, and use crawl boards to avoid putting your foot through a ceiling
  • you may be able to access the roof through a hatch
    • don’t go out on the roof unless you are experienced and have a harness and a sound fixing point for the harness
  • grab a torch, binoculars, camera, clipboard, hard hat, and tough boots
What to check
DRAINAGE

Gutters and downpipes

Check every 6 months. Look for:

Drains and ground levels

ROOF LEVEL

Check every 6 months. Look for:

Central valleys and ‘secret’ parapet gutters

Check every 6 months. Look for:

Roof finish

Check every year. Look for:

Flat roof

Check every year. Look for:

Chimneys

Check every year. Look for:

Flashings

Check every year. Look at:

Dormers

Check every year. Look for:

INSIDE THE LOFT

Check every year. Look for:

EXTERNAL FEATURES

Perimeter fences and railings

Check every year. Look for:

WALLS

Front stonework (ashlar)

Check every two years. Look for:

Rear and gable stonework (rougher undressed stones)

Check every two years. Look for:

Oriels and bays

Check every two years. Look for:

INSIDE THE CLOSE

Close wall plasterwork and ceilings

Check every year. Look for:

The close stairs

Check every two years. Look for:

Close floor and landings

Check every two years. Look for:

Close tiles

Check every five years. Look for:

Close paintwork

Check every five years. Look for:

Close windows (sash and case)

Check every five years. Look for:

External features

WINDOWS

Check every five years. Look for:

756 504 Under One Roof

Ask for help from our team of tenement experts

Managing and maintaining a tenement building can be difficult. Under One Roof offers a free enquiry service that allows you to ask specific questions relating to your building.

Ask an expert
Newsletter
Privacy policy
Terms of service

Mid ceiling

Below ground level

Your tenement may have a basement, sometimes used for living accommodation or sometimes used for storage, cellars or wash-houses. These buildings will often also have a 'dunny' between the basement…

905 800 Under One Roof

Energy efficiency improvements

Adding insulation and draught-proofing can save money and the planet but in…

2560 1707 Under One Roof

Insulating traditional solid walls

Recent research suggests that traditional solid stone or brick walls provide better…

2560 1707 Under One Roof

Flat roofs

Flat roofs can be found on buildings of all ages. They can…

406 305 Under One Roof

Asphalt flat roofs

On stone tenements, asphalt roofs are found on: 'high backs' - raised backcourt…

406 305 Under One Roof
Start typing
Privacy Preferences

When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in the form of cookies. Here you can change your Privacy preferences. It is worth noting that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we are able to offer.

Our website uses cookies, mainly from 3rd party services. Define your Privacy Preferences and/or agree to our use of cookies.