We not only want to perform the most comprehensive surveys we can but we’d also love to help you truly understand the terminology around building surveys.

Please find below our glossary of property terms and a useful diagram of all the property locations covered in a survey aimed to help you understand everything in regards to your property survey and potential property purchase.

Our Property Glossary

Material mixed with portland cement to form concrete. Fine aggregate is sand, course aggregate is gravel.

Perforated earthenware airvents to provide sub-floor or roof void ventilation.

Joinery moulding around door or other opening.

Fibrous mineral with fi re-resistant qualities. Airborne fibres are a known health hazard.

Staircase and landing handrails and spindels.

Tar like material used in sealants, mineral felts and damp proof course.
Beam spanning opening supporting construction above.
Heating coil of pipework within copper hot water cylinder.

Loss of strength to concretes associated with chemical changes and rusting to steel reinforcement.

Sealing to edges around baths and showers.

Sealed tank holding sewage requiring periodic emptying.

Thick rendered walls built of earth or clay often mixed with straw

Water condenses on surface when it is colder than the dew point of the surrounding air. 

Spreading and folding of lead or asphalt on roofs and steps especially due to heat from sun.

Irregular sections of tree trunk used for rafters and other rough carpentry.

Lower part of internal wall to approximately 1 m high usually finished with Dado Rail in form of timber moulding.

Sealed units have two panes of glass factory sealed; secondary double glazing has additional window fixed to main window, usually inside.

Generated around pylons, power lines, substations and mobile phone masts. Health risk unproven but proximity may deter some purchasers and affect resale value. 

Borescope for inspecting inside wall cavities, etc.

Tapering cuts of wood fixed over joists under decking to provide drainage fall to flat roof

Temporary support in gap between buildings, generally during redevelopment.

Channel formed around base of walls, often filled with gravel, typically in conjunction with thatched or other roofs which lack gutters

Decorated band to top of internal wall below cornice

Temporary timber struts under converging chimney brickwork in roof space.

Arches and ornamentation in shaped or tapered bricks.

Cement work used to support drainwork and manholes below ground.

Lifting of foundations due to clay swell or other expansion of support below.

Collects water at the top of a down pipe.

Destructive type of woodworm, mainly confined to southern counties in UK.

Difficult sites to build on containing rubbish, hardcore, fill, etc.

A flat on more than one level often with own external entrance door.

Electrical insulation check.

Builders refer to it as “ muck ”. Various combinations of cement, lime and sand. One part cement to three parts sand, is the strongest and hardest. Weaker combinations preferred for many situations.

Slates slip due to rusting of nails holding them.

Foundation comprising concrete blocks set into ground linked by beamwork.

Tongued and grooved, secret nailed, hardwood flooring.

Sloping tile or slate roof as opposed to flat roof.

External face of mortar between bricks.

Sideways shift to timber-frame wall or roof.

Holds back land behind and may thus support structures behind also.

Capillary action causes moisture to rise up in wall or floor.

Hessian type material used to seal joints in plasterwork.

Private drainage system uses bacterial action to
process sewage.

Splits and cracks in timbers following grain.

Vertical crack due to part of wall moving down.

Calculation of height, width and strength of wall.

Minor building works to be fi nished off after practical completion.

Angled timbers supporting purlins and rafters

Downward shift of building due to movement in ground beneath.

Mortar applied under slates or tiles to improve weather tightness.

Timber framework as part of roof construction.

Insertion of new foundation beneath existing foundation.

Polythene or similar material prevents warm damp air entering void.

Wedge-shaped block used to form an arch.

Early type of plaster finish for internal walls.

Allow drainage from wall cavity or from behind retaining wall.


A Level 3 building survey covers all the areas in this diagram and will give feedback on any findings in a clear and thorough manner. 

RICS Property Diagram

Credit: RICS


So you understand what you would receive at the end of one of our building surveys we’ve put together an example building survey document for you to view.

These document break down all the segments covered in your building survey and shows an example of how we thoroughly display the information and break down any potential defects or issues that may be hidden in your property.