extent of inspection

david hornby


The court case Ker v Allan & Sons (1949) (UK) 11 The Valuer 199 was concerned with the necessity or not of the valuer discovering dry rot in a house. It was held that the possibility of dry rot was a thing that should always be in the mind of the valuer and that he/she should look for any evidence that might, to his/her skilled mind suggest dry rot. However, in such circumstances and in the absence of suspicious circumstances it was not necessary for him/her to lift carpets or linoleum and to go underneath floor and make a detailed examination of every hidden corner of the building.

In Grove v Jackman (1950) Estate Gazette, 4 March 1950 the valuer reported that the property was "soundly constructed on good modern principles of building". Floors and joists were subsequently found to be in an advanced state of dry rot, the damp proof course was of poor quality, the air brick ventilators were useless and there were other structural defects. Lord Goddard held that he was satisfied that there were indications in the house that should have warned a careful and competent valuer of the possible presence of dry rot. That being so, he should have arranged or advised the plaintiff to arrange, for floorboards to be lifted and a more thorough examination made.


It was found in Phillips v Ward [1956] 1 All ER 874:

That a reasonable and competent surveyor after making a careful examination of the residence... would have discovered, as was the fact, that the roof had reached the end of its life and required complete reconstruction, using the old timbers and tiles where they were still able to fulfil their original function; that the condition of the wall plate and exposed joists in the cellar was such that a complete renewal of most of the joists was a virtual certainty; that the main timbers of the house were infected with death watch beetle and required examination and treatment and renewal or repair where necessary. (877)

Both the Official Referee and Court of Appeal held that the failure to notice these defects and report them to the plaintiff in assessing the value of the property constituted negligence on the part of the defendants.

A photograph should be taken of at least the front of the premises. This is often at the direction of the client and mortgage lenders. Some lenders require 5 different photos of the property. A colour photo should be taken as it conveys much more information that a black and white photo.