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Checking Your Building

In between professional inspections there are some simple checks you could do yourself. For this you will need some equipment – a camera, torch, binoculars, long measuring tape, a ladder and someone to help you. It is also a good idea to draw a sketch of your building so you can mark where any problems are identified.

Remember if you live in a shared building you will need to ask neighbours if you can access their properties.


Please don’t take any risks. If you are not sure if it’s safe to do something, don’t do it! If you are using a ladder or other access equipment, make sure you know how to use them safely. Check out beforehand.

Inside Your Building

Mark any problems on your building sketch and then try to find their cause by looking at the outside of the building.

Top floor rooms and rooms with outside walls

Check ceilings and walls for any signs of water penetration (e.g. stains or mould growth)

Roof Space

You should go into the roof space only if it is adequately floored. You should check:

  • Joists, rafters, joins between roofs, walls and other visible surfaces – check for signs of damp, water damage and rot.
  • Insulation – There should be a minimum of 200-300mm. We recommend that you use mineral fibre quilt, and that the position of all services are clearly marked.
  • Water tank and pipes – are these items properly lagged to prevent them from frost damage? You should not be able to see any bare metal.

Contact the Energy Agency for advice and support to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Tel: 01292 521896 or email:

Common Stairs and Passages

Check for:

  • Increasing cracks between stair treads.
  • Treads that are uneven or worn.
  • Loose or missing banisters or rails.
  • Loose plasterwork.
  • Broken or inadequate locks on main doors.
  • Broken or rotted stair windows.

Outside the Building


You should not go on the roof – this is a job for a professional. However, you may be able to do some examination through the windows of a higher building or by using your binoculars. Pay special attention to any areas above water damage areas you’ve idenified for your internal survey.

Walls and Chimney

Look for cracks, area of decayed stone, gaps in the pointing (cement between bricks or stones), bulging or leaning walls.


Check for any areas of bare wood (e.g. on windows, doors, fascia boards etc) and ensure the sealant between windows and walls is intact.

Gutters and Downpipes

Check for areas of rust, cracks, leaks and loose fittings. Check they are clear from blockages.

Paths and Boundaries

Are they sound and secure (e.g. free of trip hazards/broken paving etc), are railings or walls in good condition?

Drains and Covers

Are they clear of debris (e.g. sticks, stones, litter, leaves)? Does water flow away easily?

Fresh Air Vents (At Ground Level)

These should be clear of the ground and covered with a grating to stop vermin getting in.


Are there any trees next to the building which could hit telephone or power lines, or potentially damage the building (check out if trees are overgrown or have damages limbs)?

After the Inspection

If you find problems, you should take action to stop them getting worse. Check the Organising Repairs to your Building section to get ideas how to go about it.

Useful Contact
Housing Policy and Strategy Team
Tel: 0300 123 0900

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Last updated: 11 August 2016

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