Buying a new home is an exciting time. But without proper investigation and research before committing to a purchase, it can be easy to inherit disruptive and costly problems.

There are a number of issues that are becoming increasingly common for homeowners in the UK. Here we look at some of the red flags to look out for and how to spot them. 


Flooding is one of the most disruptive events that can occur in a property and unfortunately, instances of flooding have been on the rise over the last decade. Buyers should take the time to investigate proximity to a river, and whether the property has a history of flooding. Flood risk is one of the searches conducted by solicitors as part of the conveyancing process. However, it is always worth doing your own research.


Woodworm can cause long-term structural damage and as such, isn’t always covered under the standard terms of home insurance. Predominantly occurring in older properties, signs of woodworm include holes and tunnels in wood. These are not always obvious to the untrained eye, but should be detected in a survey report (RICS Homebuyer Survey or Building Survey report) undertaken by a Chartered Surveyor. If treated at an early stage, woodworm can be relatively quick and simple to tackle. However, if left untreated, the problem can escalate and potentially costly to repair once the damage is done.

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed is fast growing and causes damage to building foundations, structures and substructures. Cracks in masonry, brickwork or patios with growth coming through are potential signs of Japanese Knotweed. Unfortunately, mortgage lenders and home insurers can take a severe approach to the presence of Japanese Knotweed and where identified, it can devalue a property or cause sales to fall through entirely.

Guidance produced by the RICS in 2021 has provided an objective classification system, allowing for the most serious instances of knotweed infestation to be identified. The guidance also sets out unbiased and practical information on how the plant can be treated.

In addition to the potential disruption and cost these issues could cause, there is also the possibility of not being able to source home insurance – or for the cost of home insurance to be inflated.

A RICS Homebuyer Report or Building Survey report undertaken by a Chartered Surveyor should identify any signs of woodworm, or structural damage caused by invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed, also providing advice on potential remedies and associated costs.

Having knowledge of such ‘red flags’ might come as unwelcome news, but advice from a Chartered Surveyor can at least help you to make an informed decision as to how – and if – you proceed with the purchase.

For more information about any of our residential property surveys, please get in touch.

Preston Office
Telephone: 01772 458866
Blackburn Office
Telephone: 01254 260196
Clitheroe Office
Telephone: 01200 320040
Lancaster Office
Telephone: 01524 899850
Manchester Office
Telephone: 0161 265 0070
Lea Hough is a trading name of Lea Hough & Co LLP, which is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales under partnership number OC306054.
Registered Office: Oakshaw House, 2 Capricorn Park, Blakewater Road, Blackburn, Lancashire, BB1 5QR