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Residential Property Appraisal,

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Phil Parnham and Chris Rispin, Spon Press, 2001, £35, pp358

I once spent three visits to a property trying to find the source of damp in the corner of a kitchen with no success. The problem was so bad that there were patches of water visible on the linoleum with puddles underneath the floor covering. I considered condensation, leaking pipes, damaged damp proof membrane and many other desperate theories. On my final visit I arrived before the tenant had finished clearing the area - to see her dog lapping water over the edges of the dog-bowl. Case solved.

Just one example to show that even though surveying is a game of skill and judgement, you still need to have a lucky break. This book details a written record of lucky breaks - so that the reader does not have to reinvent the wheel - based on thoroughgoing forensic inspection and detective work.

It seeks to provide surveyors with enough information to enable them to carry out surveys to the 'standards currently expected of the Mortgage Valuation and Homebuyers Survey'. However, don't let that put you off.

Forget the bits about home valuations (unless you are currently in the process of buying or selling) and just get stuck into the section entitled 'Surveying and identifying the problem'. This surely is a must for anyone hoping to get into the field, but, more importantly, for any architect charged with domestic refurbishment.

The guidance will provide the basis for a credible feasibility report into the key issues of concern;

structural soundness; rot or infestation; insulation; watertightness; the compliance of services and contamination among other things. It is written in clear, concise terms and offers a wealth of experienced inspection clues. It even gives a diagrammatic comparison of mouse, rat and long-eared bat droppings.Great stuff!

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