BISF House opinion and survey checklist  



To begin with, i would like to appreciate the knowledge of the admin on BISF construction.

I recently put an offer on the following property. Could any experienced people please offer their thoughts on below property? Anything I need to worry about and any home improvement suggestions. It will be of great help. Thanks.

Secondly, I opted for the full survey. I want to ask the surveyor particularly to check the following. Any other important suggestions would be appreciated. 

1. whether the roof is made up of asbestos. if yes, what is its condition? replacement costs?

2. The condition of the steel frame.


Thank you very much.


Hello Krish007 and welcome to our forums.

I can answer your first question straight away.

From what I can see of the roof, the property has a prescribed lightweight steel roofing system, such as Decra/ Metrotile or Britmet already fitted. Obviously I can't tell the manufacturer from this distance, but it will likely be manufactured by any one of these 3 reputable brands.

Theses houses are fitted with lightweight steel systems simply because standard concrete/ clay or slate roof tiles are far too heavy for the frame to carry, The fact one is already fitted is a great bonus.

As for your second question, the only way the frame can be fully examined would be through an invasive survey, providing the homeowner would allow this of course, as it could mean removing some of the external render from the outside of the property, in order to view the corner stanchions (steel legs).

Most homeowners are not too keen on this and there would be an added cost to repair the render back to its previous state. Another possibility, is the use of a borescope. This is a tiny camera on a long tube that can be inserted through a very small drill hole in the wall. It can be tricky to get the camera into the right position but it can give you an indication of the steels condition, and I have used one of these myself. Not all surveyors have or use borescopes, though so it would be worth asking if this service is available and what the cost is.

Borescopes have come down a lot in price lately and can be purchased for under £30. They can easily be linked to a laptop or ipad and the image can be displayed on the screen. Obviously theses cheaper borescopes are not professional grade but they can still be very effective.

The borescope can be inserted into the wall cavity by drilling a small 5mm or so hole through the internal wall, which in my case, was under a kitchen cupboard situated in the corner of the room.  In your property, this would be through the wall currently covered by the left hand side of the cooker. After viewing, the small hole can be easily filled with filler and being hidden by the cooker, the filled hole would be practically invisible. The hole would be drilled as low as possible to the floor, usually just above the skirting board.

If the surveyor was to inspect just one column, it would be wise if this was a corner column, because if corrosion is present, that's where it is most likely to be.

I hope the survey goes well and please let us know how it progresses.





Just a few thoughts on the home improvement front.

External wall insulation would be advantageous as it helps to keep the property much warmer in winter. The application of the external insulation also effectively renovates the entire exterior of the property and covers or in some cases even removes the not so pretty steel panels from the upper storey of the house.

From what I can see, it looks as though the attached neighbours may have already had this fitted. The cost for this can vary broadly and we have seen prices range between £6k and £12k for this. There was a government backed scheme a few years ago that reduced the cost to around £2k for the householder but this scheme has since closed. The government may provide further funding in the future or in certain cases your energy company may provide help with this cost through ECO (Energy Company Obligation) but this will depend of individual circumstances.

Inside the property, I can see that interior walls have been removed creating an open plan effect, which is popular with many owners.

I also see a lot of panelling on the walls which may just be decorative or it may be hiding slightly bowed walls, as many, (but not all) BISF houses were fitted with hardboard wall boards, not plasterboard. All this means is that there may be an additional cost involved in replacing the hardboard if it is present, with skimmed drywall plasterboard. Bowing caused by hardboard wall wall panelling is not a structural defect or even a serious problem but it is a known fire hazard and not recommended as a wallboard by today's safety standards. 

One particular improvement that I always recommend, relates to the soil waste pipe. In most modern homes, this is hidden inside the wall cavity or fitted on the outside wall of the house. In the BISF house it is located on the inside wall of the property. In this case, you will notice a boxed in protrusion running down the bathroom window wall which continues down into the kitchen. (See images below).

If you're planning on replacing the kitchen and bathroom, it can be a good time to remove the cast iron pipe and surrounding box to the outside wall of the property. It's not a particularly difficult job but when removed it gives you far better layout options in both rooms, and provide a little extra space too.

These are just tips toward making the house more functional for the future. I certainly can't see any glaring issues at all in the estate agents images.

I hope this helps.

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