Decoding the jargon of chartered surveying: a glossary

We're all about keeping things simple and stress-free at Boultons Chartered Surveyors. And part of that means making sure our clients understand the ins and outs of their survey.

There can be a lot of jargon when it comes to a survey. But we're not interested in sounding clever. We're here to keep things straightforward.

That being said, sometimes jargon is inevitable. That's why this week, we're giving a run through of the most commonly used terms you'll hear during a survey.


Asbestos is a mineral, commonly used for insulation between the 50s and 80s. Professionals have since found if you breathe in damaged asbestos, it can be pretty nasty, and even cause some serious lung conditions.

A surveyor will know to look out for asbestos when carrying out the survey. You'll need to get a professional in if you need to deal with any asbestos in your property.


Benching refers to concrete used to fill in the gaps between drainage channels and brickwork. It's always smoothly sloped to stop sewage building up and keep rats or water at bay.

Boundary disputes

Boundary disputes might happen if you disagree with neighbours about where each property begins and ends, especially if there's land involved.

A surveyor can clarify the boundaries before you sign on the dotted line. This helps to avoid disagreements in the future, especially if you're planning to extend the property.

Cavity wall

A cavity wall has two layers of brickwork with a small gap between them. Cavity wall insulation is often needed to stop too much heat escaping through the gap.


Dilapidation refers to the maintenance and repairs a property needs to bring it to its original state, usually in the context of cosmetic damage.

You might have heard things like 'the place was dilapidated' - which usually means it's in a sorry state.


We know, it sounds like a fake word, but it's one to watch out for.

Gazumping is when a seller verbally accepts an offer on a property, but goes back on the agreement if a higher offer is put on the table. This forces the original buyer back into the market.

Japanese knotweed

Japanese knotweed is a fast-growing invasive weed plant. Sellers will need to declare if Japanese knotweed is affecting the property, and take measures to remove it before being able to go ahead with a sale.

The government website offers various ways you can get rid of Japanese knotweed from your home and land. It's important to get the professionals in for this one as knotweed can be massively disruptive.

Party wall

A party wall stands on the land of two or more owners. Essentially, it's a shared property boundary. They might form a part of a building, or be used as an outside wall, like a garden wall. If you want to carry out building work near or on your party wall, you must tell the other owners of the wall.

Stamp duty

Stamp duty is a tax you'll have to pay when you purchase a property. The amount will vary depending on its location and value.


Subsidence refers to when the ground underneath the property sinks or compresses, making it unstable.

This would case an unbalanced foundation which could put the property's structural safety at risk. A surveyor would need to look out for this problem to help judge the overall safety and value of the property.


Woodworm is another common problem found in UK properties.

It's a type of beetle found in early spring to mid-autumn, and usually targets homes that use exposed, untreated timber. Because the average home is made up of 70% timber, this gives woodworm plenty of opportunity to sneak their way in.

If you're still unsure or have more questions about your survey, don't hesitate to give us a call. We're here to keep things simple, every step of the way.

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