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Japanese Knotweed Surveys

Everything you need to know about Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed can cause a big headache for homebuyers and property owners. It can spread fast and damage a property’s brickwork, concrete, foundations and other structural elements. Japanese Knotweed first made its way into the UK in the 19th Century when it was brought over as an ornamental plant. However, as a non-native plant with no natural enemies in the UK, it can spread rapidly in the wild and find its way through drainage systems and cracks in concrete.

Japanese Knotweed is considered so damaging to the environment that under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it’s an offence to plant it or cause it to spread. It’s so invasive that the Environmental Protection Act 1990 sets out strict controls on all waste containing Japanese Knotweed. If Japanese Knotweed is present in the property you are interested in buying, it can cause a host of problems. It’s expensive to remove, requiring specialist equipment and expertise, and can take up to five years to fully resolve the problem if the ground is contaminated.

Some lenders won’t approve mortgages on properties where Japanese Knotweed is found unless there is a remediation plan in place. Unfortunately, the presence of Japanese Knotweed can be difficult to spot unless you know what you’re looking for. The only way to get peace of mind is with a home survey from a RICS registered surveyor experienced in identifying potential Japanese Knotweed problems.

What is Japanese Knotweed?

Japanese Knotweed is a highly invasive, aggressive plant that grows at a rapid rate. It’s an extremely hardy plant that can thrive in difficult growing conditions and spreads quickly underground. Its stems can grow through most materials, including any small cracks or gaps in a building’s bricks, concrete or foundations, which can damage its structural integrity. It can also compromise underground pipework.

It’s easy to identify Japanese Knotweed during the growing season. Its reddish stems start appearing in early spring and can grow up to 10cm in a day. Plants are usually fully-grown by early summer and can stand at more than 3m tall. It blossoms with white flowers in late summer. However, the main damage it causes is underground. By the time you have spotted it growing, the chances are its roots will be deep and sprawling. It can grow underground up to 3m deep and up to 7m sideways, in any direction.

While it’s not harmful to handle, because it spreads so rapidly if you disturb, pull or cut Japanese Knotweed, you could inadvertently deposit it elsewhere and cause it to spread. So, if you notice it growing within your boundaries, don’t ignore it. Its extensive underground root system can sustain the plant even when the top growth is removed, so it needs to be treated several times a year over a prolonged period to eradicate it entirely. We’d recommend getting specialist help from a licensed professional insurance backed contractor to remove Japanese Knotweed.

It can be controlled in three ways. It can be cut, but this is only a short-term fix, and the plant will start growing again as soon as you stop cutting. To fully eradicate the plant, infested soils need to be excavated and taken to a licensed off-site waste management facility. Chemical controls, such as herbicides, can also help keep it at bay but can take several years to be fully effective. If you are going down this route, a specialist contractor can advise on the most appropriate treatment methods for the property and its location. Finally, it can be controlled by introducing a biological control, or ‘pest’ species, into the environment to attack the weed.

Do surveyors look for Japanese Knotweed?

Japanese Knotweed can cause a host of problems for homebuyers and property owners alike. If you’re a buyer and aren’t aware of the presence of Japanese Knotweed in the property you’re buying, you could be left counting a heavy cost of having to rectify it after the deal has gone through. A home survey from a professional RICS registered surveyor is the best way of getting peace of mind.
RICS registered surveyors are property professionals trained to look for potential problems or hidden issues such as subsidence, damp and Japanese Knotweed. They work to a strict set of standards and must carry out their work with due skill, care and diligence.

When it comes to Japanese Knotweed, surveyors have a duty of care to homebuyers to highlight any potential problems, even if the property owner has attempted to treat or hide them. A surveyor will also be able to offer advice about the best ways to treat Japanese Knotweed and give you an estimation on how much it could cost to remediate, so you have this information up-front before you decide whether to proceed.

Japanese Knotweed Surveys

If you’re worried about Japanese Knotweed at the property you’re interested in buying, and whether it will affect its value, GB Home Surveys can help. In our Level Two and Level Three Home Surveys, we follow RICS’ strict sector standards and framework for objectively assessing, reporting and advising on the risks posed by Japanese Knotweed to help buyers make balanced and informed decisions. 

We’re an independent, RICS regulated chartered surveyors and have been providing trusted services for almost 30 years. Our surveyors are all RICS members and RICS registered valuers with vast experience in identifying potential Japanese Knotweed issues, recognising the problems it can cause and how they can be rectified.

Our service is convenient and hassle-free. It will provide you with all the information you need to make the right choices.  For a free initial consultation and a no-obligation quote, give our friendly team a call today to discuss your requirements.

Looking for a quote, or maybe you have a question? Get in touch today.

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