Many village houses that may look to be of Georgian origin surprisingly date from the 16th century or before.  So when viewing a so-called Georgian property, you should be careful as these are some of the features, which could be costly, unless detected.

Parapet walls and gutters
External walls were often lined internally with lathe and plaster to provide a smooth surface to support decoration and ornate plasterwork.  Linings also protected decorations from the effects of dampness and condensation.

Danger:   Moist conditions behind these linings can manifest themselves in an outbreak of dry rot.  To reduce the risk of such conditions occurring, the mortar pointing must be maintained.  The walls should be kept as dry as possible by maintaining rainwater fittings and clearing away vegetation as this tends to hold dampness against the surfaces.

Mathematical Tiles
Special shaped clay tiles arranged in a brick pattern with mortar joints to give the appearance of brickwork were a Georgian innovation.  They enabled modest timber framed buildings to be given an imposing facade that was lighter and cheaper than a brick facade.  But only a trained professional, says Lewis, can tell that this not brickwork. 

Danger:  Corrosion of tile fixings, decay or woodworm affecting concealed timbers and poor insulation are features that may never be suspected unless mathematical tiles are identified.

Dry-Lined Walls
External walls were often lined internally with lathe and plaster to provide a smooth surface to support decoration and ornate plasterwork.  Linings also protected decorations from the effects of dampness and condensation.

Danger:   Moist conditions behind these linings can manifest themselves in an outbreak of dry rot.  To reduce the risk of such conditions occurring, the mortar pointing must be maintained.  The walls should be kept as dry as possible by maintaining rainwater fittings and clearing away vegetation as this tends to hold dampness against the surfaces.

Sash windows
The Georgians invented sash windows , but window maintenance is a laborious process with sash cords, pullies and weights to service. 

Danger:  Unfortunately, windows are seldom afforded the same care and attention as they once were and expensive repairs often prove necessary.  Sometimes, it is cost effective to renew a unit rather than commission a refurbishment. 

Introduction of softwoods
Traditionally, oak and other hardwoods, available in abundance throughout Surrey and the Sussex Weald had been used in structures and for joinery.  The Georgian period saw the introduction of imported softwoods, which were easier to machine but were at greater risk of attack by woodborers.

Danger: In extreme cases, this has lead to failure of the timber or impairment of its load bearing capacity.  Modern treatments can arrest infestation and often timbers can be repaired or braced rather than replaced, provided you catch infestation in time.

David Lewis is a chartered surveyor with Grillo LLP (01483 863 600; www.grillollp.com)