Repairing your empty home tips

Last Updated: 3 April 2024

If your empty home needs repairs the guidance below will help you to prepare before you start any work.

Planning permission and building regulations

Before you make any changes to the property check with the relevant planning and building control teams in case you need permission first.


There are three different planning authorities in the South Lakeland area. If you live in the Lake District National Park or the Yorkshire Dales National Park you will need to contact their planning teams directly.

If you live in the South Lakeland District council area, but not in a national park, then contact our team.

Building Control

All building control issues in the area are dealt with by our Building Control.

It is also worth checking whether the property is a listed building.

Getting a price for your repairs

It’s best if you can have a professional survey of the work which will need to be done to your empty property. Try to get three quotes for costs of any repairs but if you can’t there are still things that you can do yourself. Here are some suggestions:


Look at the roof for missing tiles, slates or any other damage. If it’s a flat roof check for blisters or cracks.


Check for cracked or missing parts of flashings particularly along the base of chimneys, the walls of adjoining properties and the top of the roof.


Check the stone or render on the chimneys for cracks or gaps. Check out the pointing and make sure the chimney pots are not loose. You should also check that the sides aren’t bulging or leaning to one side.

Gutters and downpipes (rainwater goods)

Are these rusting, do they have any cracks, missing bits or fixings coming loose?  If there are damp patches on walls it could be that something is leaking.  Weeds growing from gutters may be due to a blockage.

External Walls


Are there cracks or decay in stonework above doors or windows?


Are there cracks or decay in stonework below windows?


Are there cracks, flaking or loose or decaying stonework?


Are there gaps or crumbling joints in the stonework?


Is the render loose or flaking?

Bulges or leaning walls

Is anything sticking out or leaning? This could mean structural problems.


Check wooden window frames for damage or decay. If you have sash windows check the cords and pulleys are working well. Is there missing or flaking putty which needs replaced? Will the windows need draught proofing?

The seals on double glazed windows need checking. Look for signs of misting between the panes of glass. Check for missing or blocked trickle vents. Can they open and close easily with a tight seal?

Roof Spaces

Check joists, rafters and joints between the roof and other surfaces. Look for signs of water damage like damp patches, stains, moulds, rotten timbers or attacks by insects.

Water tank

Tanks and pipes should be insulated to stop freezing. Check tanks are covered and if there are lead pipes.


Is there any insulation in the roof space or on tanks? 

Checks inside the property

Top floor

Check there are no signs of water damage (like damp patches, stains or mould) on walls and ceilings. These may be caused by problems with the roof.

Stairs and landings

Check for uneven steps or cracks between stair treads. Are any banister or rails missing? Check for loose or cracked plaster on walls. Check condition of locks on doors and windows on stairs.

Rooms with an outside wall

If there are damp patches, stains or mould this could be caused by leaky gutters or downpipes, missing pointing or problems with external stonework.

Rooms at ground or basement level

Check around the lower part of walls for damp patches, stains or mould. This could be caused by damage to external pointing, stonework or rising damp.

Outside the property

Air vents

Make sure these are covered so nothing can get in and that they are clear of the ground.

Drains and grates

Are these collapsing or blocked and need clearing?

Railings and boundary walls

Do these need to be repaired?


Are there uneven bits which need repair?


Check any trees which are too near to the house. The roots might upset the foundations of the property.

Useful links

NICEIC Electrical contractors is an independent body for electrical installation matters.

Gas safe register is the official list of gas engineers who are qualified to work safely and legally on gas appliances.

Federation of Master Builders (FMB)

National Federation of Builders (NFB)

British Property Federation (BPF)