The cost of an independent survey is a small amount to pay for peace of mind.

Specialist Reports

The most common specialist reports requested are for:

  • Dampness and condensation
  • Private drainage systems
  • Render and plaster failures
  • Thatch condition
  • Cob walls

Keith Luxton has a diploma in Architectural Conservation and is particularly experienced with the cob and thatch buildings that are so distinctive of the South-West.

Cob Building


Cob has been used from time immemorial and is a mix of locally sourced clay subsoil, stone aggregate and straw. It dries to a surprisingly hard material that is strong in compression (i.e. it can support significant weight) but is weak in tension and is not good at resisting lateral forces, e.g. from failing and spreading roof structures. This often causes cracking close to the corners of buildings. Cob walls were usually built with a stone plinth to keep the cob above ground level. It is important that cob is kept reasonably dry to maintain its strength and stability and for this reason the use of vapour permeable renders and plasters (i.e. based on traditional lime mortar) is important. Luxton Surveyors works closely with a number of local contractors experienced in the use of traditional materials.

For some further information see www.devonearthbuilding.com.

There one or two specialists building new homes in this material:

Suppliers of traditional building materials:


In Devon, cob and thatch go together like scones and cream. The sweeping line of a thatch roof complements the rounded softness of cob and completes a harmonious and organic whole.

It represents the survival of a craft tradition with its origin in prehistory and, even in existing roofs, there are many examples in Devon – far more than in any other county – of original layers of thatch being smoke blackened from the days before chimneys and upper floors were inserted into buildings. 

We advise on condition and longevity, the importance of traditional techniques and materials for Listed buildings and aspects of fire safety. Links:

Cob Building

Choosing between surveys

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