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Medina property in Marrakech has some specificities that require local knowledge and experience. We provide a full surveyance service, from structural analysis of the building through to estimation of the market value of the property.

There are some things to consider when buying property in the Medina, and specifically riads. The riads were originally built without foundations, being old red brick and packed earth structures. They were laid out on beaten ground and erected with massive supporting walls, often decorated with partly-supporting columns around the patios. Some of these walls can be over a metre thick. The effect of osmosis means that these old walls tend to pump humidity from the ground into the structure, leading to conspicuous damp areas especially on the ground floor. Of itself, this is rarely a major problem and the walls remain solidly supporting. However, when surveying a riad that has not been maintained for a long time it is particularly important to identify humid areas and test for brick solidity as they can become friable after long and uninterrupted exposure to damp.

The original woodwork can also suffer where exposed either to direct sunlight or to osmosis.

In fact, the climate in Marrakech is both a major attraction (with over 300 days of sunshine a year) and a bane (as the cool, damp winters stress buildings).

There are many ways to deal with the osmosis in a Marrakech riad. The traditional way is to maintain porous, plaster covered brick walls that “breathe” the humidity into well aired spaces. This has the inconvenience of having to re-surface the walls every year or so in order to avoid unsightly stains and the degradation of the plaster and paintwork. It is also possible to install a damp course between the brick and the room interior. I've seen breathers inserted into the brick, allowing the humidity certain egress points. Some owners of old riads opt for sealant products between brick and plaster. These can take the form of specialist rubberised paints. One specialist is now proposing a highly rigid yet porous plaster that allows a natural “breathe” and only needs repainting. In the main, it is important to recognise that if a wall is sealed and the osmosis is not treated at root cause, then the wall will retain significant humidity which could lead to rot.

The few remaining grand old riads for renovation usually have packed earth ceilings, resting on a lattice work of reeds and rough beams and hidden with old-wood boarding. If these structures take on water (and they usually do over time) then they become excessively heavy and the ceilings will collapse. Most quality restorations of these old structures will involve the careful removal by hand of the packed earth and it's replacement with a concrete based plate, while conserving the beams and the old-wood boarding. Supporting pillars can be inserted into existing walls for added strength.

Many renovations carried out up until the late 1980's involved poor materials and poor workmanship, leading to a need to properly survey even a renovated riad. One of the main issues was the quality of sand used in the cement. This was often taken from riverbeds or beaches and contained excessive levels of saline minerals – a major factor in promoting osmosis and salt staining. It can also lead to the rapid degradation of the integral strength of the concrete and cause sagging or flaking. Using up-to-date materials allied with good craftsmanship it is not difficult to repair these structures once identified.

Contact us for all your surveyancy needs. We are your property surveyors in Marrakech Medina.

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Property surveying

Medina property in Marrakech has some specificities that require local knowledge and experience.

Planning regulations

Planning regulations concerning riad renovation in Marrakech Medina are somewhat restrictive yet also relatively clear.