Surveys: knowing your options


Surveys: knowing your options

Your home is likely to be the most expensive thing you’ll every buy, so it makes sense to check that it’s not about to fall down! It’s a good idea to consider getting a survey done, which will assess things such as structural issues, subsidence and damp – a qualified surveyor acts on your behalf to allow you to make an informed decision before you agree to buy a property. If you don’t get a survey done and there turns out to be something wrong with the property, you could end up forking out thousands on unforeseen costs. You won’t have budgeted for these costs, so it is a really important part of the buying process. Plus, if you know the property needs lots of work doing, you may be able to use this knowledge to try and negotiate a lower price.

Don’t rely on your mortgage lenders valuation report

When agreeing a mortgage, your lender will request a Valuation Report, with costs starting at around £250 (which may be included in your mortgage application). This only lets the lender know if the property you’re buying is actually worth what you’re paying for it in the event that it ever has to be repossessed and sold at a later date – for example, if you weren’t able to keep up your repayments.  It will show up any serious issues, but won’t go into great detail, so if you rely on only this report, you could be at risk. However, if it’s a new build that you are buying, it should be covered by the NHBC certificate or Buildmark, which is like a 10 year warranty on the property.

Different types of surveys

There are three different surveys available to you, and we’ll give you a quick explanation of each one below.

Condition Report

This is a basic survey that costs around £100-£250, and it is sometimes paid for by your lender as part of their service.

What type of property is it good for?

If you’re buying a relatively new house or flat that’s in a good condition, a Condition Report may suffice.

What does it entail?

It provides traffic light indications about the state of various parts of the property, and lets you know of any risks or potential expenditures that could arise, however, it does not however go into extensive detail.

HomeBuyers Report

A HomeBuyers Report will start at around £400 and goes into much more detail compared to a Condition Report.

What type of property is it good for?

This may be worth considering if you are buying a modern property, or older properties that seem to be in a reasonable condition. But if you’re planning major work or alterations, it’s not usually suitable.

What does it entail?

It’ll point out any major problems that you may encounter, such as subsidence or damp, as well as advising you of the rebuilding cost in the event the property is ever destroyed. The surveyor won’t lift up floorboards, or drill any holes to investigate the state of the property, but the survey will give advice on any risks that come with the property, as well as recommendations of any work that will need to be done.

Building Survey

This is the most expensive option, starting at around £600, however, if you’re planning on buying a large or ‘non-standard’ property, it’s often worth paying out, as it gives you a really thorough review of the state that the property is in.

What type of property is it good for?

It’s worthwhile if you’re buying an older property, one that’s listed, timber framed, thatched or if you are planning any major renovations or alterations.

What does it entail?

The surveyor will give the property a really good look over, going into the attic, above the ceilings, between floors and behind the walls. You may also be able to request an estimate of repair, so you know how much you’ll need to budget for. A full structural survey will arm you with everything you need to know about the property and allow you to make an informed decision on whether to continue with the sale.

Where can you find a surveyor?

It’s really important that you use a qualified surveyor to carry out your report, whichever one you choose. It might be a good idea to use someone local, who will know the area and any common problems that there may be. You can search for a surveyor through the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) website – these professionals are regulated and have indemnity insurance to help protect buyers if something is missed. You can also search the Independent Surveyors and Valuers Association site too – these are an independent body of chartered surveyors.