When you’re on the hunt for a new home, it’s essential that you know exactly what condition it’s in – as appearances can be deceiving!
The last thing anyone wants to be surprised by is costly, time-consuming issues after you move in. That’s why making sure you get the right kind of house survey is a worthwhile investment - so you know exactly what sort of property you’re buying.
So which house survey is the most appropriate? Well, there are three standard house surveys you could consider when buying a new home.
This should be the cheapest of the three main house surveys – it might even be free but if it’s not the cost is in most cases determined by the value of your home. What you pay is set by the mortgage provider you’ve applied to, and more expensive homes could mean larger Valuation fees. It is ultimately carried out for your lender’s benefit, in order to confirm that the purchase price is aligned to the current property market and that the property’s value meets the level of security required for the purposes of the mortgage agreement.
A Valuation Report should also take the least amount of time to complete, and will generally involve a mortgage surveyor valuing the house based on factors such as the current state of the housing market, the general condition of the building and the values of nearby houses that have recently sold. They can also be carried out without anybody visiting the property, and may sometimes just consist of a surveyor driving past. It may also contain suggestions for further checks to be carried out.
Unless you are among the lucky few who are able to pay for your house without having to get a mortgage, a Valuation Report is required of you. This is to reassure lenders that they won’t lose any money if, for any reason, they take possession of your property and sell it to recoup their loan. Regardless of whether you’re taking out a mortgage, it’s a good idea to get a Valuation Report anyway to make sure there are no glaring issues with your potential future home.
If the home you’re planning to buy is brand new, you might decide that a Valuation is sufficient and further checks won’t be necessary. This is especially the case if your home is covered by the NHBC Buildmark warranty, which gives you protection should your home encounter any problems due to a builder’s negligence.
If you would like more detailed information about the condition of the house you are hoping to buy, a Homebuyer Survey could reveal any problems that may have previously gone unnoticed. This survey can often be carried out at the same time as a Valuation Report, which could save time. Unlike a Valuation, this is commissioned by you - and carried out for your benefit - rather than your lenders.
Typically costing in excess of £250, this survey will consist of a strictly visual inspection. This means that carpets, floorboards and floor coverings will not be taken up, furniture will not be moved and secured panels and electrical fittings will remain where they are. For this reason, the inspection does not encompass every detail of the property but gives a visual overview of it.
A Homebuyer Survey should be able to give you an overview of the general condition of the building and bring to attention any urgent problems that need addressing. The surveyor will test whether or not there is damage to any woodwork and inform you of the state of the drainage and insulation. Any visible issues that could affect the value will be brought to your attention and you will be informed of the value of the home on the open market. While a Valuation Survey is carried out by your mortgage provider, you can choose an independent surveyor to conduct a Homebuyer Survey.
Full Structural Survey
The most thorough of the three surveys, a Full Structural Survey can be carried out on all properties, and it’s a good idea to consider this if you are looking at purchasing an older building, or planning to renovate it in the future. Prices for this kind of survey typically cost up to £1,000, but can exceed this depending on the value of the property.
This survey will test the same areas covered by a Homebuyer Survey in more detail. It will outline how the property is constructed and the materials used, both major and minor issues and the problems they may cause, as well as information about the location. Further suggestions for specialist inspections that may be required could also be included.
A Full Structural check is the most encompassing of the surveys, and should be seriously considered before you put a deposit down on a property.
Where do I go from here?
When it comes to protecting your new home from future faults, it’s important to see these surveys as a kind of insurance. Investing the time and money now may help to protect your future self from footing the bill for costly repair work at a later date.
Of course, even if the surveys do reveal faults in a property, you could use this new information as a bargaining chip when putting down an offer, as any issues are likely to lower the value of the house. The money saved could be used to carry out the repair work yourself, or to hire a professional to do it before you move in.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.