Buying a house is usually the biggest investment you will make in your lifetime. So you have to make sure you do things right. Surveys are often the only way to find out exactly what you are buying, what repairs are needed, future maintenance and any other issues that are likely to crop up in the future. Simply viewing a property on one or two occasions will not necessarily reveal everything you need to know. We always recommend a survey, however property purchasers often do not proceed with one.

“Only 1 out of 5 Home buyers commission a Building Survey or at the lesser ‘Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) Homebuyers or Home Condition Reports before buying their new home” (Clutton Cox)

Reasons Why Buyers Often Do Not Get A Survey

There are a number of reasons why not everyone gets a survey. Here are some of the major reasons:

  • If you are buying a house with a mortgage, often purchasers think that their mortgage lender will cover everything;
  • If the property is new build, often purchasers think it is unnecessary;
  • They can be costly;
  • If the house is old, often purchasers think there is no need for a survey;
  • If the purchase price has been agreed and purchasers think they cannot negotiate or that there is no room for negotiation.

Why These Reasons Are Not Good Enough

For us, these reasons are not good enough. And here’s why:

  • Lenders are only protecting their own interests – not yours. They are making sure they do not lend too much to ensure it doesn’t impact the ability to re-sell the property. Some lenders do provide quite detailed valuations but this is usually not enough!
  • Properties built within the last 10 years come with a new build guarantee. However, these only cover major and minor defects in the first two years; after that it only covers major defects for 10 years. New builds are not always perfect so you should still obtain a survey (and there is a survey available which is aimed at new properties).
  • Plan for a survey in your moving budget. Just because it’s too expensive is not a valid excuse; repairs and improvements could cost substantially more!
  • Older properties often need a lot of upkeep and surveys will discover short term as well as long term areas of work.
  • You can negotiate on the purchase price if the survey reveals any problems/major works. The purchase price can be negotiated right up until the point of exchange.
  • Remember your solicitor will not visit the property so they can only advise you on the paperwork, replies from the seller’s solicitor, the results of your searches AND your survey. Surveyors can comment on the structural adequacy of alterations/additions to ensure that they meet the necessary planning and/or building regulation consents.

Types Of Surveys Available

Here are the most popular surveys that are available to you:

  • RICS Home Condition Report – this is aimed at new properties or properties in good condition. It outlines the condition of the property and details any urgent defects. Cost approx £250.
  • Home Buyers Report – this looks at the condition of the property as well as structural problems, damp, timber issues, central heating system, electrical installation and the roof. It does not look under floorboards or behind walls. Cost approx £400-500.
  • RICS Building Survey – this is the most extensive survey, suitable for all properties. This is also recommended if you plan on carrying out any alterations, if the property is older or large. It usually provides a structural report, highlighting defects, repairs and maintenance issues. The surveyor will normally give their opinion as well as detailed advice. It does not provide a valuation. Cost £600-1000 (depending on the value of the property).
  • A New-Build Snagging Survey – this looks at faults specifically in new properties e.g. plumbing, paintwork. Cost approx £300 +

There is a helpful summary of each type of Survey provided by the RICS which you can view here: RICS Home Survey Information Sheet: At-a-glance Survey Comparisons.

If you are buying a property and would like our advice on surveys, or any other matter, just give us a call on 01273 407 970.

by Natasha Challand