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A brief look at surveys

A brief look at Surveys - why have one? And what do they cover?


Why have a survey done on a property you are buying?

So you have found your dream home, done one or two viewings which probably lasted less than 30 mins each. You might have spotted a few cracks, a window sill needing replacement and worn carpets but what haven’t you seen? A survey carried by a professional surveyor (RICS registered etc.) is a good way to find out more about the property you have fallen in love with. Getting a survey for a house or flat will increase your knowledge of the property and will give you a more accurate of idea of any costs required going forward.

What type of Survey should I go for?

There are three main types of survey:-
  • Condition Report
  • Homebuyer Report
  • Building Survey
Whichever one you choose could depend on age of property, condition of property, timeframe and cost.

What do they cover?

Condition Report

The cheapest and least thorough of the three

It provides an overview of the property identifying any risks and any urgent defects. Normally this would be used on smaller more modern properties which are built out of normal building materials.
It uses a traffic light system (Green thru Red) to show which items need the most urgent attention.
The report covers structural movement, damp, rot / woodworm and environmental problems in addition to reviewing the properties utilities, drains, heating, etc.
The report should show approximate costs to bring the property up to standard, which can be used to negotiate with the seller where applicable.

Home Buyer Report

The next step up
This report gives you a more in-depth analysis of your property. In addition to the Condition Report it might give you a valuation as well as information on the local environment and energy efficiency. 
The Home Buyer Report is suitable for properties up to 150 years old, which are in reasonable condition.

Full Building Survey

The daddy of surveys
This can also be called a structural survey and looks at both the properties condition but also its construction. The survey can be quite invasive for the seller as the surveyor will check the attic, behind walls, between floors and above the ceiling.
This type of survey suits larger, older, rundown or unusual properties. It is also used when doing renovation works.
The report often runs into many pages.

Summary – While surveys cost you money they can often highlight issues either missed by the buyer or not visible, and in the long run could save you money. If the survey finds nothing you will have peace of mind, backed up in black and white.

Look out for the next instalments:
What do the surveys cost
What happens if it highlights issues
What is the impact for the seller

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