Getting a property survey is an important step for homebuyers and yet many people are tempted to cut corners here to save money. This could be a costly mistake. According to a study published by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in 2013, those people who choose to buy a property without a survey could, on average, end up with a repair bill of £5750.
A property survey gives buyers the opportunity to find out the condition of the property they hope to buy. Although a property might look fine to the untrained eye, a surveyor or house inspector can spot issues like damp, dry rot or subsidence that could prove very expensive to fix.
Buying a property without a survey can make buyers vulnerable to a nasty surprise once they have moved in. However, if buyers go into a sale armed with the facts about the condition of the property, they can ask for problems to be fixed before contracts are exchanged, they can negotiate a discount on the property to take into account repairs that have to be made, or they can decide to walk away from a problem home.
Choosing Someone to Carry Out your Survey
There are different types of property survey that provide different levels of information about a property. No matter which survey the buyers chooses, a qualified person should carry it out. Homebuyers can choose either a chartered surveyor who is a member of RICS, or a house inspector accredited by SAVA (Surveyors and Valuers Accreditation). This person should provide an independent and objective view of the property homebuyers would like to purchase.
A list of chartered surveys and accredited house inspectors can be found on the RICS and SAVA websites or buyers can ask their solicitor or financial advisor for a recommendation. Sometimes mortgage lenders will nominate a local surveyor or house inspector as part of the terms of the mortgage. Charges will vary, so buyers should get a range of quotes and then decide which surveyor or house inspector offers the best value for them.
Different Types of Survey
There are several types of survey that go into different levels of detail about the condition of a property. The cost of the survey varies depending on the size and age of the property concerned, as well as the individual surveyor or housing inspector, so it is worth getting a range of quotes.
Generally, the cost of a survey starts at about £250 for a Home Condition Report and rises to more than £700 for a full Building Survey. The type of survey buyers choose should be based on the age and condition of the property they would like to purchase, as well as whether they are planning to carry out renovation work after they have exchanged contracts.
Please note that a Mortgage Valuation is not a property survey, but is carried out by a valuer (or sometimes a computer programme) to check whether the property is worth the asking price. The lender will arrange for the valuation as part of the mortgage agreement and usually the buyer will pay for it. The valuer is only concerned with making sure that the mortgage lender will be able to get their money back in case of default. The homebuyer will not automatically receive a copy of the mortgage valuation (but if the buyer has a good relationship with the lender it should be possible to get a copy). The valuation will include the age of the property, the number of rooms and the valuation itself, but will not include information such as any structural problems that need to be fixed.
In addition, an Energy Performance Certificate must be provided for every property on the market and is usually available from the seller or the estate agent advertising the property. The certificate provides information on the building’s energy efficiency, with rating ranging from A-G. Anything rated A-C is above the UK average.
Available Property Surveys
A Home Condition Report (HCR) is carried out by accredited house inspectors and describes the condition of the property, with a summary of any risks and potential legal issues. It uses a traffic light system to highlight any matters that should be investigated before buying the property. The Home Condition report will not include a valuation of the property and so cannot be used as an alternative to a mortgage valuation.
A HomeBuyer Report (HBR) is carried out by a surveyor and covers the structural safety of the property, including issues such as damp and anything that doesn’t meet current building regulations. It is suitable for modern properties in reasonable condition and includes a short report with advice on defects that may affect the value of the property and the costs of any necessary repairs. The HBR also includes a market valuation and the cost of rebuilding the property for insurance purposes.
A Building Survey is the most expensive survey, and gives a detailed picture of the condition of a property. This survey is suitable for all properties, but it is particularly useful for older buildings, for properties that have undergone extensive renovation and for more dilapidated homes. If homebuyers are planning to convert or renovate the property, a building survey is essential. Buyers can ask the surveyor to look into any aspects of the property that causes them concern, such as dry rot or walls that lean in the wrong direction. The survey will provide in-depth analysis on the structural condition of the property and confirm whether it complies with current building regulations. The survey will also offer advice on defects, repairs and maintenance options. It might also suggest that some issues are looked into in even greater detail.
A New Building Snagging Survey is a specialist survey for new homes that ensures that any mistakes that have occurred during construction are put right. This could include faulty plumbing, boundary issues or poorly finished paintwork. The independent surveyor will be able to arrange for the developer to sort out any defects found before the homebuyer exchanges contracts.