01254 774943

Building survey FAQs for house buyers

A buildings survey is a vital part of the home buying process. According to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), buyers who shun this part of the process could be costing themselves thousands in unforeseen maintenance and repairs once they’ve moved into a property.

But with a number of levels of survey on offer and so many variations of property on the market, it’s difficult to know exactly what to ask of your surveyor. In this post, we’ll address some of the most frequently asked questions asked by buyers looking to get the most out of their surveyor.

Is a mortgage valuation the same as a survey?

If you need a mortgage to buy your house then a lender will need you to pay for a mortgage valuation report. However, this is not a survey and shouldn’t be mistaken as such.

A mortgage valuation report is just that — a valuation of the property for the mortgage lender to confirm that the property is worth the amount that you want to borrow. However, this report will only highlight obvious defects.

On the other hand, a proper buildings surveyor works on the buyer’s behalf and will conduct a more detailed examination into the property’s structural integrity, repairs, maintenance and condition.

Do I need a buildings survey?

100% yes. Anybody buying a property should have a survey carried out first to make absolutely sure that the building is as advertised and up to scratch.

However, there are a number of different levels of survey you could choose from and which one of these you go for depends largely on the age and location of the property. As well as the mortgage valuation survey (detailed above), there are three main types of survey:

  • Building condition survey: comprising a comprehensive inspection and assessment on all accessible parts of a property
  • Full structural building survey: a more detailed examination and in-depth report into the construction and condition of the property
  • Defect report: a more detailed investigation into any potentially serious structural or material issues within a property.

What’s the difference between a building condition survey and full structural building survey?

The difference between these two surveys comes down to the level of detail that’s included in the examination of the property. The full structural survey is more detailed and as a result more expensive that the standard building condition survey and the one you go for will come down to the property you’re buying.

For a neglected or old (over 75 years) property, which is more likely to have hidden defects, it’s advisable to have the full structural report carried out. This will identify both minor and major structural defects and advise how to overcome these.

Surely if it’s a new house I don’t need one, right?

Even if you’re moving into a new home, its best practice to have a buildings survey carried out. Most new build homes come with a 10 year NHBC (New House Building Council) warranty. However, in practice, this warranty is subject to the original builder being willing to accept mistakes.

Even new buildings can have defects and when you think that you could be spending hundreds and thousands of pounds on a home, the cost of a survey is actually a relatively small price to pay if it ends up saving you time and money.

Can a survey lower the asking price of a property?

Basically, no survey can force a seller to lower the asking price of their property. However, it does stand a buyer in much greater stead for negotiation. Once you have the results of examination back from the surveyor, it’s up to you to decide whether the property’s asking price is too high. If it is, or if the maintenance and repairs fall outside of your budget, it’s up to you to present the facts to the seller.

I’m buying a listed property — do I need a different survey?

A full building survey is strongly advised for a listed property as it is more likely to have defects and any structural changes may be considerably more difficult to get approved.

Can a surveyor advise on energy efficiency?

In a nutshell, yes. All buildings reports (apart from the mortgage valuation report) will provide a buyer with information relating to the energy efficiency of a property.

However, all properties that are listed as for sale now require an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate), which must be obtained by the buyer. As well as detailing a property’s energy efficiency credentials, this should also highlight any improvements to be made with an indication of cost and potential savings.

Can a surveyor advise on the feasibility of an extension or renovation?

If you plan to renovate the house you’re buying, then a building survey is a must. Without a building survey you’re unlikely to get the planning permission required from the council to renovate as they need to be confident that the structure is sound.

However, beyond confirmation that the building is structurally sound, the likelihood is that you will need to specially request information about a specific extension or renovation work, and this may come at an additional cost.

Over to you

Although at first look surveys can seem like complex beasts, this needn’t be the case.  If in doubt, always make sure you choose a trusty surveyor — looking for RICS accreditation is a good place to start — and ask for their guidance on exactly which kind of survey you need and why.

In any case, it’s difficult to overstate how vital this part of the buying process the survey is in terms of saving money, time and stress. For more information about which survey you should undertake on your prospective property, or to find out more about the surveying process, call us on 01254 503200 or get in touch via the contact form.

Image used courtesy of pixabay.com

Subscribe to our mailing list

I want to...
  • 1st June 2014