If you’re buying a house you will need to consider whether a house survey is needed. Whilst surveys aren’t a legal requirement it is highly advised to get a full health check on a property before exchanging contracts. Typically, a house survey is conducted once an offer has been accepted and helps highlight any issues with the house regarding its structure.
This article will help you understand house surveys, the different options available, and what surveyors are assessing when visiting a property.
What is a house survey?
Think of a survey as an MOT for a property. A surveyor will inspect a house and determine whether there are any structural issues such as subsidence, damp, or damaged roofing. The report provided will detail any repairs that need to be made. Extra information will also be provided on the property such as the type of glazing and structural makeup. It is usually the home buyer that arranges and pays for the survey after they’ve had an offer accepted.
Is a mortgage valuation the same as a survey?
It is worth remembering that a house survey is different to a mortgage valuation. If you’re a buyer, the mortgage lender will visit the chosen property to determine how much it is worth. This will enable the mortgage company to evaluate whether the property is enough of an asset to warrant giving you, as the buyer, a mortgage. Mortgage valuations cost upwards of £350 but some lenders do provide them for free.
Who carries out property surveys?
If you’re buying a new house you may want a qualified surveyor to carry out the health checks on your home. Selecting a qualified house surveyor who is a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is wise because they carry professional indemnity insurance. Searching for an RICS qualified surveyor in your area can be beneficial as they will be experienced in assessing homes just like yours and be aware of the local market. The cost of a home survey varies and will depend on the size of the property you’re buying. Furthermore, if you’ve put an offer in on an unusual property – think a historical building or windmill – you should expect to pay a little more for a surveyor experienced in quirky homes.
Are property surveys compulsory?
If you’re buying a house you don’t have to get a survey completed. It is not a legal requirement, and no estate agent or mortgage lender should pressure you to have one. However, it is highly recommended that you do so to avoid buying what you think is your dream home, only to find out it’s riddled with issues. It is often worth spending a few hundred pounds on a survey to avoid spending thousands further down the line fixing a property you’ve just purchased.
If the survey highlights any issues you will also have grounds to negotiate the price. Alternatively, you may ask the seller to fix any problems before you buy.
Are there different types of home surveys?
There are a number of different surveys available. The one you choose will be dependant on the budget you have in mind and how in-depth you require the surveyor to be. Some people buying older properties prefer a rigorous property survey, whereas those buying newer homes may not require such extensive reporting.
This is the most affordable survey choice, typically starting at around the £300 mark. It offers a basic overview of the property and doesn’t go into much detail.
According to the RICS this is the most popular choice for buyers. You can choose to have this type of survey conducted with or without a valuation.
The survey only option costs upwards of £350 and will report on any obvious issues such as rot or subsidence. The surveyor will not go beyond the basics, so any structural problems that aren’t obvious won’t be reported (such as hidden wiring or underfloor problems).
The survey plus valuation option costs £450 or more. A detailed survey will be carried out, plus a valuation and an insurance reinstatement value.
Home condition survey
Home condition surveys cost between £400 and £900. This type of survey is not offered by the RICS, but rather the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA). A thorough structural report will be provided, along with details on damp, boundaries, and broadband speed.
The RICS also provide building surveys. Whilst they are the most expensive option (upwards of £500) they are extensive and no stone will be left unturned. The surveyor will assess attics and basements, as well as ceilings, under floors and within walls. The final report will not only deliver on repairs that need doing but will also dictate associated timings and costs. The surveyor will also detail what could happen if the repairs were not carried out, providing you with ammunition to negotiate price or repairs by the seller before you commit.
Should I get a house survey before I buy a new build property?
New build homes are a little different. Most companies offer a snagging survey before you exchange and cost £300 to £600. Some new build developers will have a snagging survey company they prefer to use. However, you are within your right to select a surveyor that has no ties with the new build development for added assurance.
The snagging survey will identify problems which need fixing before you move in. This type of survey will highlight even the smallest issues, such as misaligned plug sockets or ill-fitting doors that catch on the installed carpet. You can also get a snagging survey completed once you move in (which is commonplace with development plots that were not available to view during the purchase process as they were not built).
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