You may think you have found your dream house but beneath the surface, what exactly are you buying?
Before you hand over your money, you will need to have an expert give it the once over, which is where the surveyor comes in.
Your home is likely to be the biggest purchase you will ever make, so having a survey can be a worthwhile precaution.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors says a survey offers not only peace of mind, but could potentially save you thousands of pounds in costly repair bills in the future.
Your solicitor will also encourage you to get a survey done. While looking round the home, you may have wanted to ignore the large crack which dominates the living room.
The estate agent may have told you the holes in the roof were "character" but a surveyor can give you a better idea of the potential damage to your bank balance.
A survey not only offers peace of mind, but could potentially save you thousands of pounds in costly repair bills in the future.
Your mortgage lender will send a specialist valuer to work out how much the property’s worth so they can decide whether to give you a mortgage or not.
But the valuer is only concerned with problems that might affect the security of the loan, not whether you have any structural problems that need fixing.
The surveyor will see if there are any structural problems. It is like a ‘health check’ for buildings, which could save you thousands in the future.
There are two main types of survey:
Homebuyer Survey and Valuation (HSV)
This is most suitable for conventional properties built within the last 150 years, which are in reasonable condition.
It provides a concise report detailing any significant problems that could make a difference to the value of the property.
A Building Survey is a comprehensive inspection of a property. It's suitable for all properties, especially:
- Listed buildings
- Older properties
- Buildings constructed in an unusual way, however old they are
- Properties you plan to renovate or alter in any way
- Properties that have had extensive alterations
It examines all accessible parts of the property - and you can ask to have specific areas included, so it covers any particular concerns you have about the building.
Homebuyer Survey and Valuation (HSV)
The Homebuyer Survey is often cheaper than a building survey and concentrates on the main essentials, namely the problems that need to be repaired straight away or are going to have to be carried out in the very near future.
It also covers a lot of other aspects as well, but not in so much depth.
What it also will tell you straight away is whether you should really be buying the property if it does have building issues, some will also suggest the rough price of the work that needs to be carried out so you can then reduce these costs against your offer.
Most solicitors will suggest that you get the best report you can afford to ensure you get as much information as possible.
This is suitable for all residential properties, providing a detailed report on their construction and condition.
It is particularly useful if the property is dilapidated, has been extensively altered or you’re planning a major conversion or renovation.
It might cover the following:
- Major and minor defects and what they could mean
- The possible cost of repairs
- Results of damp testing on walls
- Damage to timbers – including woodworm and rot
- The condition of damp-proofing, insulation and drainage (though drains aren’t tested)
- Technical information on the construction of the property and the materials used
- The location
- Recommendations for any further special inspections.
Your surveyor will report on all the parts of the property they can easily reach. They don't inspect under carpets or furniture, and they don't test the water supply or wiring - though they'll comment on their condition.
The costs may vary on the survey so shop around - get quotes from different local surveyors and ask them about the service they offer.