Whether you’re a first time buyer or someone who has purchased property in the past, buying a home can be a daunting prospect and is likely to be one of the largest purchases of your life. Commissioning a home survey to tell you the condition of the property makes good sense.
And not only do these reports give you an idea of the general condition of the property, a survey can indicate any serious defects, provide you with details of future expenditure and advise you on whether a property is worth the money that is being paid.
If you are buying a property with a mortgage, your lender will arrange for a valuation to be carried out. This valuation survey indicates what the property is worth but it will not necessarily describe its condition. The valuer carrying out the valuation doesn’t necessarily have to tell you of any defects. Remember, a property with a large structural crack still has a value.
Faults in buildings are common. Some are serious and can get worse, such as settlement or structural movement, and will devalue the property. Some may lead to future problems such as rising damp causing timber rot, while others may be serious but easy to repair, such as a missing roof tile. In some buildings, defects are only detectable through specialist tests and your surveyor will be able to advise with regard to these.
RICS publish helpful home survey report guides for those thinking of buying a property. Other guides in the series offer advice on buying a home, boundaries and Party Walls.
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What are the benefits of a home survey?
Home Surveys are designed to help you find out the current condition of the house or flat you are interested in purchasing. Often, they can also help when it comes renegotiating the asking price of a property due to problems it may have.
What does a surveyor look for in a Home Survey?
As you would expect, a surveyor will inspect the inside and outside of the property you are looking to purchase, including any permanent outbuildings on the property’s land. Surveyors do a thorough check of the property and report on the structural condition – movement, dampness and the like – as well as the condition of windows and doors. A surveyor is not allowed to move anything covering floors – such as carpets, floorboards and furniture - or carry out any destructive investigation – such as hacking of plaster to investigate for damp. The surveyor’s role is purely observational to determine if and where any issues with the property are present and need to be rectified.
Additionally, when a survey is carried out, the surveyor will consider any services connected to the property, the condition of any outside areas, any dangerous materials, contamination and environmental issues surrounding the property. However, they will not conduct a specialist test, so the efficiency of any services to the property won’t be assessed and are only inspected on a visual level for any signs of wear and tear.
How much does a survey on a property cost?
The cost a survey will vary according to the location, size, age and value of the property you are looking to purchase. Therefore, you shouldn’t base the survey you have taken out on the cost alone. Choosing the wrong kind of survey can lead to big problems down the road as the lower cost surveys may not find the more serious problems in a property. Below is a summary of the three main kinds of RICS Home Survey that can be conducted.
RICS Condition Report
This is the most suitable survey for new builds and conventional homes that are in good condition. However, no property valuation is provided in this type of survey. It describes the condition of the property and identifies any risks and potential legal issues, as well as highlighting any urgent defects the property has. It is effectively a very basic survey and costs around £250.
RICS Homebuyer Report
Everything that is undertaken in the condition report is present in this kind of survey. It is more suited for conventional properties that are in a reasonable condition. It will help you find out if there are any structural problems such as damp, as well as any other hidden issues around the property. The Report includes a rating system which makes it easy to identify the most serious problems and a property valuation. It costs around £400 on average and will increase depending on property size.
RICS Building Survey
Building surveys are mainly aimed at larger or older properties and where major works may be required to be carried out. It provides similar coverage to the Homebuyer Report, but it is a much more detailed report and again uses a rating system that makes it easy to identify the most serious problems. Advice is provided on how to deal with some of the more common problems that can be found around a property, as well as the consequences of not dealing with any potential issues brought up in the survey. They typically cost around £600 depending on the size of the property.
Who pays for the survey when buying a property?
Typically, the buyer will pay for the home survey as they are the ones who want to be aware of any issues with the property before moving forward with the purchase. If you don’t get one and there are any issues with the property at a later stage, you will have very limited options. Of course, there is the risk that the purchase will fall through, and you’ll be out of pocket but that’s a risk of homebuying.Having a home survey taken out puts you at an advantaged position when it comes to negotiating and if there are issues totalling a few thousand pounds you may be able to reduce your offer to compensate for these. The survey would be evidence that the work needs to be done. Surveys include information on any issues with the property – including damp, structural issues, plumbing issues and other potential snags. Even if you are unlucky and end up having to pay for multiple surveys, the consequences of structural problems not being rectified can be far more devastating, so it’s worth thinking very carefully about.
How long does it take to do a home survey?
This depends on the type of survey that’s being conducted and the size of the property.Normally, an inspection will take between one and five hours, depending on the size of the property and the type of survey. All reports are issued within eight working days of inspection, and usually, a lot sooner.