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What is a property survey?

When purchasing a new home it is always advisable to have to have a property survey carried out so you are aware of any areas of concern such as damp, electrical problems or structural issues. Many home buyers, however, choose not to go ahead with a property survey as they do not wish to pay the extra cost and believe instructing a surveyor will delay the home buying process. Neither is a reason to decide against having a survey carried out.

The survey report will highlight any major faults with the property and may recommend additional investigations, making you aware of potentially costly repairs and allowing you the opportunity before exchange to renegotiate the purchase price.

TRUE Solicitors conveyancing team outlines the different types of property surveys available and which is most appropriate to your needs.

What is a property survey?

A property survey is conducted by a professional chartered surveyor to examine the condition of the property that you are buying. The surveyor will complete an inspection of the property, reporting back on any issues, such as structural problems or any major repairs. They may, for example highlight the need for an electrical re-wire or need to fix a leaking roof. The report will also state things such as the type of glazing and type of brickwork included in the property.

Why do I need to get a property survey?

Although it isn’t mandatory to get a property survey, it is a wise investment to avoid unwanted issues which could end up costing you thousands in the future.

If issues are highlighted in the survey, you will be recommended to obtain specialist quotations so you are aware of the likely repair costs.  This will afford you the opportunity to renegotiate with the seller on the price you have agreed to pay. For example if the property needs an electrical re-wire that will cost £5000 and the property has been down valued accordingly, it is common practice  to ask the seller to reduce  the price accordingly, or ask them to complete the work before exchange..

Whilst a survey is recommended for every home buyer, it should be viewed as a necessary expense for those buying a property that:

  • is a listed building
  • has a thatched roof or timber frame
  • is an old or unusual build
  • is in poor condition

What are the different types of property survey?

There are different types of property survey available. They differ according to the level of detail that they go into. You can choose from the following survey types:

1. Mortgage Valuation

A mortgage valuation is technically not a survey and is required by all mortgage providers, in order for them to assess how much the property is worth. It allows the lender to ensure that the value of the property provides an adequate level of security against the loan. A mortgage valuation will only report back on obvious major issues with the property, and will not provide any further detail on how much it will likely cost to remedy such problems. The cost of a mortgage valuation typically starts at around £350 and will increase in accordance with the size and value of the property.

2. Homebuyers Report

A Homebuyers Report is a more detailed report and will highlight any structural issues such as damp or subsidence, as well as any other issues to the interior and exterior which may not have been obvious to the naked eye. The report doesn’t however go as far as to look under the floorboards or behind walls.

A Homebuyers report uses a traffic light system to highlight the condition of the different parts of the property – green indicating that everything is in good condition, orange showing some cause for concern and red indicating that there is a need for serious repairs.

There are two different types of Homebuyers Report:

HomeBuyers Report (survey only): This option costs around £350 and will check for major issues, but will not offer a valuation of the property.

HomeBuyers Report (survey and valuation): This option costs around £450, but along with a full inspection of the property it also includes a valuation and an insurance reinstatement value.

3. RICS Building Survey

A RICS Building Survey is a good option if you are buying a property that is particularly old, large or you are planning major renovations.

The Building Survey has the same traffic light rating system as a HomeBuyers Report, highlighting any major issues. The survey does however go into further detail by checking behind walls, inspecting between floors and above ceilings, as well as checking over the attic. The report will also provide advice on the repairs needed, including estimated costs and timings, along with what further damage is likely to result if you fail to carry out the repairs. The report varies in cost depending on the size of the home, it typically costs between £500 and £2000.

How much does a property survey cost?

Property survey costs differ depending on which level of survey is chosen. They can vary from as low as £350 to as high as £2000.

Do I need a survey if I am purchasing a new build property?

New build properties are not without fault, a ‘snagging’ survey should be carried out to identify any minor or major defects prior to you moving in. The cost for a snagging survey is usually around £300 to £600.

It is best to complete a snagging survey before exchanging contracts, if the property developer allows you access to the site. This way you can arrange to have any problems fixed prior to you moving in. If the developer won’t give you access then you should arrange for the snagging list to be completed as early as possible after moving in.

Where do I find a good surveyor?

When looking to instruct someone to complete your property survey it is essential to check that the surveyor is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA). You can use their websites to search for recommended surveyors in your area. Your property solicitor, mortgage lender or estate agent will be able to recommend a good surveyor to you.

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