Working in property sales we regularly get asked this question. There are a number of surveys available.
Choosing the right survey for your property.
There are five different levels and types of surveys to consider when buying a home. Some are unavoidable, such as mortgage valuations. Others, although not a legal requirement, are worth considering.
This is often considered by buyers as the equivalent to a survey – but it isn’t.
Although you may pay for it, it protects your lender. If the report doesn’t highlight a problem, there is no comeback. It is purely a lender’s check that the property you are buying is as described.
If you are buying a new-build, it should have passed building regulation inspections and have a certificate from an insurance company. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t need checking, though.
A snagging survey looks for mistakes made by building contractors, such as poorly painted walls, missing screws on door hinges and wonky switches. The benefit of this survey is that by ensuring on exchange that completion is subject to fixing any problems highlighted in a snagging survey, the developer would need to put these things right to get their money.
Home condition report
This survey is for anyone buying a property that appears to be in ‘good condition’ but would still benefit from being checked for potential problems you may not see, such as hidden damp, woodworm or structural movement. The report will help cost likely future repairs.
It should highlight the legality of alterations and additions made to the property and estimate how much the re-building costs are so you can secure a quote for buildings insurance.
The report will mirror the Home Condition Report and include advice and possibly an independent valuation of the property.
If the value of the property suggested is less than you have offered, it doesn’t mean you have to pull out of the sale. Talk to the surveyor about how easy and expensive it will be to fix any problems. Use this information to negotiate the price down and if the seller won’t budge, consider whether to carry on buying or pull out. Your surveyor will be experienced with these negotiations, so use them to help you.
This survey is vital for older character properties. It’s also wise to have this survey if you are planning major works such as a loft conversion or extension.
A building survey looks in great detail at the condition and any defects the property may have and potential to extend. If agreed, the surveyor would also give detailed costing’s of rectifying problems.
What if you have had a survey, move in and find something wrong?
In the case of a mortgage valuation or snagging survey, there is typically no comeback. If you have bought a new- build, the developer (or after two years, the insurance company) should step in to repair defects.
If you have had a home condition report from a member of the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA), the service comes with an insurance which, according to Mike Ockenden, who runs RPSA, “will make good the cost of any repairs that need to be made”. As the insurance is attached to the report, not the surveyor, even if they go out of business or stop practising, the buyer can still make a claim.