Why should I have a Survey? And when should I have one?

A survey is a type of ‘health check’ for a building and will identify potential problems with it.  The results of a survey should help you to make a more informed decision about the building and offer reassurance and peace of mind.  If you are unfamiliar with these reports, the technical language can occasionally be alarming.  But you can relax with us; our expert surveying consultants can explain all the points.

If you are buying a property, you should have a survey done before you exchange contracts with the vendor.  A survey can actually save you money, especially if serious problems are identified as you can often renegotiate the sale price of the property to reflect the cost of necessary repairs, or you may decide not to proceed at all.

Survey Types:

  • RICS Level 1 Home Inspection Survey
  • RICS HomeBuyers Survey
  • RICS Full Building Survey (also known as Full Structural Survey)

Why isn’t a Mortgage Valuation enough?

A mortgage valuation is not a survey.  Instead, it is a limited review of the property that your mortgage lender carries out.  The purpose is to assure the Lender that they can recoup the loan value in case of default.

Many lenders provide you with a copy of the report, but it is unlikely to cover items of detail which would be picked up in a RICS HomeBuyers Report or a RICS Full Building Survey.

To reveal structural or other potential problems with the property that could prove costly we would recommend a RICS HomeBuyers Report or a RICS Full Building Survey.  We can help you decide which is appropriate dependent on your situation.

What is a RICS HomeBuyer Report or a RICS HBR?

A RICS HomeBuyer Report (HBR) is a survey done to a standard format set out by the Royal Institution of Charted Surveyors (RICS).  It is most suitable for conventional properties of traditional construction, in reasonable condition and free from obvious structural defects.

It does not list every aspect of the property and mainly focuses on urgent matters needing attention.  If you are planning major alterations, or extensive renovation, we would recommend a full Building Survey.

What is a RICS Full Building Survey?

A RICS Full Building Survey (sometimes called a Structural Survey) is done to a standard format set out by the Royal Institution of Charted Surveyors (RICS).  It is a comprehensive property inspection and provides a detailed written report.  Whilst suitable for all types of buildings, it is especially suitable for listed buildings, older properties, rare and unusual buildings as well as conversions or properties selected for renovation.  It examines and identifies all accessible and visible parts of the property and includes information on the method of construction, materials used, details of faults, potential problem areas, environmental considerations, the general location and surrounding areas.

Recommendations for repairs or improvements will be given where possible or required.  If further detail is needed a further specialist inspection / investigation may be recommended.  The contents of the report will be dependent on the property age and type.  Where you have specific concerns or requirements of the building, these can be addressed during the survey.

How much should I expect to pay for a RICS Full Building Survey (also known as a Structural Survey)?

RICS Full Building Survey costs vary by supplier and region, additionally property size and value affects the cost.  We recommend this type of survey for a property which is Listed, in poor condition, or known to be suffering from building defects.

As a very rough guide for properties located within the South East, we feel a RICS Full Building Survey for a three bedroom house or flat should cost in the region of £1,000.

The selling agent of the property appeared keen to sell me a homebuyers report. Is there any reason for this?

Be careful here as many estate agents have formal or informal associations with Building Surveyors so that surveys can be at the convenience of the vendor.  Some purchasers may feel this a conflict of interest and would prefer to use a surveyor they know, or have chosen themselves.

We are independent building surveyors, consultants, and property experts.  We’re unbiased and will give an accurate appraisal of the property you’re looking at.  We would usually visit a property within 5 days of your initial contact with us.  We’re a forward looking company and are happy to accept your instruction by email, and equally, to issue our reports electronically to reduce reliance on the post.

What information does the surveyor need before carrying out a survey?

Ideally the surveyor should have as much information as you do.  The more information the surveyor has about the building, the better equipped they are to advise you.  If available, the sort of information that can be of assistance includes:

  • The lease (for leasehold houses and flats)
  • Previous planning permissions, alterations or building regulation approvals
  • Service charge budgets or previous service charge accounts (for leasehold houses and flats).
  • Previous structural issues and repairs
  • Environmental risks such as flash flooding

If the survey identifies defects to the building; can I reduce the agreed price with my vendors?

Often, when a survey identifies new defects, or reveals known defects to be more serious or expensive than expected, purchasers feel the need to renegotiate the purchase price with the vendor.

Our Surveyors will ensure you are fully informed of the expected cost to bring the building up to an appropriate condition; this would include advice on essential work and future maintenance.  This information will support your decision to purchase and any renegotiation.

I am buying a Listed property; what should I be aware of?

Local Authorities list buildings that are considered to have a historic or cultural significance in order to preserve them in their entirety for historical importance and heritage.  Many home owners consider it a privilege to live in a Listed Building as these are often interesting or unusual properties; making them a unique place to live.

The enjoyment of owning a Listed Building has some implications that you should be aware of: primarily; alteration carried out without Local Authority permission is considered a criminal offense and can result in a fine or even imprisonment in the most severe cases.

In order to execute any work to a Listed Building; formal approval from the Planning Department of the Local Authority is typically required.

There are different categories of Listed Building, with different levels of standard applied.  As such, works of repair or maintenance may also require approval, with specialist repair methods or materials mandated, this can have cost implications greater than those using modern methods and materials.  Additionally, Local Authority approvals can add to the expected time and cost of the endeavor.

We are here to help you through the entire process.