Property Surveys

Instructing a survey when purchasing any home that isn’t a new-build is an absolute must! While it may seem like another cost, not having a survey done is just not a risk worth taking. Houses are more than likely going to be the biggest, most expensive asset you ever purchase. Surveys are there to check there are no issues with the house before you proceed with the purchase. Structural issues with a house severely affect its value and could leave you having to spend thousands out of your own pocket if they’re only discovered further down the line once you move in.

The mortgage lender will instruct a valuation of the subject property after a full mortgage application has been submitted. With most major high street lenders, this will be done free of charge. The mortgage valuation is the bank’s survey to check they are happy to lend their money against the security – your new property.

So if the bank does a survey, why should you pay to have your own survey done?

Well firstly, for those buying without a mortgage, there will be no bank involved so even the basic mortgage valuation isn’t there for any reassurance. A bank’s mortgage valuation is done purely on their behalf to check if they’re happy the property is worth what you have agreed to pay for it. The information contained in the report is not shared with you as the buyer. If issues are noted but they do not affect the value of the property, or your ability to get a standard buildings insurance policy, the issues will often not be raised with you.

Information contained within more detailed surveys relate to all manner of factors. Common examples include the presence of damp, asbestos and invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed; subsidence and heave; assessing the roof structure, wall cavities, insulation, building regulations, electrical safety and drainage amongst many other things.

Two main types of property surveys available to buyers – a homebuyer survey and a building survey. A homebuyer survey will be more thorough than a basic mortgage valuation and a building survey is the most thorough. For the majority of homes, a homebuyer survey will do the job just fine. A building survey is generally required for if you’re thinking of making structural changes to the property or there have been potential issues brought to your attention that you want investigated further. For very old, very large properties, a building survey can be worthwhile too. Both surveys are at your expense with quotes available from price comparison style sites. Generally, the higher the property value, the more expensive the survey and a homebuyer survey will be cheaper than a building survey, reflecting the time, work and expertise required. If you’re not sure who to use for a survey, the estate agent you’re buying through will likely have one or a selection of trusted local surveyors who they recommend.

Some mortgage lenders offer the option for you to instruct a homebuyer or building survey through their surveyors when the basic mortgage valuation is done. This can often be done at a reduced cost to what you could typically get sourcing a survey yourself. If you proceed with this option, the lender does not get a copy of the report instructed on your behalf, only their basic mortgage valuation report.

Not only does a survey help detect issues with the property before you proceed on the purchase, it can act like an insurance policy against issues uncovered further down the line that may not be covered by buildings insurance. If you instruct a survey which fails to identify something it should have, you will have recourse against the surveying firm who should have identified the issue. This is applicable on both homebuyers and building surveys.

For new build properties, instructing your own survey is often not necessary. House builders are required to meet specific safety and quality standards which are checked at various stages throughout the build. Most major house builders provide an NHBC warranty and this provides protection against construction-related issues for 10 years after you move into the property. This only expires after the 10 years so if you sell before this, subsequent owners will still benefit from the warranty too!. Of course, if you’re buying a new-build and still want to have your own survey done, this is possible just as with purchasing any other home.

For more information about surveys and if you want to discuss which survey would be most appropriate for the property you’re purchasing, feel free to get in touch. While we don’t have a business relationship with any surveying firms, we can help point you in the right direction of where to and where not to find a trusted surveyor in your area.