5 reasons you need a proper building survey

Let’s start with the biggest five reasons people don’t have their prospective new home properly surveyed:

  1. “The mortgage company did the survey.” No, they didn’t. They did a valuation report which confirms a property’s value, NOT its condition.
  2. “We can’t afford a survey.”  If you can’t afford a survey then you can’t afford the unforeseen and essential repairs.
  3. “My mate’s a builder and he looked at it and said it’s OK.” Is he a qualified surveyor?
  4. “The purchase price is agreed and we want the house anyway.” Regardless of the subsidence and damp?
  5. “The house is modern, so there’s nothing wrong with it.” Apart from the unconnected drains, but you knew about those…

All of the above are misguided views on the need for building surveys, as our response to each demonstrates. So here are the top five reasons you need to have your prospective purchase surveyed by a Chartered Surveyor.

1. We inspect a house – not a home

It’s an important difference – you’re busy working out who gets what bedroom, where your table is going and what colour to paint the kitchen. Your surveyor on the other hand has no emotional attachment to your chosen property and when they inspect they are busy looking for cracks, damp, woodworm, poor alterations, insulation, defective windows etc.

2. We’ll see things you won’t

Research shows that you will have spent around 38 minutes in total at the property and visited it twice before deciding to buy and that you are unlikely to go back until you own it. By contrast a surveyor will spend several hours at a property looking at it objectively. He will go in places you didn’t! Most home buyers never look in the attic, some don’t spend anytime walking to the end of the garden. Our tip – meet your surveyor at the property, you get to see it a third time and the surveyor can show you what he’s found.

3. We know what we are doing

Surveyors know what they are looking at and looking for – most home buyers don’t! Nice though your mate is, the one who does a bit of building and knows about buildings, he isn’t a surveyor, isn’t trained in forensic building investigations, the cause of subsidence, wet rot and dry rot etc. He is unlikely to have professional indemnity insurance and didn’t spend five years training to be a Chartered Surveyor and, because he’s your mate, won’t be as objective as someone who’s independent.

4. You’ll save money in the long term

A proper building survey will save you money. Research by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) shows that 20% of buyers who did not have a survey later uncovered faults, which cost £5,750 on average to remedy.  17% of new owners ended up paying more than £12,000 to make their homes habitable. A building survey will identify faults and remedial costs and enable you to make an informed decision and renegotiate the cost. Last year one of our surveys enable a purchaser to reduce the asking price by £20,000 and have the most serious of the faults (a defective roof) remedied by the vendor before the purchase was complete.  Here’s some examples – survey one, survey two

5. You’ll make a properly informed decision

If you tell the surveyor what your plans are before he goes then he can tell you how practical your proposals are – you would be amazed at the number of times we have to let a purchaser planning a loft conversion down because the attic is simply not big enough! If you are new to an area a local surveyor will have local knowledge about possible developments, noise, the best areas of town etc.

A survey is better value than you might think – get a quote now.

(Originally published by Steve Way, 7 February 2016)