When is an independent survey, not a survey…

There are a couple of instances when you may be told you have had an independent survey – but that may not necessarily be a as independent as you think, or actually a survey. Here’s why…

  1. When it’s a mortgage valuation survey – The valuation only tells the mortgage company they can lend you the money. You might not actually even see the ‘survey’. An independent private building survey commissioned by you, for you, will tell you plenty and the mortgage company nothing.
  2. When it’s not really independent. For instance, when the surveyors recommended by the estate agent are actually owned by the estate agent (happens more than you think – no pressure there to paint a property in a positive light then…) or when the survey is carried out by the mortgage company’s surveyor at the same time as the valuation report… The mortgage company will often try and sell you a survey that will be the same but more expensive than ours.

We recommend you use a firm of independent chartered building surveyors (like us) and you’ll get a better report cheaper. Ideally choose a firm of surveyors relatively local to where you want to buy – they will know the area and its property. We are reminded of an incident some years ago when a client had commissioned a survey in London though their building society and found that the surveyor was coming from Bristol!

If you are confused as to which survey you need try this quick guide:

  • If the house is modern have a Homebuyer Report, if it’s old you’ll need a Building Survey
  • If you want specialist advice such as comment on alteration and costs you’ll need a building survey.
  • If you want to chance it and gamble against future bills, don’t bother with any survey at all.

Get a quote for your survey from Collier Stevens, independent chartered building surveyors in London and Kent.

(Originally published by Steven Way, 12 June 2012)