Questions about Building Surveys

More information about our Building Surveys & Homebuyer Reports

Does my Building Society do my survey?

A Building Survey or Homebuyer Report is not the same as the valuation report, which is commissioned by a mortgage lender. Although the valuation is often called the “building society survey”, it is limited in its scope and principally confirms to a lender that the property is suitable security for a mortgage. The report is brief and only provides information required by a mortgage lender. You will not always see a copy.

Very often, your mortgage lender will suggest that their surveyor carries out your private survey. That’s fine, but they are not wholly independent — quite a lot of mortgage lenders have their own firms of surveyors, as do large estate agency chains.

Even with the ‘discount’ offered by building societies, we find that our survey fees are significantly more competitive in most cases than theirs.  Despite what they may tell you, you do not have to use their surveyor for your private survey. Call us to find out more or ask us for a quote.

Do I need a building survey or homesurvey report?

That depends on the type of property you are buying.

A full building survey (sometimes referred to as a Structural Survey) is a customised service suitable for all residential properties and gives full details of their construction and condition. These inspections and reports are usually tailored to your needs. The report includes detailed technical information on materials and construction and details of the whole range of defects. Take a look at one of our building survey Case Studies here.

A full description of our Building Survey service is available here.

A homesurvey report (or HomeBuyer Report) includes an inspection and report in a standard template format. It is suitable for houses, bungalows, and flats that are apparently in reasonable condition and traditional construction. It is unlikely to be appropriate for property more than 50 years old. It identifies what the surveyor considers to be the most critical issues.

A full description of our Homesurvey service is available here

A Single Defect Report concentrates on one particular defect specified by you. For instance, evidence of movement, dampness or structural failure. It will report upon the cause of the defect and any remedial works necessary.

A full description of our Single Defect Inspection service is available here.

The RICS consumer guidance note provides some more help.

How long does the survey take?

The length of time the inspection takes depends on the size of the property and the extent of any defects that may be identified. For guidance, an inspection of a typical three-bedroom house in good order may take several hours. More significant properties and properties with multiple defects will take more time. For very big houses two surveyors may work together.

Can I meet the surveyor on site?

If you have commissioned a Building Survey, then you can request this. We can only offer this by prior arrangement as we have to make sure the vendor is content for this to happen — sometimes they say no — and we also ask for payment before the survey. Please ask when you book your survey.

We will give you a time to meet us, which will usually be towards the end of our survey. Any earlier and we won’t be able to tell you anything substantive — please note that we cannot do our job properly if you stay for the full inspection as it is distracting and prevents us from giving you the best service. We find that usually, around 20 minutes is enough for us to explain our findings to you.

Do your surveyors talk in technical terms?

Only if you want them to, most of the time, we talk in plain English. We will spend as long as you need to explain something to you when you have received your survey.

How long does the report take to prepare?

We try, wherever possible, to dispatch our report a week or so after the inspection. Building surveys usually comprise of more than 60 or 70 pages. They and are individually written, which takes time, and we often have to research site-specific issues that we have found. If required, a brief verbal report can be made available upon receipt of payment.

How many pages do I get?

How many do you want? If we used bullet points, we might be able to get it across to you in three pages. If you want 100 pages, we can waffle away with the best of them. We think you’ll like our usual reporting style, which runs to around 65 pages. That gives us enough space to discuss our findings in the report properly. See an example building survey.

What's your small print like?

Our insurers require us to cover our rear ends quite a lot of the time. We would prefer not to because we are confident in our abilities, but it’s their requirement.

So yes, our surveys do have “get-out” clauses, but we do not hide behind them. Our surveys are always definitive. We’ll report on what we can see and not on what we can’t. We can’t guess, but we can give a considered opinion.

Our small print is easy to understand, and we stick by our quoted fee if the property is as you described it to us.

Please take a look at our Survey Terms and Conditions.

How do I pay? Can I pay cash?

Yes, of course, but please don’t expect us to knock off the VAT or do a deal. We leave that to the bloke in the pub who knows a bit about buildings, but nothing about surveys!

You can pay for your survey by bank transfer and all major credit and debit cards. All the bank branches have been closed down so regrettably we no longer accept cheques.

Are you insured?

Yes. The RICS require us to carry comprehensive professional indemnity insurance as well as employers and public liability insurance.

How can I research a property I'm interested in?

There’s lots of online information available. We recommend you always check the planning website – you can see what alterations may have happened to the house and find out what developments are planned locally.  Is the neighbour planning a giant extension?  But there are lots of other sources – try these.  We also have a couple of blog posts dedicated to researching the history of buildings, and researching homes.

Take a look at one of our recent case studies on a building survey we’ve completed, take a look here or have a look at examples of our building surveys.