Building Survey or Homesurvey Report? How to Choose the Right Survey

image of bungalow, Kent

Full Building Survey

This was a detailed survey on behalf of a prospective purchaser of a bungalow constructed in the mid-1960s in Kent.

Building survey of bungalow, Kent

This was a detailed survey on behalf of a prospective purchaser of a bungalow constructed in the mid-1960s in Kent.

Our client had particular concerns regarding the performance and expected life of the large flat roof and wished to understand the costs of modernisation. Our survey also identified the presence of asbestos board in various locations and irregularities with the plumbing installation.

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Image of Edwardian house, Kent

Full Building Survey

Our client wished to return this Edwardian property of three self contained flats to a single dwelling.

Full building survey – Edwardian House, Kent

This substantial Edwardian house was converted to three self-contained flats during the 1950s and had not been the subject of any modernisation for at least 30 years. Our client wished to return the house to a single dwelling.

They required a building survey to identify the current structural condition, the scope of structural work necessary to reinstate the property and an assessment of the potential cost of all of the work, including reinstatement to a single dwelling. Our survey identified concerns with the roof, water penetration, the services and asbestos.

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Three bed Semi -Bromley, London

Full Building Survey

Our client wished to understand the condition of the property and that the structural alteration and extension work had been satisfactorily undertaken.

Full building survey – semi detached house, Bromley

Our client wished to understand the condition of the property and that the structural alteration and extension work had been satisfactorily undertaken. A detailed survey was able to confirm that all structural work was in satisfactory order and that the property was suitable for purchase.

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Buying a property to live or work in is the biggest financial commitment most people ever make. As many as 80% of buyers do not commission independent building surveys, homebuyer reports or other property inspections.

The right survey will almost certainly draw your attention to defects that you didn’t know existed, or the seriousness of which you may not have appreciated. It enables you to make an informed, objective and considered decision and, in many cases, to renegotiate your purchase price. Any defects identified on a property survey may mean you have considerable immediate or future expenditure to consider — in some cases you may decide not to buy at all.

Independent Advice

You may have carried some Google research about your future home but there’s nothing like proper expert advice by a Chartered Surveyor. RICS research estimates that one in five buyers who did not commission a survey find they need to spend an average of £5,750 dealing with defects that they did not know about. Suddenly a modest investment in a building survey or homebuyer report becomes money well spent in protecting your money and your biggest asset. Building surveys and homebuyer reports are designed to give you the information you need to make an informed and sensible offer on your future home. The publishers of Which? Magazine and The Council of Mortgage Lenders advise you to arrange an independent  building survey (sometimes called a structural survey) or homebuyer report before buying a property. We have some examples of the savings our surveys generated for purchasers:

Do not be confused by the valuation survey your bank or mortgage lender provides. This is an inspection carried out on behalf of your mortgage lender to determine the amount and terms of a mortgage offer. Your mortgage lender will probably ask you to pay for the valuation and may not send you a copy of the report. A valuation is not a detailed survey and you should not rely on it. If you have a low loan to value, the surveyor may simply undertake a drive-by inspection. Collier Stevens does not undertake valuation work and specialises in pre-purchase building surveys specifically for purchasers.  Read this RICS Consumer Guidance Note.

Types of Survey

There are two main types of survey — the homebuyer report (find out more here) and the building survey (find out more here) — although if you need just a specific defect looked at in detail then you can ask for a single defect report. A 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, but will NOT report any other shortcoming in the home you are looking at buying.  Take a look at examples of our surveys.

The Homebuyer Report is a level 2 survey. This is most suitable for conventional properties built in the last 50 years or so and which are in reasonable condition. The report will describe the condition of the property, identifies any risks and potential legal issues and highlights any urgent defects. It also includes advice on defects that may affect the value of the property with repairs. This is a lower priced service, the inspection and report are less detailed and briefer than a building survey.

The Building Survey is a level 3 report and is recommended for larger or older properties, or if you’re planning major works. This is the most comprehensive report and includes an in-depth analysis of the property’s condition, including advice on defects, repairs and maintenance options.

Take a look at our most commonly asked property survey questions or visit our detailed pages about each type of survey. You can get a quote our website or, give us a call — London 020 8295 1200, Kent 01303 23900 — and you can discuss the best option for your prospective home.  If you just need to make a quick enquiry complete this form and we will get back to you – want us to call you? Then can you let us have your phone number.

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