Would you reduce the stress and expense of moving house if you could? One simple stress-buster that you might not immediately think of is to order a building survey. Once you have found your ideal future home, this is a sound investment that could potentially save you £1000s. Research by The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) found that 4 in 5 buyers did not have a building survey carried out, and subsequently had to spend an average of £5750 repairing pre-existing problems.
A mortgage ‘survey’ is only a valuation
A building survey is different from a mortgage valuation (which is sometimes termed a ‘survey’). Mortgage valuations exist purely for the mortgage lender to check the value of the property, and might not even involve an in-person check.
In contrast, an independent building surveyor will visit the property and provide you with a report on its condition as well as any risks and defects.
How do I choose a surveyor?
You should always ensure that your chosen surveyor is a member of an accredited surveying body. The three main accredited surveying bodies in the UK are:
- – Rics https://www.ricsfirms.com/
- – Sava https://sava.co.uk/surveying-services/
- – RPSA https://www.rpsa.org.uk/
Recommendations for a good surveyor from family and friends can also be helpful – but always check to make sure they are accredited. Some surveyors will go further than others in helping you to understand the report results, so find the person and price which suits you.
What type of building survey should I get?
There are 3 main types of building survey, increasing in price depending on the complexity.
- Condition Report
Designed for newer homes (under 50 years old) in good condition, this report gives an overview of the property’s condition and will highlight any significant problems.
- Homebuyer Report / Home condition survey
The most popular survey, this provides more detail than a basic Condition Report. It will highlight problems including damp and subsidence, and anything which doesn’t meet current building regulations. The surveyor will list any problems which may affect the value of the property as well as including advice on needed repairs and ongoing maintenance. This survey will only identify surface level issues.
- Structural / Building Survey
A full structural survey. A good option if the house is over 50 years old, unusual or in poor condition. Whilst a surveyor will not check under carpets or behind walls, they will go into all accessible areas including attics and cellars, actively looking for issues.
At London Building Surveyors, we will tailor-make a survey to suit your requirements. For example, if you are planning a loft conversion, an extension or any major renovation works, we can comment specifically on this within our report.
My survey uncovered a problem. What now?
Many properties in London have problems that require immediate attention. Discovering them before you exchange contracts gives you a chance to either renegotiate the asking price or request that the sellers make the necessary repairs in exchange for receiving the original asking price. If you feel that the problems revealed are too much to take on, you are also in an informed position to withdraw your offer.
The first step is to speak to your surveyor, who will talk you through the results step by step so you fully understand the issues and any likely costs. Once you know where the problems lie, it is time to go to the seller and renegotiate. A Which? survey in 2016 found that nearly 70% of buyers who had a building survey done were able to either renegotiate the price or get the seller to fix the issues before completion. Of course if the problems are small you may not be able to achieve a discount, but at least you will be purchasing the property with a full awareness of any potential issues.
For more information on getting a building survey in London or to discuss our services, contact London Building Surveyors today.