Firstly, let’s be clear what a property survey actually is, as that word is used by many different organisations in the house buying process, and often each can have a slightly different meaning.
There are three different types of survey but fundamentally, house surveys will help you find out about the condition of the building and, if any issues are found, you can use them as a powerful bargaining chip to negotiate some money off the price to help put it right or get the problems fixed before you move in.
No! It’s a common misconception that a report on the condition of the house is included in this normally mandatory prerequisite survey that your mortgage provider will undertake. Valuation surveys are NOT a full condition survey, they are merely a check on whether the property is worth what you have paid and that the property is actually mortgageable. You will get a copy of the mortgage valuation, but it will not highlight problems you may find in a full survey.
Surveys are not compulsory - they are completely your choice. But, whilst it might not be the most fun thing to spend your money on, instructing a surveyor to carry out a property inspection could save you a lot of money in the long run.
A decision like this can depend on how experienced you are in property sale and resale, but they certainly will help anyone avoid any expensive surprises. Compared to the amount you spend buying the property, a few hundred pounds to have a survey done is fairly insignificant.
It depends which survey level you opt for – we’ve listed out the main options a little further down this blog, but you should expect to spend at least around the £250 mark.
We recommend that surveys are completed as soon as possible after an offer is accepted, to prevent any hold ups in the conveyancing process.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) offers three types of survey:
This is the lowest level of survey and consequently the cheapest. It is fairly basic and will give you the following information:
- Provides a traffic light system for each area of the property for buyers, very similar to a car health check;
o Green means everything seems ok, orange means there may be a problem and red means there is a serious issue and you will need to spend some money.
- Gives a summary of any of the property’s faults;
- Does not give any valuation advice;
- Suitable for newer properties in good condition;
- Costs around £250.
You can choose between survey only or a survey and valuation. It is more in depth and provides the following:
- Survey and valuation option will provide guidance on rebuild costs following fire etc. which will help with insurance quotes;
- Provides property condition ratings on multiple aspects including damp and subsidence;
- Doesn’t look beyond the floorboards or behind the walls;
- It advises on services, grounds and any issues for your legal advisors;
- During the inspection the Surveyor will observe any property relates risks or hazards, including issues which have existed for a long time and cannot reasonably be changed, or may present a health or safety hazard;
- Costs around £400;
- Suitable for very conventional properties in very reasonable condition.
This is the all singing all dancing option; but it’s not for everyone as it’s also the most expensive and does not normally include a valuation, so that would be additional cost. However, as this will provide detailed evaluation and cost of any recommended works you will still be able to use the figures here to negotiate repairs or price reductions before moving in.
- Very extensive, not just limited to areas within reach – the loft, under floorboards and behind walls will be checked;
- Includes damp testing, technical information on property construction,
- Particularly good option for listed buildings or older homes;
- Costs between £600 - £2000 dependent on house size.
You can also get a Home Condition Survey through the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA) rather than RICS; these are conducted by specialists in residential surveys and are independently checked to ensure consistency. They are very similar to the HomeBuyers report but also include in depth and useful information such as boundary information and internet speed. Depending on the size of property, these will cost between £400 - £900.
You can go direct to a surveyor; we would recommend using a RICS qualified one, so you can be sure of the quality of their assessments. You can head to the RICS website to do this.
Alternatively, and perhaps more simply if you are buying or selling a house with Robert Oulsnam, or if you just want some more advice on the types of property surveys on offer, get in touch with our survey department or call 0121 477 6768.