Don’t be led by cost
Although getting a survey might seem like another unnecessary cost at a time when you’re already spending a lot of money, getting the right one can save you thousands of pounds in the long run by revealing hidden problems at an early stage.
You might be tempted to go for a cheaper, more basic survey, but it will be less likely to provide you with a detailed breakdown of what’s wrong with the property as well as how much it would cost to put things right.
Choose the survey that suits your house, not your bank balance. The right survey is worth stretching your budget for if the property warrants it.
Understand the types of survey on offer – and what’s best for your needs
While there are plenty of different types of survey available, the main options to consider are:
- Condition report: This will look at the condition of the building and identify any urgent defects or potential legal issues, as well as outlining a summary of risks. Costs from around £250.
- RICS HomeBuyer report: The most popular survey for home buyers, this starts at around £400 and will help you find out if there are any structural problems or issues such as damp, but won’t provide an estimate on how much remedial work will cost. However, it will usually include a property valuation, which is helpful in terms of renegotiation (which we’ll come to later).
- Building or full structural survey: This is the most comprehensive type of survey and can cost anything from around £600 to £2,000. While this may sound like a lot, it’s worth the investment for older houses or those which are clearly in need of major renovation as it gives a thorough breakdown of issues and identifies the options available to fix them, as well as potential costs for the work. One of our main pieces of survey advice for home buyers is that unusual houses (such as listed buildings or houses with thatched roofs) should be subject to this type of survey.
It’s worth noting that a mortgage valuation, which all home buyers getting a mortgage are subject to, is not actually a survey, although it may be sold to you as one. A survey is for the home buyer, whereas a mortgage valuation is aimed at the lender and is designed to satisfy them that the property is worth the money they’re lending you.
Almost every survey will throw up a list of problems you might not have expected, from issues with the roof to problems with the electrical wiring. It’s up to you how you want to proceed – if there’s £10,000 of work you weren’t expecting then it’s certainly fair to go back and renegotiate your asking price, or alternatively ask the seller to do the work before they leave the property.
Similarly, if the survey reveals a major problem you don’t want to deal with, then feel free to walk away from the purchase. You haven’t entered into a contract yet and it’s completely your decision.
Choose your surveyor wisely
One of the most important pieces of survey advice for home buyers to is to remember you can choose your own surveyor, even if your mortgage lender or estate agent has a preferred option.
You may feel more confident going with someone who’s been recommended by a friend or who has knowledge of the local market – just make sure they’re a member of a recognised body such as RPSA or RICS.
It’s also worth accompanying the surveyor when they do the survey if you can, as it gives you the chance to ask questions and point out any particular areas of concern.
Survey advice for home buyers: A summary
Buying a house is undoubtedly a stressful time, but our straightforward survey advice for home buyers should help give you much-needed peace of mind when you finally sign on the dotted line.
If you’d like to know more about getting a survey, get in touch with our friendly team of experts today – we’re always happy to help.