Buying a house is likely to be the biggest purchase you’ll ever make and it makes good sense to find out as much as you can about the property you are thinking of buying.
A survey will inform you of the general condition of the house and put you in an informed position from which to negotiate the purchase, it may even advise you not to buy at all, but in either event it is actually likely to save you money in the long run. Best of all you get the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have had an experienced professional, with a wealth of local knowledge and expertise to check the property before you buy.
There are three principal types of inspection available and these are summarised below, although further valuations may also be required for remortgage, relocation, capital gains tax and compensation claims.
Scheme 1 – Mortgage Valuation
The valuation for mortgage purposes is a limited report and is used to guide lenders in the value of the property for loan purposes only. This is not a survey!
A detailed inspection of the property is not carried out and only major visible defects will be noted. The surveyor will not inspect under-floor areas, communal roof spaces or other parts not readily accessible. The exterior and roof of the property will be inspected from ground level only.
Most people rely on a Mortgage Valuation Report in the mistaken belief that it is a survey. Except when buying a new or nearly new property that has the benefit of an NHBC or equivalent certificate, we recommend that prospective purchasers of property should consider some form of survey and not rely entirely on a valuation carried out for mortgage purposes based on a restricted inspection.
Scheme 2 – RICS Homebuyers Survey
The RICS Homebuyer is a concise report provided in a standard format that ensures the inspection is thorough and that the Surveyor looks at all parts of the property that are readily visible or accessible.
It means, for example, that where there is access to a roof space, it will be inspected.
The report will identify significant defects, readily apparent potential hazards and essential repairs.
It may well enable you to renegotiate the purchase price and will help identify points which your legal Advisor should examine with extra care.
Scheme 3 – The Building Survey
If the property is particularly old or irrespective of its age, clearly in need of repair, you should commission a Building Survey. It is important that you discuss your requirements with the Surveyor as, unlike the RICS Homebuyer Report, there is no standard format and the report can be tailored to suit your particular requirements.
From our survey a comprehensive report is prepared, often illustrated with photographs.
A building survey will not normally include a valuation but this should be requested at the time of instruction if required.