What is a House Survey?

Posted July 2, 2024
What is a House Survey?

When buying a property, a house survey is an essential step. It’s a thorough inspection of the property’s condition. This survey helps you understand the state of the house you’re interested in. It can highlight potential issues that might cost you in the future.

Let’s break down what a house survey is, the different types, their importance, and how to choose the right one for your needs.

What are the types of house surveys?

Condition Report (Level 1)

A Condition Report is the most basic survey. It provides a snapshot of the property’s condition. This type doesn’t go into much detail. It’s ideal for newer properties that seem to be in good condition.

What it covers:

  • The general state of the property
  • Any urgent defects
  • Risks and potential legal issues

What it doesn’t cover:

  • Detailed analysis
  • In-depth investigation into defects

Homebuyer Report (Level 2)

This report is more detailed than a Condition Report. It’s suitable for conventional properties in reasonable condition. It provides advice on necessary repairs and ongoing maintenance.

What it covers:

  • Major faults that may affect the property’s value
  • Potential problems that could impact safety
  • Repair and maintenance considerations
  • Valuation of the property

Building Survey (Level2)

A Building Survey is the most comprehensive survey. It’s ideal for older or unusual properties, or if you’re planning significant renovations.

What it covers:

  • Detailed analysis of the property’s condition
  • All structural elements of the property
  • Major and minor defects
  • Recommendations for repairs and maintenance
  • Possible causes and solutions for defects

Why get a house survey?

Identify Major Issues

A house survey can reveal significant problems. These might include structural issues, damp, or subsidence. Knowing about these early can save you money and stress.

Provide Negotiating Power

If the survey highlights issues, you can use them to negotiate the price. You might ask the seller to lower the price or fix the problems before the sale.

Peace of Mind

Buying a house is a huge investment. A survey gives you confidence in your purchase. It reassures you that there are no hidden surprises.

Choosing the right survey

Consider the Age and Condition of the Property

For a newer home in good condition, a Condition Report might suffice. For older homes or those that need renovations, a Building Survey is better.

Think About Future Plans

If you plan to make significant changes to the property, a detailed survey is essential. It will highlight potential issues you need to address.

Budget Wisely

Surveys can be costly. However, they can save you from unexpected expenses in the long run. It’s wise to budget for the right survey.

Who conducts a house survey?

RICS Chartered Surveyors

A qualified chartered surveyor conducts a house survey. They should be a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). This ensures they meet high professional standards to carry out a RICS valuation.

Finding a Surveyor

You can find surveyors through recommendations or by searching the RICS website. It’s a good idea to get quotes from a few different surveyors to compare prices and services.

What to expect from a house survey

  1. Before the Survey – Once you’ve chosen a surveyor, they’ll arrange a time to inspect the property. You’ll need to inform the seller or the estate agent.
  2. During the Survey – The surveyor will visit the property and conduct a thorough inspection. This can take several hours. They might use special equipment to check for damp or structural issues.
  3. After the Survey – The surveyor will prepare a report detailing their findings. This can take a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the type of survey.
  4. Reviewing the Report – Carefully review the survey report. Pay attention to any defects or issues the surveyor has highlighted. If you don’t understand something, ask the surveyor to explain it.

Common issues found in surveys

  • Damp – A common issue, especially in older properties. It can lead to mould and structural damage.
  • Structural Movement – Properties can move or shift over time. This can cause cracks in walls or foundations. Severe movement, known as subsidence, is a serious issue.
  • Roof Problems – Surveys often uncover issues with the roof, such as missing tiles or leaks. These can be expensive to fix.
  • Electrical and Plumbing Issues – Older properties may have outdated or unsafe electrical systems. Similarly, plumbing issues, such as old pipes or leaks, can be problematic.

What happens if the survey has issues?

You can use the survey findings to renegotiate the property’s price. The seller might agree to lower the price or fix the issues before the sale.

If the survey reveals serious problems, you might choose to walk away from the purchase. This can save you from significant future expenses.

For serious issues, you might need further investigation from specialists. This could include structural engineers or damp experts.

Acting on survey findings

Addressing issues before buying can prevent costly repairs later. Ignoring problems can lead to bigger issues down the line.

Some defects can be safety hazards. It’s crucial to address these to ensure the property’s safety.

Fixing issues before purchase can enhance the property’s value. It can make it a better investment in the long run.

Final thoughts

A house survey is a crucial part of the home-buying process. It provides a detailed understanding of the property’s condition.

There are different house surveys to suit various needs and budgets. Choosing the right survey can save you from future headaches and expenses.

Always use a qualified surveyor and carefully review the report. Acting on the findings can ensure a safe and sound investment.