Should I have a survey?

Buying a property is clearly one of the biggest financial decisions most of us will ever make.  It is therefore understandable that we will want to avoid any unforeseen costly consequences associated with our dream purchase.  So, will a survey provide all of the guarantees and assurances we seek? 

Reading survey

The Property Hive estate agents in Doncaster have a wealth of experience in buying and selling property in Doncaster, this guide is packed with helpful tips and advice.

In order to help understand the question, we first need to be clear on what a survey is.  There are in fact many different types of surveys, but the following three are common:

  1. Valuation Report
  2. Homebuyers Report
  3. Full Structural Report

Valuation Survey

The Valuation survey is a type of survey carried out on behalf of a Mortgage lender.  The purpose is to protect the interests of the bank and confirm the property value based on comparable property sales in the area.  The surveyor has an obligation to identify obvious issues with the property which may prevent the bank from recovering its money.  Depending on the type of mortgage being applied for, buyers may be expected to pay for this survey.

Homebuyers Report

As its name suggests, the Homebuyers Report is a survey carried out on behalf of the buyer.  On average costs start around £400 and will vary depending on the size of the property.  It is a visual inspection and doesn’t look beyond the floorboards, behind walls and will not involve going up on to the roof.  It is worthwhile noting that the surveyor is unlikely to be qualified to test the electrics, gas or any part of the heating system.  The most common things you’ll have to investigate in addition to this type of survey include:

  • Electrical installation
  • Gas installation
  • Any potential problems with the roof
  • Central heating system
  • Any potential damp or timber issues
  • Any potential structural concerns which would need a structural engineer
  • Any potential concerns regarding the drainage

The Homebuyers report typically provides a valuation of the property based on its current condition and an estimate of the cost of rebuilding (reinstating) the property should it be needed. 

An example of a Homebuyers report can be found here. 

Full Structural Report

This is the most comprehensive survey and is often suitable for older properties which are in need of repair.  The cost of this type of survey is typically upwards of £700 and provides detailed advice on potential repairs.  Again, the surveyor will not be able to look under floorboards, behind walls and will not be going up on to the roof, but may offer opinions on the potential for defects.

Obviously, the decision on whether to have a survey or not depends very much on the type of property being purchased and the potential risks or concerns the buyer is looking to mitigate.  For example, newly built properties may have a reduce risk of defects due to their age and as many new homes are guaranteed for up to 10 years the risks are potentially lower. 

It is important that buyers take the time to consider specifically what potential concerns they have and then decide if a survey will actually help to alleviate, bearing in mind the cost of the survey and the areas which will and won’t be covered.  The best advice we can offer is for buyers to make a list of areas they are concerned about.  Check out our viewing checklist.

In many instances a survey can raise as many questions as answers; therefore buyers should also consider alternative means of finding reassurance.  Qualified tradespersons can offer a wealth of advice and experience on matters such as roofing, electrics, heating systems, gas installations, windows, doors, drainage and much more.  Many offer inspection services and some may be prepared to take a look and provide quotes free of charge to help you understand potential issues and the cost involved in rectifying.

It also worthwhile remembering,  some mortgage advisors, lenders, estate agents and solicitors receive payments from surveyors for recommending their services, so make sure they are recommending  a survey for the right reasons.  If you are in doubt, ask if they will receive any form of financial remuneration for recommending you to use a particular service and then make your own judgement regarding their motivations.

Whilst lenders will insist on everyone purchasing a property with a mortgage having a valuation survey, only a small percentage of buyers actually have a Homebuyers or Structural report due to the cost and limitations.  Most home buyers find other means of managing the potential risks and use the money they would otherwise spent paying a surveyor to put towards the property.

Please feel free to give us a buzz if you would like any assistance or advise about buying a home, we are here to help.

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