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Building Surveys and the importance of them

PUBLISHED: 16:35 08 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:07 20 February 2013

Building Surveys and the importance of them

Building Surveys and the importance of them

Recent surveys have determined that around 80% of home buyers don't organise a Building Survey when acquiring a property. This is a very worrying statistic for what is most people's most significant investment in their life time.

Recent surveys have determined that around 80% of home buyers dont organise a Building Survey when acquiring a property. This is a very worrying statistic for what is most peoples most significant investment in their life time.

Why bother instructing a Building Survey before purchasing a property?

If you buy a property and then discover that it has serious structural problems or major building defects you could find yourself accountable for significant unanticipated expenditure not to mention the inconvenience of having building works carried out.

Obtaining a Building Survey can help you review the condition of the property prior to acquisition. This will give you the option to re-negotiate the purchase price or ensure you have enough funds / are prepared to tackle any problems. Contrary to general consensus this applies to both old and new properties.

Will my lender undertake a Building Survey?

As a buyer purchasing a property via bank financing, you pay for a mortgage valuation report in order to secure a mortgage offer. This report should never be confused with a Building Survey. The mortgage valuation report simply reviews if the property is worth what they are loaning to you. It is not their responsibility to point out any defects or repairs pertinent.

Types of Building Survey

A Building Survey typically entails a visit to the property by a Chartered Building Surveyor who will spend some time looking at the property both inside and outside making visual checks and observations. Inspections usually take between a full and half day to complete. The report will be thorough and will list everything the Surveyor thinks you should be aware of about the property.

Essentially there are 3 main types of Building Survey which can be undertaken for by both buyers and sellers:

  1. Full Building Survey - This survey is the most comprehensive type and is usually undertaken on older properties. This type of survey gives a detail elemental report on the condition of the property and assesses the cost for repairing any problems discovered.

  2. Homebuyers Survey - This survey has less detail and is usually only undertaken on modern properties. Some Surveyors choose to prepare a short form Full Building Survey Report rather than a Homebuyers Survey as the content of a Home Buyers Survey is limited in its content allowing the Surveyor to tailor the report to the individual.

  3. Snagging Survey - This sort of survey relates to the inspecting and reporting of any outstanding snagging works to new building projects which have reached completion. This report can then be presented to the contractor for rectification to ensure no defects are present when the property is ready for occupation. Typically new build projects can develop circa 50-60 snagging defects.

How much do they cost?

The price of a Building Survey is usually linked to the size and purchase price of the property and also the type of report undertaken. Whilst the cost of a Building Survey may seem like another expenditure added to the cost of moving, if you invest in a Building Survey it could highlight repairs required in their thousands preventing you purchasing the property at risk.

Case study

Location St Albans, Hertfordshire

Purchase Price - 295,000

We undertook a Building Survey of a Victorian terraced property in St Albans. The property was found in poor condition throughout with a number of significant repairing costs required. Our client was able to negotiate a 5,000 saving on the purchase price.

During this inspection, our client also asked us to comment on the possibility of removing various internal walls and chimney breasts demonstrating how a report can be tailored to a buyers needs.

Further Advice / Instructing a Building Survey

When selecting a Building Surveyor check that he / she is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). This can be verified via the RICS if required.

2110 Consult LLP have extensive experience in the undertaking of Building Surveys of varying property types. For further information, please do not hesitate to find further information on our website or contact us directly.

Adam D Linard is a Principal Chartered Building Surveyor at 2110 Consult LLP. /


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