Why Do I Need a Property Survey?

30 November 2016

The biggest investment we make in our lives is usually when we buy a house. The process can feel overwhelming and difficult to understand. We can be consumed with the hurdles we need to overcome before we can move into our new home.

The language Solicitors often use to describe the home buying process can be confusing and we can be left feeling as if we are being pulled from pillar to post without any direction or support.

At Co-op Legal Services we provide a transparent, informative Conveyancing service which we hope is easy to understand. Our chosen Conveyancing partners will help guide you through the process and discuss any queries you may have. We have also prepared articles to help explain different elements of a sale and purchase, what you need to be aware of and how the process all fits together. See Buying a Property and Selling a Property.

One of the important stages to consider when buying a house is whether you instruct a surveyor and if so which type of survey meets your needs.

Whilst the cost of a survey is important you should consider the condition of the property and the potential cost of remedying any defect at a later date rather than the initial outlay of the survey. It is better to be informed of cost at the outset, you can then consider renegotiating the price if there are works required which you did not anticipate when you agreed the purchase price.

Remember any negotiations need to take place prior to exchange of contracts. Therefore the sooner you decide on a survey the better.

Which Property Survey Do I Need?

There are different types of surveys available, each have different elements and cost. Once you have decided which survey you require ensure you have a quotation, understand what is being surveyed and include this as part of your budgeting. Ensure you thoroughly check the surveyors’ terms and conditions and if you have any specific concerns point these out when discussing and agreeing a price.

Lenders Valuation

If you intend to purchase the property with a mortgage the lender will undertake a valuation to understand if the property will be adequate security for the amount of loan you intend to borrow.  Many buyers do not undertake an independent survey due to the cost involved choosing to rely on a valuation undertaken by their new lender. The valuation is for the benefit of the lender the report may not be shared with you and will not provide detailed information in relation to the structure or works required at the property.

Condition Report

A Condition Report will provide a snapshot of the condition of the property by using a traffic light system and identify key risks associated with the property. It can be instructed to complement the Lenders Valuation however will not provide a full structural report. This type of report can cost in the region of £250 and is suitable for new build properties or properties in good condition.

Home Buyer’s Valuation and Survey Report

This report is more detailed and therefore more expensive than a Condition Report but not as expensive as a Full Survey. The Home Buyer’s Valuation and Survey Report will usually include more visibility of issues affecting the value, costs of ongoing maintenance and repairs together with any rebuild costs. The cost is usually around £400 and is usually instructed for properties in reasonable condition.  The fee can be variable depending on the size of the property.

Full Structural Survey

A Full Structural Survey is expensive in comparison to other surveys however it is preferable to instruct a full survey if you have concerns about the property. Costs can start at £600. It is important to understand exactly what you are buying and any additional works that may be required as part of your purchase.

Factors to take into consideration when deciding if a full structural survey is required are:

  • High value purchase price
  • The mortgage is low compared to the purchase price, a lenders valuation will therefore probably return favourable as the mortgage loan would be easily recoverable.
  • The property is older than 100 years which could indicate the need for a full survey given the age of the property and potential additional works to remedy any defects.
  • If you intend to alter the property after completion it would be worthwhile considering a full survey so you can understand any structural concerns or limitations you may face after completion.
  • Finally, consider the location of the property, a full survey may be preferable if the property is located in a mining area or close of rivers which could cause subsidence.

How to Instruct a Surveyor?

It is important not to rush into things. Speak to your estate agent and Conveyancer, discuss any concerns you may have with the property and seek further advice on which survey best meets your needs.

Make sure you get several quotations and check what is covered and what isn’t. You can also look online for further advice on the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA) or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). If you do instruct a surveyor ensure that your surveyor is a member of a recognised governing body such as RPSA or RICS.

More articles