Let’s talk about Surveys shall we? Most surveyors provide three types of survey: a condition report, a HomeBuyer’s report and a building survey. While the HomeBuyer’s report tends to be the most popular it’s up to you which one you think is best for your property. We decided to go with the Home Buyer’s one because after inspecting the Property twice we felt that this was the best survey for us!
There is also a Mortgage valuation which is NOT a proper survey. It’s carried out on your mortgage lender’s behalf, not yours (despite the fact that you may have to pay for it). It only exists to confirm whether the property you want to buy is roughly worth the amount you want to pay for it, so the lender can decide whether to lend you the amount you’re asking for. Although it’s often referred to as a valuation ‘survey’, it won’t tell you anything about the condition of the property and Mortgage valuation reports are usually requested by the lender before they make a formal mortgage offer.
A Rics condition report which is the most basic ‘proper’ survey you can get!
It gives an overview of the property’s condition and highlights significant issues, but isn’t very detailed.
It will give you traffic light ratings for the condition of different parts of the property and is suitable if you’re buying a relatively new property with no previous issues, and just want some reassurance that everything is OK.
A Rics HomeBuyer’s report is a more detailed than a condition report which highlights problems, such as damp and subsidence!
It includes advice on necessary repairs and ongoing maintenance and points out anything that doesn’t meet current building regulations.
It’s non-intrusive – the surveyor will not look behind furniture or under floorboards, so they’ll only be able to identify ‘surface-level’ problems. But it does include a market valuation and rebuild cost.
It takes around two to four hours to complete and it is the most popular type of survey, and the standard choice for most properties that are in a reasonable condition.
If you’re buying an unusual or period property, or one that requires significant renovation, it’s best to upgrade to a building survey.
A Rics building survey is the most thorough survey you can get.
It provides a comprehensive analysis of the structure and condition of the property and lists defects and advises on repairs and maintenance. The surveyor will be ‘hands on’ and will do things such as check the attic and look under floorboards and you can ask for the report to include projected costs and timings for any repair work. Depending on the size of the property it may take a day to complete and is a good option if you’re buying a property that’s over 50 years old or in a poor condition. It’s also worthwhile if you’re planning to do significant work or have major concerns about a property. It is usually only undertaken on houses but not on flats.
There is also a new-build snagging survey which identifies defects with a new-build home, covering everything from small cosmetic issues to structural problems.
The report can be given to your developer before you move into the property so you can get any issues sorted as quickly as possible under your two-year developer warranty. Anyone buying a new-build home should have a professional snagging survey done.
Then there are the property searches that are normally carried out:
Local search – to obtain a variety of information from the local council, such as whether the property is affected by plans for a new by-pass or a planning enforcement notice.
Drainage and water search – does the property have mains water and drainage? The local water company will also provide other useful information, such as the position of pipes.
Environmental search – is the property affected by contamination which could involve costly removal?
Planning search – find out whether the neighbours have got planning consent for a large extension, or a planning application has just been lodged for a new superstore down the road.
Flood risk report – check whether the property is at risk from flooding.
Coal Mining, brine pumping, and other mining searches – to find out if the property could be affected by old mine workings, or a new opencast mine nearby.
High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) – make sure that your new home will not be affected by this planned new rail line.
Chancel liability search – check that you won’t be liable to pay for the maintenance of your local church.
Land registry search – make sure that the seller still owns the property on completion.
Once all these Surveys and Searches are carried out and completed its time to move on to the last but big part when buying a house: Exchanging Contracts and Completion Day and then you are nearly there with owning your very own property!