Set your sights on a property, but never your heart until you know how well you can trust its structural integrity. Surveying a property before buying is the safest method to do this, and not all homebuyers consider it. Unlike new builds, existing properties can have structural issues not visible to the untrained eye. Here, we explain what a house survey is and the types of house surveys you might need to carry out to be confident in your choice.
What is a property survey?
A property survey is an expert inspection of the condition of the property to identify any structural issues. It is carried out by a surveyor who visits the property. The report highlights any repairs or alterations needed. Homebuyers generally commission this survey after their offer has been accepted by the seller.
It isn’t a survey but rather an assessment of how much the property is worth. The surveyor compiling the report is obliged to mention major defects in the property, but it is not a thorough investigation. Your mortgage lender requires a mortgage valuation before approving your mortgage to ensure the property is worth the amount you are borrowing. Generally, you will have to pay for the lender’s survey. The Home Report usually contains a property valuation, and lenders accept the valuation if the surveyor is RICS accredited. Sometimes lenders offer free valuation surveys.
Types of property surveys
Home Buyer’s Report
It is a detailed inspection of the property. It highlights urgent matters that need the buyer’s attention, such as damp or damaged timbers. It will recommend further reports if required. RICS Home Buyer’s Report is the standard survey for when buying a house in a reasonably good condition. It is non-intrusive and identifies only surface-level issues.
A Scottish homeowner needs to be in possession of a Home Report before the property enters the open market. The document is split into three parts – a single survey and valuation, a property questionnaire, and an Energy Performance Certificate. An interested buyer can ask for the report from the seller, estate agent, or the seller’s solicitor. They can refuse to give you the Home Report if they think you are not genuinely interested in buying the property or cannot afford to. Brand new homes sold off-plan or recently completed are exempt from the Home Report, though still require and Energy Performance Certificate.
Full Structural Survey
Also known as the building survey, it is the most comprehensive survey on properties. It inspects all accessible parts of a home. You can get it tailored to your requirements if there is specific information you need to find out. These reports are thoroughly detailed and provide suggested repairs and maintenance, and estimated costs.
The Condition Report is the most basic property survey you can commission. It describes the general state of the property, identifies risks and potential legal issues, and highlights urgent defects that need your attention. It is better suited for new builds and homes in good condition. It doesn’t contain any advice or valuation.
The snagging survey is an independent inspection to look for any issues with new builds. It picks up defects or snags to ensure your new home is worth the money you pay. Once your developer receives the report, they can fix the issues under the developer warranty. As these homes are brand new, most of these issues are usually cosmetic and easy to fix.
Who does the surveys?
The surveys should only be conducted by qualified surveyors who are members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland (RICS), Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA), or Incorporated Society of Valuers and Auctioneers. You will receive recommendations from your estate agent, mortgage lender, or solicitor. However, make sure to do your research before hiring them. A local surveyor is likely to have better knowledge of the local market.
Costs of surveys
A Home Report is given to potential buyers free of charge, paid for by the seller. However, a buyer can employ their own surveyor for a detailed Home Buyer’s Report that can cost £350 and upwards.
A Full Structural Survey costs between £500 and £1500.
A Condition Report costs £300 and upwards.
A Snagging Survey for a three-bedroom house can cost £300 and upwards.
What type of houses/properties need surveys?
New build homes do not require an in-depth survey as they have not been lived in. A snagging survey is all you need to identify any defects in a brand new home. Existing properties, especially period homes, need careful inspections to avoid nasty and costly surprises in the future.
Next steps if issues are found
- Re-negotiate the house price to reflect the costs to fix the problems.
- Withdraw your offer or decide not to make an offer if it was made subject to survey.
- Proceed with buying if the seller is ready to fix the issues before you move in.
Buying a home should be an investment that storm-proofs you. A house that looks attractive might hide a multitude of sins in the bones that holds it together. A home survey is not a waste of money but rather an x-ray vision that gives you an insight into future expenses or a lack thereof. GS Brown Construction homes are built to last with premium material, the latest technology, and skillful craftsmanship. Every home comes with 10 year NHBC policy for extra peace of mind.