Avoid Surprises: Choose The Right Type of Property Survey

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Finding the house of your dreams can quickly turn into a living nightmare if you buy the house without getting a proper survey and subsequently discover a problem.

Many of us actually make our minds up to buy a property within a very short space of time, but don’t consider the importance of property surveys in order to help you avoid burdening your finances with some expensive repair bills.

Taking risks with your money

Some research that was carried out by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) highlighted the fact many buyers who fail to have a proper survey carried out, can find themselves close to £6,000 out of pocket.

A comprehensive survey by a professional surveyor can identify a range of hidden problems and defects that may not be immediately apparent or found with a basic valuation survey.

Typical issues can include structural defects, rot and also subsidence. Any of these problems can turn into a major financial headache with some large bills arriving on your doorstep in order to put things right.

Serious faults are sometimes difficult to identify without a proper investigation and the RICS research revealed that just over a fifth of home buyers who did not have a survey carried out, would not have ended up buying the property if that had been made aware of its true condition.

Cutting corners

Surveys can be expensive and it is very tempting to cut corners if you are on a tight budget.

First-time buyers are particularly susceptible to subsequent problems with a property, as they tend to choose the cheapest available survey option due to limited funds.

This normally means that they choose a mortgage valuation report which is little more than you paying the cost on behalf of the mortgage company, so that they can find out whether the house is worth what you want to pay for it and therefore offers them enough security against the loan.

These reports will actually highlight any serious issues with the property, but the scope of the report will not allow the surveyor to discover any hidden problems.

Choosing the right survey

If you are buying a newly built property which has an NHBC certificate or Buildmark 10 year warranty, then you should not need to go for a full structural survey, so you need to evaluate the age and location of the property to decide which survey and investigations you need to pay for.

It is important to remember that the valuation report you paid for is for the benefit of the mortgage lender so if you want a surveyor who is working for you rather than the mortgage company, you need to instruct a surveyor to carry out one of the following surveys.

Condition report

The main objective of a condition report is to provide an overview of the condition of your property and draw to your attention any issues of particular concern without providing more extensive details.

This is the cheapest option and it can be a useful addition to the mortgage valuation report in that it at least seeks to highlight any potential problems that you may want to investigate further before proceeding.

Homebuyer report

The next level up is a Homebuyer report which is far more detailed and can be carried out at the same time as the mortgage valuation report.

If you do choose to have a Homebuyer report combined with a mortgage valuation, you should check with your lender to ensure that your chosen surveyor is acceptable.

What you will get in the report is any advice on defects and some recommendations regarding repairs and subsequent ongoing maintenance. You will also get some cost estimates and advice on what action to take, included within this report.

Building survey

This is the most comprehensive survey that you can have done on your property and it will be quite expensive in comparison to other reports.

What you get for your money is a very detailed appraisal of your property and if you are considering buying an older or more unusual property, you should definitely consider this option.

A seemingly large financial outlay for this survey could potentially pale into insignificance if it saves you from some eye-watering bills after you complete the purchase without this knowledge and it’s too late to pull out of the deal.

Nobody likes surprises when it comes to their property, so make sure you choose the right type of survey and help yourself to avoid a potential financial headache.

Edward Cross has been a property investor since his mid twenties. He has been building up his property portfolio for over a decade now and he enjoys sharing his experiences through blogging.