Buying a house is one of the biggest things anyone will do in their life. It may be a first family home, the first home as a married couple or even a retirement home. Whatever the reason for buying a house there is always an element of emotion attached and memories being built. You therefore need to make sure that the house is the right one for you and that your dream home is not likely to become a nightmare very quickly further down the road.
In the UK there are a large number of older properties dating back decades or even centuries in some cases, and whilst these houses have a certain amount of romance attached to them they are often hiding some nasty secrets. Structural damage is not always visible and is often only picked up by a qualified surveyor, who has had a number of years training and vast experience in identifying possible issues. It is this experience that can end up saving you a lot of money both in the long and short time.
Doesn’t the bank carry out a survey?
Yes, it is quite true that your mortgage provider will carry out a survey on the property you are purchasing, however this is not a full home condition or building survey. As the lender is loaning you a vast sum of money they want to make sure that their investment is worth the amount you are borrowing. This survey is a valuation survey to make sure that the house they are paying for matches the valuation and is in a suitable condition to be mortgaged. At the end of the day they want to protect their finances and will avoid funding any property that either falls under the value of the mortgage or is in a poor state of repair.
The fact that the bank completes this survey confuses a large number of people due to the misunderstanding that it is a full home condition survey. This can leave people buying a house only to discover after a few months that there needs to be major work undertaken to make the property safe, this is why a survey should be undertaken in addition to the one the mortgage provider will carry out.
What survey do I need?
There are almost as many survey options as there are mortgages and finding the right one for your property can be quite confusing. The key though is to talk to a surveyor before commissioning any survey to be undertaken and they will provide advice on the service that is best suited to you. The most important thing is to ensure that the surveyor you are employing is accredited to one of the major surveying associations; these are RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors), SAVA (Surveyors and Valuers Accreditation) and BRE (Building Research Establishment).
One of the surveys that is likely to fit most properties is a Home Condition Survey. This survey offers a clear and concise assessment of the building through a 1, 2 or 3 grading system. This makes it easy for the house buyer to understand and see exactly what areas of the building are likely to cause issues or need any repairs. The surveyor will generally provide estimates on what the work is likely to cost.
How does it save me money?
Whilst a survey will cost you money, more often than not it saves you more than your initial outlay. The main way it will save you money is through the identification of any problems with the property. The provided costs allow you to go back to the seller and either have the cost removed from the price you are paying or have the work completed before you complete the purchase. Either way this saves you the money that you would have to spend if you had not completed the survey and this can occasionally reach into the thousands or tens of thousands.
How do I find a surveyor?
Most people will find a surveyor through word of mouth or simply use the same surveyor as they have in the past. If you do not have any friends or family that are recommending a surveyor another option would be to ask your solicitor, although bear in mind that they may receive a kickback for recommending a particular surveyor. There is also the ability to find a surveyor through search engines on the internet, the important thing is to talk to any surveyor thoroughly before committing to any work. A house purchase is arguably the most important purchase of a person’s life and appointing the correct surveyor could help you hugely.
This article was provided by Mike James, an independent content writer in the property market – working together with a selection of companies including Alan J Rance, a RICS regulated property surveyor and valuer based in Bedford, who were consulted over the information contained in this piece.