Home Buyers Survey
Your questions answered by a RICS Surveyor in your area
BSc Dipl. HI MRICS, MRPSA
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Should we go for a Full Structural Survey, Building Survey or HomeBuyer Report on a home in UK and which is cheaper?
The Full Structural Survey has been renamed by RICS as a Building Survey, although it is essentially the same level of survey.
If the UK property is an apartment, or is 100 or more years old, or has been substantially modified, or is of non standard construction, RICS advise the cheaper Building Survey.
If you are planning to do any major works on the UK property, you should you go for a Building Survey. The Building Survey is less cheap but it will offer an in-depth analysis of the UK property's condition as well as advice on defects as well as maintenance options .
For more detailed advice get a UK Home Survey Quote via our website or call 0800 038 6667 to speak to our survey team.
What is a home survey, and what will the surveyor actually do?
There are three main types of home buyers survey, the HomeBuyer Report, the Building Survey and the Property Valuation Report. Each of these has a different focus, so buyers should consider which of the three is the right choice for them:
HomeBuyer Report - A general survey of a home, including any visible defects or issues. If the property to be surveyed is of standard construction, and was built after 1900, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) recommend that the HomeBuyer Report is usually the best choice. The report is delivered in a standardised format for easy reference. The HomeBuyer Report includes a valuation.
Building Survey - A more in-depth survey of a property, including all accessible areas of a home. RICS recommend the building survey for older properties, or those of non-standard construction. Building survey reports are tailored by the individual surveyor, and can address any additional questions or concerns. Note that this home buyers survey does not include a valuation as standard.
Property Valuation Report - The most basic of the three, this report is primarily a valuation, and will not include details of particular defects.
For more detail please see the detailed survey comparison table.
When buying a derelict Victorian detached property, is it best to order a full structural survey?
The Full Structural Survey has been renamed as a Building Survey. Go for the Building Survey if you are thinking of buying the house outlined. The HomeBuyer Report is appropriate if buying a 60 year old or less UK property of normal construction materials.
There are some restrictions exist with any survey as a qualified RICS surveyor is not in a position to force or open up the structure of the UK house for example, or inspect where doing so could cause damage to the house.
If the property is a listed building, what additional considerations will the surveyor make?
There are great benefits to owning a listed building or a home protected within a conservation area. The unique character of a property or locale is preserved, and the sense of continuity and history can increase both residents' enjoyment, and property prices.
Unfortunately, these benefits are not without a cost. Grade I and II listed buildings are identified as being of special historical or architectural interest, and worthy of preservation. Although this listing is not intended to 'freeze' the building at a point in time, in practice it does heavily restrict what changes you can make, even with consent. Major alterations, especially external, to a house in a conservation area also require consent from the local authority. Worse, in cases where a previous owner has made changes to a property in a conservation area without consent, the current owner will be liable to pay for remedial work to 'undo' these modifications.
The surveyor will be unable to confirm if previous changes had consent from the council (this should be confirmed by a solicitor during the conveyancing process), but they will be able to investigate the appearance and construction of the property. They can then advise as to whether any recent or 'out of character' changes have been made. Listed buildings must usually be repaired in a 'sympathetic' manner, with appropriate materials and methods, and new owners should not underestimate the additional cost of this.
In general, listed property will be well maintained, which the building survey will confirm, but where a property has deteriorated, a buyer can find themselves saddled with an order requiring them to make necessary repairs. Any repair or upkeep recommendations in a property surveyors report should therefore be carefully considered, and the responsibility of owning a listed building taken seriously.
Will the surveyor be able to tell me if there has been any damage due to flooding and whether it is likely in the future?
Flooding can cause severe damage to both contents and property, and occurs throughout England and Wales. Recent conflict between insurers and the government has caused a great deal of uncertainty for buyers and home owners in areas at a high risk of flooding, regarding whether they will be able to insure against flooding in the future at all.
Unfortunately, distance from water or height above sea-level is no guarantee that a home will be secure, as heavy rain and poor drainage can both also cause extensive flooding.
The Environment Agency maintain a flood warning service, including regularly updated area risk assessments.
As with many aspects of home ownership, prevention is better than a cure when considering flooding. Flood water can enter a property though a number of routes, including air bricks, poorly fitted doors and windows, and seepage through external walls. A property surveyor should be able to assess whether a house is susceptible to flooding via these routes, and can advise on repairs or additional preventative measures.
These can include costly but effective solutions e.g. the use of lime-based plaster on walls and properly constructed drainage, and less expensive options like the installation of air brick covers and door guards.