Home Buyers Survey
Your questions answered by a RICS Surveyor in your area
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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 HomeBuyer Report.
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.
We are buying a UK house with Beer stone walls. What should we look in to?
The sturdy appearance of stone walls may hide serious concerns, and the defects impacting a type of stone will vary according to its properties. Irregular stone walls are found throughout the county, and can require more care and attention that regular, brick-like stone walls due greater impact the weather can have on exposed mortar. Ashlar courses are often used to finish more irregular stone walls, with mortared rubble or brick hidden behind. This can give rise to maintenance issues if either element
of the wall has been treated with a non-breathable material. These walls will need frequent upkeep.
Ask you surveyor for details, but the report may specify using traditional techniques when making repairs to the fabric of older buildings.
Are termites a problem in the UK?
It comes as a surprise to many people when they hear that termites have been found to be active in the UK although this has been limited to the South West of the country.
Dry Wood Termites are a round 1mm long and are hard to see as they are a whitish translucent colour. However some adults grow to around 1cm. They seek out dry timber in which to burrow and propagate. Once they gain a foothold they burrow in all directions into the timber.
As they burrow internally they leave little evidence of their activity from surface inspection. However, they can literally 'hollow out' the inside of the timber leaving it structurally compromised. They are even capable of burrowing through concrete and have been known to destroy entire houses in the US.
They were first discovered in Saunton in Devon in 1998 where a colony had been introduced via an imported plant box. After a hard fought and a large amount of money being spent , the government sponsored ' Termite Eradication Programme' believed that it had eradicated the problem.
However in 2010, the program (which has been monitoring the situation since 1998) confirmed that localised termite colonies had returned, albeit within a very small area underground.
Thankfully however, Termites are not an issue across the UK but other pests such as woodworm are. Surveyors will look for evidence of infestation (most properties over 100 years old will exhibit some evidence) during the course of a survey and if anything is discovered will attempt to ascertain whether the infestation is active. If evidence is discovered surveyors will usually recommend a specialist investigation.
We saw there are no cracks in the brickwork outside, but kitchen floor dips noticeably, is this subsidence? What subsidence issues does the Surveyor report on?
Subsidence is the movement of the foundations of a home which compromises its structural integrity. Most homes experience minor cracking which will not affect the building's structure. In some older homes cracks are revealed in warmer weather which, as it gets colder, will close up when the materials soak up moisture.
Collapsed drains, including mains drains, can cause subsidence by washing away or loosening subsoil. This is an example of groundwater subsidence. Organic material in the sub-soil can also create issues. Organic material such as peat is usually stable if kept moist by the water level, but if the water level falls and the soil dries out, this organic matter will decompose. The weight of the foundations will then compress the sub soil.
Identifying the cause of subsidence is the first step to its solution.This is not always as costly as some buyers fear.Repairing leaking drains, water mains or broken downpipes, which are the cause of the subsidence, should be all that is needed to stabilise the home. Specialist geological and drain surveys may also be required as the movement of soil can sometimes crack drains or water mains.