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 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.
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 look at parapet walls during a home buyers survey?
Parapets are where the wall extends above the roof line, primarily as a means to prevent the spread of fire. Parapets can be especially problematic - so much so surveyors have coined the phrase 'parapetitus'. They are particularly common on Victorian and Georgian homes. The top of the wall can suffer from moisture problems if left as exposed brick so a suitable non water permeable cap should be fitted.
The surveyor will ensure that these are fitted and not dislodged during a street level inspection of the roof. The Home surveyor will also ensure that the lead flashing that provides a waterproof seal between the brick and the roof has not been compromised. Often the internal wall is rendered and this render is prone to cracking and flaking away. This too can lead to damp issues. The surveyor will check for cracking, efflorescence, brick spalling, and displacement and these will be reported in the Homebuyer report or building survey.
Parapet walls are particularly vulnerable to the elements (wind and rain) as both sides of the wall are exposed. This can result in a cycle of expansion and contraction that produce cracks which if left, can worsen due to water ingress, ultimately leading to damp.
Mould brings up bad memories for us - What should we do about roof repairs?
Residential property in UK in good condition could feature problems like wet rot. From eaves to collar beams, all aspects of the roof will be taken into account. The are also numerous flat-roofed properties in UK, including many apartment blocks. In these cases, the UK surveyors will look for a range of signs, including literally being flat. An incline of at least '1 to 80' is recommended.
Repairs to a dilapidated roof can be the cause of serious accidents, which is why modern contractors refuse to work without scaffolding. A builder with professional accreditation can provide a quote.