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.
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.
. Potential health concerns such as congenital birth defects have been associated to landfill sites .
UK RICS surveyors will consider structural defects resulting from the site. Your solicitor will conduct environmental searches of the British Geological databases and Local Authority and address any concerns you may have .
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.