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Our survey says…

9th February 2018

Insider advice from Mark Mugliston, Residential Sales Manager, in his monthly column in the Diss Express.

So you’ve found your dream home but what about a professional survey?  Do you need one?  You may have had a mortgage valuation or even a builder friend giving a nod of approval when he took a look round.

My Chartered Surveyor colleague Trevor Musk heads up our Building Consultancy team so together we talked through some of the more common questions we get asked.

Why do I need a survey? The mortgage company has valued it and would have picked up any issues.  

Importantly, a mortgage valuation is not a survey; it’s for the benefit of the lender while a survey is for your benefit.

Trevor compares a survey to other major purchases you might make; buying a car without an MOT or service history for example. The same applies to a house, and as it’s the largest purchase you’ll make, a survey must be worth the investment for potential peace of mind.

What types of survey are available?

This is where expert advice is invaluable. Trevor explained that different homes require a different type of survey dependant on age, size and condition.  

There are two recognised levels of survey, a RICS Homebuyer Report and a Building Survey, previously known as a Structural Survey.Both involve a detailed inspection of the property, the difference being the level of reporting. 

Both types will highlight the need for further investigations, such as a CCTV survey of the drains, a test of electrical and heating installations and other checks specific to the property. 

Generally, a RICS Homebuyer Report is suitable for post-war property where no significant works are likely. It gives you an expert account of the condition and any problems in a clear, easy to understand format. It can also include an insurance valuation and market appraisal, just to make certain that you are not paying over the odds for your dream property.

What if my dream home is older?

A Building Survey is more detailed, suitable for older properties, those in poor condition or where significant refurbishment works are planned. This gives you information about the structure and fabric of the property, a description of visible defects and potential problems caused by hidden flaws and an outline of repair options. It will also include an indication of likely costs, as well as advice on the likelihood of future defects, repairs and maintenance options.

So, who should you approach to carry out your survey?

Like Trevor, your surveyor should be a professional member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and have experience of the common constructions in the local area. The Surveyor also must have the relevant level of Professional Indemnity Insurance just in case you have any problems with the survey in the future.  It makes sense to know as much as you can about the true condition of your future home before you commit to buy.

After the survey can I renegotiate?

Yes, if your survey highlights an issue that genuinely affects the value of the property then you are within your rights to go back to the selling agent and re-negotiate. My advice to vendors is to listen, because if there is an issue it isn’t going to go away. You might refuse to accept this buyer’s survey but the chances are the next one is going to say the same thing.  It’s also worth pointing out that if an agent is made aware of an issue he is obliged to declare it when asked.

Trevor and I don’t agree on everything, he’s a Norwich fan and I support Ipswich, but we do agree a survey is a cracking good idea and money well spent here could save you thousands!