23rd Aug 2016

To Survey or Not to Survey

Is a survey really necessary when purchasing a property? Residential Property expert, Jane Kendrew explores some of the issues and common misconceptions.

The number of times I am asked by Client Buyers if they should bother with a survey before purchasing a property is amazing.  I know that this can seem to be just an additional expense – often the last thing Clients want to do when completing an often costly property purchase – but it could save a lot of money and heartache if any serious defects are found in the property.

Isn't this something my lender will arrange? 

A common misconception is that if the property is good enough for the lender to loan money on, then that should be sufficient reassurance that the property is free from any major problems.  Unfortunately, this is not the case because the Mortgage Valuation Report only does what it says on the tin; it values the property, but won’t provide advice on the condition of the property.  In fact occasionally a Valuation can be based on a drive-by inspection.

There are several survey options and it is always advisable to seek advice from a reputable Surveyor as to the most suitable survey for you.  Many local Estate Agents have their own in-house Surveyors who can offer guidance.

What can I expect from a survey?

Just imagine this scenario:  You find your dream home and are busy planning what furniture will go in which room, measuring up for curtains, working out colour schemes and discussing whose car will be going in the garage.  Your children are beside themselves because they are going to have a room each in the loft conversion and you are making elaborate plans for the extension.

In all the excitement you didn’t notice the cracks between the main house and the extension, or the fact that there was inadequate means of escape from the loft conversion in the event of a fire.  It also escaped your notice that the garage was accessed direct from the kitchen without the necessary safety measures having been put in place.

A Surveyor would have noticed all these problems and would be able to advise you on the likely cause and cost of carrying out any remedial works which you could then put to the Seller with a view to renegotiating the price.  He would also spot that wasps nest in the storage area just off the children’s bedrooms!

The Surveyor would also identify other problems such as damp related issues which in addition to being potentially expensive to remedy, may delay moving in dates as a result of the chemicals used to treat the affected areas.  He would also be able to advise on many other issues, including the existence or more scarily the non-existence of lintels in the event of supporting walls having been removed.

Don't Building Regulations guarantee any home improvements? 

As it is still quite common for work to be carried out by property owners without obtaining the necessary Building Regulation Approval, or the work is carried out with the benefit of Approval, but is not signed off by Building Control, a survey would highlight any potential deficiencies which could be costly both financially and time wise by delaying the conveyancing process.

Your Property Lawyer should be provided with a copy of the survey so that they can make sure the necessary Planning and Building Regulation Approvals have been obtained and also whether there are any valid Guarantees. 

So all in all a survey is a wise investment not only for your ownership of the property, but also to avoid any potential pitfalls when you come to sell.

Written by Jane Kendrew or Berwins Solicitors 

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