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Do I need a survey when buying a house?

| Insurance

It’s important to have a survey done on a property that you’re thinking of buying, but why and how could it help you? Age Co has the answers in this helpful guide.

Buying a home can cost a lot of money, which you’ll likely be paying back over many years. It’s important that you make the right decision and choose the property that you’ve not only fallen in love with but that is suitable to live in and in good condition. This is what a survey can do for you. 

Are house surveys worth it?

House surveys are very important as they can show the condition of a property and even flag information that may convince you to back out of the sale, such as dry rot, subsidence, and more. If you do want to proceed with the sale but you’re worried about the survey results, you may be able to use the information to negotiate the price of the property down. In most cases, the survey shows no major issues with a building.

If you’re worried about the cost, there are different types of surveys that you can choose from that vary in price. Some are more basic and will be cheaper, whereas others are in more depth and therefore more expensive.

The most basic survey you can have is known as a Condition Report. These usually cost around £300 and may include property details such as potential risks and defects. The report uses a traffic light system to determine whether any issues found are serious (red), a cause for concern (orange) or ok (green). The purpose of this survey is to ensure that the amount you’re paying for the property is correct based on the condition it’s in.

The survey that’s more detailed than the Condition Report is the HomeBuyer Report. This report includes information similar to that of the basic survey, but with additional details. These could be broadband speed, damp assessment and previous boundary disputes. This kind of survey could cost between £400 and £900, depending on the size of your property.

The final and most expensive survey is the Building Survey. This is sometimes otherwise known as a full or structural survey. It can be applied to all properties, but may be best suited to older or more unusual buildings, such as those with a listed status. You get all the information from the previous two surveys, however the surveyor will also check the loft, behind walls and between floors. It can include advice relating to repairs and their estimated cost if you’re looking to renovate the property. The price for this report ranges from £500 to £2,000.

Who organises a survey when buying a house?

If you’re the one purchasing the property, it’s down to you to organise the survey. You can either ask for a recommendation from your solicitor, who will likely know a few reputable people that are part of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, or do some research of your own. It’s important that the surveyor is part of the RICS or the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA), accrediting bodies for surveyors.

If you’re selling the property, you don’t need to provide a survey for the buyer. The only time you may want to look into having a survey done is if the property is being sold at auction. Sometimes circulating the report to potential bidders before the auction is a good idea, but this isn’t a necessity.

How to arrange a survey on a house 

As previously stated, the easiest way to book a surveyor is via a recommendation from your solicitor or from a family member or friend. Finding a surveyor can seem daunting, and you want them to be trustworthy and reliable. This is often why a recommendation is the best way to go.

Alternatively, you can use the RICS’ useful tool to find a surveyor near you. Once you’ve found the surveyor that seems most reputable and is local to you, you can give them a call or email to ask when they can fit you in.

The survey may need to be paid for up front or, in some cases, can be added to your solicitor’s bill to be paid when the contracts have been signed and exchanged.

What happens after a survey on a house?

Once the surveyor has been to your house, they’ll send you a report within a few days that gives an overview of the property, any potential problems and their implications. If required, you can ask them to go through it in more depth or clarify certain aspects.

If you’re happy with the survey, you can continue with the purchase of the property. However, if it flags problems, what should your next steps be?

In many cases, it isn’t worth getting a second opinion as this will likely be the same as that of the first surveyor. You may want to revise your accepted offer and renegotiate a lower price. To do this, you should get a quote for how much it will cost to fix the flagged problems. For example, if the house has damp problems that will cost around £2,000 to fix, you may want to knock £2,000 off your offer.

In some instances, the vendor may be able to solve the issues themself and do this before you’re due to exchange contracts. Don’t forget to ask for proof that the work has been completed and receipts to show the cost of the work before you exchange. You want to make sure they’ve done their part and completed the work that they agreed to.

It’s important to take out home insurance as soon as you’ve exchanged contracts. This is because, should an incident occur even before you move in, your home will be protected and you won’t incur additional costs to cover the damage caused.

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