What Type of Property Survey do I need?

Have you found ‘the one’? The next step is to make sure your property is in working order and as it should be. That is where a property survey comes in.

Buying a new home is probably one of the biggest financial investments you will ever make, and no one wants hidden surprises when you move into a new property.

To ensure the property you are planning on purchasing is in good condition, you will need to arrange a property survey.

What is a survey?

To put it simply, a survey is like a health check on your property. If it reveals any problems, it puts you in a position to ask the seller to fix them before you proceed with the purchase.

Alternatively, you may choose to renegotiate the final sale price to account for the cost of fixing the problems yourself – or you may opt to pull out of the transaction entirely.

Do I really need a survey?

It is not a legal requirement to have a survey done on a property you are buying. And, at a time when your bank account might feel like a bucket with a hole in it, it could seem like an unnecessary expensive!

However, by having a survey done it could save you a lot of money – not to mention a lot of stress too, if it uncovers an issue with the structure of the property.

If you are purchasing a new build home, you should acquire a 10-year warranty from the builder which largely removes the need for a home buyer’s survey. You may still want to consider having a snagging survey done to cover minor issues, repairs or defects that may have occurred after completion.

For any other property, a survey can prove to be highly valuable to you. Keep in mind that if you are buying with a mortgage, the lender will carry out a valuation of the property (which you will probably have to pay for).

This is not the same as a survey. The sole purpose of a valuation is to show the lender that the property is worth the sale price before they give you the green light for the mortgage.

Here is a quick round-up of what else you need to know about property surveys.

How do I arrange a survey?

Make sure you choose a Surveyor that is a member of a recognised governing body such as the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). At Boxall Brown & Jones we are members of and are regulated by the RICS, meaning that you can feel assured that we will provide a high-quality service every single time.

What types of surveys are available to me?

RICS currently offer three types of home-buyer surveys, with level 1 being the most basic and level 3 being the most comprehensive. These are called:

  • A Condition Report (or Level 1 Survey)
  • A HomeBuyer Report (or Level 2 Survey)
  • A Building Survey (or Level 3 Survey)

If you are not sure of what is the right survey for your needs, it is a good idea to talk to a RICS Surveyor, as they can provide independent advice on which one would be best for you.

With all RICS reports, they use a rating system to show their findings. These are:

  • Condition Rating 1 – No repair currently needed.
  • Condition Rating 2 – Defects that need repairing or replacing but are not considered to be serious or urgent.
  • Condition Rating 3 – Defects that are serious and need to be repaired, replaced, or investigated urgently.

What happens if my survey finds a problem?

Most surveys find some sort of issue, especially with older properties. Make sure you discuss these findings with your Surveyor and ask how much this may cost to fix any issues.

You can then decide based on these findings, and whether you would like to:

  • Contact a builder to get a quote for any major works.
  • Renegotiate the asking price.
  • Ask the seller to fix any issues before completing the sale.
  • Pull out of the sale. You are not obliged to proceed if you are concerned about the issues raised.

What is in a Condition Report (Level 1 Survey)?

The Condition Report is a basic property survey which gives an overview of the property’s overall condition. It highlights any significant issues but does not go into detail.

This survey is suitable for standard modern properties and relatively new homes that appear to be in good condition, a Condition Report highlights any risks, urgent defects and potential legal issues that may arise.

It covers:

  • An inspection of the inside and outside of the main building and all permanent outbuildings.
  • An inspection of the roof structure and other features that may be seen from an access hatch.
  • An inspection of the visual parts of the services for example, gas, water, and electricity.
  • The condition of the boundary walls, fences, and areas of shared use.

It does not cover:

  • The efficiency or safety of electrical, gas or other energy sources.
  • The efficiency of the plumbing, heating, or drainage installations (or whether they are up to standard with current regulations).
  • The internal condition of any chimney, boiler, or other flue.
  • An inspection into contamination or other environmental dangers for example, asbestos. However, if the Surveyor does suspect a problem, they must recommend further investigation.
  • The Surveyor will not prepare an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property.

What is in a HomeBuyer Report (Level 2 Survey)?

A HomeBuyer Report is suitable for most modern, conventional properties that are in a reasonable condition and less than 50 years old.

It covers:

  • Any background information on the property and location.
  • Information regarding the cost of re-building the property for insurance purposes.
  • An inspection of the visual parts of the services for example, gas, water, and electricity.
  • The condition of the boundary walls, fences, and areas of shared use.
  • Damp-proofing, this includes damp tests of the walls.
  • Drainage – although drains are not tested.
  • An assessment of the building’s timbers, checking for woodworm or rot.
  • Details of urgent problems or defects that must be fixed before a contract is signed, may affect the property’s value, as well as the cost of repairs and maintenance.

It does not cover:

  • An inspection into contamination or environmental dangers including asbestos. However, if the Surveyor suspects a problem, they must recommend further investigation.
  • The preparation of an EPC. However, the Surveyor will obtain the most recent certificate from the appropriate central registry and review this.

What is in a Building Survey (Level 3 Survey)?

Formally known as a Structural Survey, a Building Survey is the most comprehensive survey that is available for residential properties and provides an in-depth inspection of the property.

A Building Survey is suitable for all properties but are particularly appropriate for properties that are more than 50 years old.

They are typically more expensive than a HomeBuyer Report (Level 2 Survey) but could end up saving you thousands of pounds in rectifying expensive and hidden problems.

It covers:

  • Detailed advice regarding the condition of the property, outlining any potential risks or hidden faults, how urgently repairs are needed and their estimated cost.
  • Thorough inspections of all visible and accessible parts of the building, including roofs, walls, floors, windows and doors, chimneys, garages, and outbuildings.
  • If you have any concerns, you can speak to your Surveyor and ask them to investigate certain aspects of the property, as a Building Survey can be adapted to your needs.
  • You can request a property valuation as part of the survey, or if the survey is approved by your mortgage lender, it can be used instead of a mortgage valuation.

It does not cover:

  • Forcing or opening the ‘fabric’ of the building without the owner’s or occupiers’ consent, or if there are risks of personal injury or damage.

At Boxall Brown & Jones we have a vast experience in carrying out all kinds of property surveys and valuations for private clients and businesses and offer a full range of surveying services.  The department is headed by Robert Jones and Mark Richardson, both vastly experienced Chartered Surveyors who can carry out surveys on most types of property throughout Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, and Staffordshire (central midlands district). 

As an established member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors for over 30 years, Boxall Brown & Jones have built up a strong reputation for excellence in diagnostic building pathology of structures together with individual tailored client care. 

We are totally committed to giving you the best possible advice for peace of mind when buying any property.  

If this interests you, why not give our friendly team a call on 01332 292825 or email [email protected]. You can find out more information about our property valuation surveys here.

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