Your house survey

It’s easy to get carried away by the look and feel of a new home and ignore the crumbling brickwork or leaking roof. A small amount spent on a survey could save you thousands and is a must for all home buyers.

Survey Types

Most buyers tend to rely on the mortgage lender’s valuation, which is simply the check on the property so they know it’s worth the money they’re lending to you. It will show up any serious defects that are likely to affect the value of the property but it won’t give you a full picture of its condition. For that you need a home-buyer’s or full structural survey, carried out by a qualified chartered surveyor.

There are three types of survey: the valuation report, home-buyer survey and structural survey.

Valuation Report

This is the simplest and cheapest form of valuation of a property, and will be all that a mortgage lender will require. Its primary purpose is to reassure the lender that the property is sufficient security against the loan they are offering.

A surveyor will check the property inside and out, and make an assessment of a suitable value based on its general condition and the values of recently sold properties in the area that are similar. The report will contain a summary of condition, with comments on any general faults. It will also have brief recommendations to the buyer on further checks to be carried out.

If you are buying a new built home, the valuation is probably sufficient especially if the builder has signed up to the NHBC Buildmark warranty(opens in a new window). But if you are buying an older property, it’s advisable you get a full survey before you go ahead with a purchase.

Home-buyer Survey

This is more detailed than the valuation report and can often be carried out at the same time. It’s not usually suitable for properties in need of renovation, or if you’re planning major alterations.

This type of survey will check out:

  • The general condition of the property
  • Any major faults in accessible parts of the building that may affect the value
  • Results of tests for damp in walls
  • Damage to timbers – including woodworm or rot
  • The condition of any damp-proofing, insulation and drainage
  • The estimated cost of rebuilding the property for insurance purposes
  • The value of the property on the open market

Full Structural Survey

This is the most complete and expensive survey. It is suitable for all properties, especially listed buildings, older buildings, properties you plan to renovate or alter in any way.

The survey will advise on:

  • Major and minor defects and what they could mean
  • The possible cost of repairs
  • Results of damp testing on walls
  • Damage to timbers
  • The condition of damp-proofing, insulation and drainage (though drains aren’t tested)
  • Technical information on the construction of the property and the materials used

The location

Recommendations for any further special inspections.

Other Reports

There are then a number of specialist reports you may need depending on what the surveys uncover these include things like timber treatment and damp-proofing. The reports are often undertaken free of charge when the company is preparing you a quote for the repair work.