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A guide to home buying surveys.

December 5, 2019

There are lots of different things to take into account when you’re buying a property. A home buyers survey is an important part of the home buying process, and getting one done can raise issues that you can’t spot simply by running your eye over the property – particularly if it’s an untrained one. But if you’re wondering how they work, how much they cost and how long does a home buyers survey take, we’ve got you covered in our handy guide.

What is a home buyers survey?

Quite simply, a survey is a detailed inspection that you can have carried out on a property once you’ve had an offer accepted. Buying a house is usually the biggest financial commitment you’ll make, and it can all seem very daunting, especially if you’re a first time buyer. However, taking steps like organising a survey can make your leap into the unknown a little less scary, as a home buyers report gives you a great insight into the overall condition of the property you’re buying. Getting one is optional, but it can give you a layer of protection that saves you a lot of money and hassle in the future.

There are different levels of survey providing varying degrees of detail, but each should give you an indication of any work that needs to be carried out on your new home both imminently and in the future. Whether it’s structural issues, problems with damp or subsidence, or concerns about the state of the roof, your survey will suggest how to fix the problems and even provide expert analysis of things like the type of walls and glazing a building has. Depending on the defects uncovered, the results of a home buyers survey can allow you to renegotiate your purchase price.

RICS Condition Report – Level One

It’s a good idea to choose what kind of survey you go for based on the actual property you’re buying, rather than how much the survey costs. As a minimum, you should be looking at a RICS Condition Report, which is most suitable for new-builds and conventional homes that seem to be in good condition. This report will describe the overall condition of the property, tell you about any urgent defects, and notify you of any legal issues concerning your purchase.

RICS HomeBuyer Report – Level Two

If your prospective new home is a conventional building in reasonable condition, this could be the survey for you. It should uncover any structural issues such as subsidence and damp, as well as other problems that may arise both inside and outside the house. However, the HomeBuyer Report won’t take a peek below the floorboards or behind the walls. With this survey, you can choose whether or not to include a valuation, which adds to the cost.

RICS Building Survey – Level Three

Also known as a full structural survey, this is the highest level of home buyers report you can get. A comprehensive insight that’s usually recommended for older or larger properties, it could also be the best option if you’re planning to undertake major building works on your new home. Thanks to a clear presentation style and a rating system that grades the seriousness of each issue, it’s easy to understand RICS Building Survey as it details its in-depth analysis of the property’s condition. With advice on defects, repairs and maintenance options, you’ll also get a warning of what might go wrong if you don’t address the issues raised.

Are there any other types of surveys?

Sometimes there can be issues with newly-built homes, so it’s a very good idea to get new-build snagging survey. An independent inspection, it will highlight any issues that your developer needs to address and fix before your move-in date.

How much is a home buyers survey?

The cost of home buyers survey options may vary between different surveyors and properties, with the cost of a full structural survey in particular sometimes considerably higher than below, but you can expect to pay something in the region of the following:

  • Condition Report – £250
  • HomeBuyer Report – £400
  • Building Survey – £600
  • New-build snagging survey – £300
  • The cost of home buyers survey options may vary between different surveyors and properties, with the cost of a full structural survey in particular sometimes considerably higher than below, but you can expect to pay something in the region of the following:

    How long does a home buyers survey take?

    Learning more about the conveyancing process can help you understand why buying a house takes the time it does, but even if you’re completely clued up, you don’t want a survey to slow you down. Booking your report as early as possible is a good way to avoid this, and the sooner you get it done, the sooner you can get to the point of exchange.

    Your surveyor may be able to fit you in within a few days, while they’ll need something like an hour and a half to four hours to complete a HomeBuyer Report. A Building Survey could take as long as eight hours, and the amount of time it takes to come back to you also varies. You could receive a basic report in just a few hours, while a full structural survey may take 10 working days.

    What happens if my survey uncovers issues?

    Just because you receive some bad news from a survey, it doesn’t mean you should pull out of your purchase all together. Before you do anything, you need to go through each issue carefully with your surveyor, discussing what it means and whether it’s a minor concern or a major problem. This is why it’s usually a good idea to go with your surveyor when they go to inspect your prospective property.

    From electrical issues to problems with the roof or central heating system, damp and timber issues, and complications that may need the help of a structural engineer to rectify, there are ways to deal with the concerns raised. You can find out whether any problems are covered by a guarantee, get advice from your surveyor on how to fix an issue and obtain quotes from a builder where necessary. This is where you can also renegotiate your accepted offer, or ask the seller to fix any problems.

    How to find a surveyor

    You should try to find a respectable surveyor to carry out your report, so it’s a good idea to choose one that’s recognised by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors or the Residential Property Surveyors Association. It could be an option to go with a recommendation of a friend or family member, while you don’t need to go through your estate agent or solicitor if you don’t want to.

    Disclaimer: This article is for informal and general advice regarding information on home buyers survey guide

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