Buying a house is an exciting time and once your offer is accepted, do not let the excitement cloud your judgement as far as a house survey is concerned. This article explains why a house survey is a vital step of the house buying process, outlines the types of surveys available and the differences between them and under what circumstances one is preferable over another.
Want to really understand the condition of the house you are buying beyond the new coats of paint? Are there any problems lurking between the surface and can you use any issues to negotiate the asking price down. Sometimes the problems are severe enough for a potential buyer to walk away, in some cases a reduction in asking price smoothes the way and the transaction goes ahead.
Types of house surveys
House surveys fall into three main categories; The Condition Report, The Homebuyer’s Report and the Building Survey.Selecting which type of survey to commission depends on the age of the house, any personal concerns you may have about its condition, as well as any telltale signs of something not quite right.
The homebuyer’s report is the most popular type of survey commissioned because it goes into sufficient detail to allow buyers to make informed decisions about the house.
The Condition Report
At the bottom end of the survey scale is the condition report, which is the most basic survey you can commission as a buyer. If you are looking for an overview of the house’s condition without much detail, this is the report to choose. The report will still highlight significant problems but it is not in depth. The report utilises a traffic light system to draw attention to the condition of the different parts of the building.
The condition report is ideal for a modern house which appears to be in good condition overall. Instead of going with your gut instinct, you will have a professional report to agree with you. Condition reports usually cost between £150 and £300.
The Homebuyer’s report is the most commonly asked for report and goes a notch up with the detail it contains, compared to the condition survey. This report captures problems such as damp and subsidence among others. The surveyor will also provide advice and guidance on the steps required to rectify the problems.
Another important aspect of this report is building regulations compliance and the report will highlight any issues with regards to building regulations. Common culprits include extensions and conservatories. As detailed as the survey is, it is non-intrusive and the surveyor, although thorough, will not lift floor boards etc during the survey.
If you have any concerns about a house, the homebuyer’s report will help set your mind at ease or confirm your fears. Prices for a Homebuyer’s Survey start from around £100 to £950, depending on the value of the house.
The building surveys digs even deeper when assessing the condition of the house. The report the surveyor produces will provide a detailed breakdown of any structural issues present within the house. All identified defects will be listed in the report and may include the work required to rectify the problems. You can also request the surveyor to provide estimates for solving the problems and then use these to negotiate the asking price with the seller.
The depth of a building survey is ideal if you are purchasing an older property or a house that is clearly in a poor condition. Also, if you are looking to do some work on the house once you buy it, you will need to know about any structural issues before you buy it.
Costs for having a building survey done start from £500 up to £1,500 for more expensive houses.
Snagging survey for new builds
When buying a new build house, the other surveys are usually not appropriate. However, you can commission a snagging survey to ensure there are no outstanding issues which need correcting before you move in. Common problems with new builds include:
- Poor paintwork.
- Wrongly piped hot and cold water taps.
- Stuck windows.
- Unfinished flooring etc.
The surveyor may take the report to the homebuilder and present their findings and help you get the issues resolved before you move in.
The discussion above explains the three types of house surveys available as well as when each type of report is appropriate. The costs for each type of report has also been discussed, but the prices will vary depending on where you live, as well as the value of the house.
For your peace of mind when buying a house, it is important that you have at least one of the surveys above conducted on the house you want to buy. This will save you money and heartache in the long run, as well as giving you an opportunity to negotiate down the asking price.