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Independent Chartered Surveyors

What Survey

The best way to reach an informed decision on such an important investment as a house and home is to have a professional survey and valuation of the property carried out before you purchase.

Before you decide to go ahead and commit yourself legally to the transaction, you can ensure peace of mind and minimise the risks involved, by asking a RICS qualified surveyor to answer the following questions for you:

- Is the price that I have agreed to pay reasonable in all the circumstances?

- Are there any drawbacks or defects to the property that I don't know about? If so what do I need to do about them?

Commissioning your own independent survey is the simple and economical way to avoid unpleasant and costly surprises after moving in.

But I already have a mortgage valuation report

Even if your lender has had a mortgage valuation report carried out you should be aware that regardless of who pays for this it is for the benefit of the lender and not you the purchaser. It really answers only the questions concerning the appropriate security for your loan – you cannot rely on it to answer the questions which concern your personal interests – and that it is why it is important to obtain an independent survey.

What choice of surveys do I have?

As a member of The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) we offer three forms of survey which are specifically designed to help home buyers.

Building Survey

A Building Survey is suitable for all residential properties and provides a full picture of its construction and condition. It is likely to be needed if the property is, for example, of unusual construction, is dilapidated or has been extensively altered or where a major conversion or renovation is planned. It is also recommended for older properties, those constructed before about 1900. It is usually tailored to the client’s individual requirements. If, for example, you have concerns over a particular element of the property this would be looked at in some detail as part of the survey and commented upon in the report.

The report would usually include technical information on the construction of the property and materials used, as well as details of the whole range of defects found during the inspection and advice on how to remedy them.

RICS HomeBuyer Survey

By contrast the Homebuyer Survey is a standard format report designed specifically as a value for money package. It therefore differs materially from a Building Survey in two major respects:

  • It is intended only for particular types of home – houses, flats and bungalows which are of a conventional type construction and apparently in reasonable condition.
  • It focuses on essentials, defects and problems which are urgent or significant and thus have an affect on the value of the property, although it does include further valuable information such as comments upon the location, environment and matters for your legal advisors attention

The Homebuyers survey has recently been improved and updated and now includes condition ratings which rate the defects/issues depending upon their severity.

As you would expect with the differences highlighted above, a Building Survey is typically more expensive than a Homebuyer Survey. Due to the practical limits of the inspection and the scope of its coverage the Homebuyer Survey is priced in the mid range, i.e. more expensive than a mortgage valuation but less than a Building Survey.

The Homebuyer Survey aims to assist a potential purchaser to

  • Make a reasonably informed judgement on whether or not to proceed with the purchase.
  • Assess whether or not the property is a reasonable purchase at the agreed price.
  • To be clear what decisions and actions should be taken before contracts are exchanged.

Home Condition report

The third type of survey is the The Home Condition Report (HCR) this is an objective report on the condition of a property that can be relied upon by buyers, the seller, lenders and other professionals involved in the conveyancing process.
The HCR is designed to highlight any defects in the property that are either urgent or serious, in addition to providing a general summary of all other parts of the dwelling. The purpose of the report is to enable the homeowner and the prospective purchaser to be aware of defects in the property that may influence their decision in the buying process.

The report gives a condition rating on each element of the property, however it does not provide any advice.

Whichever survey report you decide is appropriate you can always speak to Richard both before and after the survey has been carried out and if you have any areas of particular concern, please make us aware of these and these will be dealt with during our inspection and reporting process.

If you have a particular issue or if you require additional services – perhaps providing a schedule of minor defects for later discussion with a contractor – or arranging for the testing of services, this can also be arranged.

The table below sets out the main points of difference between a Homebuyer Survey and a Building Survey

 Homebuyer Survey & Valuation Building Survey
Type of property Conventional houses, flats,bungalows, etc. in apparently reasonable condition Any residential or other property in any condition
Type of Service Economy package in standard form A detailed and comprehensive report that can be tailored to suit your needs
Objects of Service To assist Client to: (i) make an informed judgement on whether or not to proceed (ii) assess what would be areasonable purchase price for the Property. (iii) assess all urgent and significant matters before exchanging contracts (in Scotland, before concluding an offer) To provide Client with: (i) a detailed assessment of thecondition/construction of the Property; and (ii) technical advice on problems and remedial works
Special features Focus on urgent and significant matters Comprehensive details of the Property’s construction, materials, uses and defects
Valuation Integral part of Homebuyer Service Can be included
Form of Report Compact, fixed RICS format In Surveyor’s own format, usually much longer and much more technical

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