Home Buyers Survey
Your questions answered by a RICS Surveyor in your area
BSc Dipl. HI MRICS, MRPSA
Ask Martin a question email@example.com
Should we go for a Full Structural Survey, Building Survey or HomeBuyer Report on a home in UK and which is cheaper?
The Full Structural Survey has been renamed by RICS as a Building Survey, although it is essentially the same level of survey.
If the UK property is an apartment, or is 100 or more years old, or has been substantially modified, or is of non standard construction, RICS advise the cheaper HomeBuyer Report.
If you are planning to do any major works on the UK property, you should you go for a Building Survey. The Building Survey is less cheap but it will offer an in-depth analysis of the UK property's condition as well as advice on defects as well as maintenance options .
For more detailed advice get a UK Home Survey Quote via our website or call 0800 038 6667 to speak to our survey team.
What is a home survey, and what will the surveyor actually do?
There are three main types of home buyers survey, the HomeBuyer Report, the Building Survey and the Property Valuation Report. Each of these has a different focus, so buyers should consider which of the three is the right choice for them:
HomeBuyer Report - A general survey of a home, including any visible defects or issues. If the property to be surveyed is of standard construction, and was built after 1900, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) recommend that the HomeBuyer Report is usually the best choice. The report is delivered in a standardised format for easy reference. The HomeBuyer Report includes a valuation.
Building Survey - A more in-depth survey of a property, including all accessible areas of a home. RICS recommend the building survey for older properties, or those of non-standard construction. Building survey reports are tailored by the individual surveyor, and can address any additional questions or concerns. Note that this home buyers survey does not include a valuation as standard.
Property Valuation Report - The most basic of the three, this report is primarily a valuation, and will not include details of particular defects.
For more detail please see the detailed survey comparison table.
Is mundic common in the UK and how will the surveyor test for this?
Mundic has had a lot of bad press and with good reason as it is highly destructive and can ultimately render a house unsaleable. 'Mundic' is actually a peroquial word in the south west used to describe 'disulphide mineral of iron aka 'iron pyrites'. However the word has subsequently been used to describe a range of housing issues that can result from the use of reactive materials mixed with concrete.
Specifically the materials are aggregates of iron pyrites - a waste product of the copper and tin mining extraction process. When mixed with concrete they can cause deterioration leading to structural issues. This deterioration can impact on the structural integrity of the property as it can weaken load bearing walls.
This can also impact other parts of the property such as concrete lintels, sills, beams as well as foundations and concrete floors. The aggregates
were commonly mixed with concrete in properties between 1900 and 1950. If you are intending to buy a house built in this period which has concrete forming part of its construction - the bad news is that mundic may be an issue. If mundic is suspected it can seriously compromise the value of the property.
Your Surveyor will advise you accordingly and a specialist survey may be advised. Although the South West of England is not unique as an area where having used concrete products with sulphide minerals being present in aggregates, the vast majority of issues only occur in this region. Therefore, mortgage lenders now require properties containing concrete built pre 1950 in the South West of England (1960 in some parts) to have a concrete test. This will involve a core sample from walls and foundations. RICS have a specific committee for mundic which has set out guidelines for Chartered surveyors.
Your surveyor will be familiar with these and will advise you on how to commission a specific mundic survey if required. These are not expensive - usually around £300. Please call us and we would be happy to provide you with a quote.
What local Authority is my prospective property in and will it impact on the surveyors report?
Although Chartered surveyors understand planning law and practice, neither a Home Buyer Report or Building survey will comment on the existence of appropriate planning permissions for any existing modifications at the property.
However your conveyancing solicitor will ensure that suitable planning permission is in place before you exchange coontracts. If you are buying a property and intend to modify or extend it, you may need to get planning permission. Obtaining it can be complicated, expensive and protracted. The surveyor won't be able to advise you as to the likelihood of obtaining planning for any planned works you intend to carry out as part of the Homebuyer report or building survey service. However further consultation with a planning expert is advised if you need further information.
Local authorities now provide a wealth of information on the planning process and this has now been centralised at the centralised government planning portal. Update September 6th, 2012: The Government has announced a 3 year relaxation of planning rules to boost the ailing building industry. Measures include allowing home owners to extend by up to 8 metres without permission.
Full details of the initiative are yet to be unveiled so watch this space.
Will the surveyor consider aircraft noise during the HomeBuyer Report valuation?
Aircraft noise is a problem for millions of people throughout the UK. Noise from local airports or flight paths can be inconvenient to the point of being distressing. Surveyors are often asked how they consider this when carrying out a HomeBuyer Report or a valuation. A surveyor will certainly factor in the perceived level of inconvenience as it will doubtlessly have an impact on the overall value of the property. If the area is generally affected, then local property prices will be generally affected and the surveyors local knowledge will enable them to put the issue in context.
As part of the Home Buyer Service, RICS actually stipulate that the surveyor must be familiar with the characteristics of the local area. Although this varies between regions, this knowledge typically includes environmental issues such as including flooding, aircraft noise, radon levels, mining, soil conditions, major areas of potential contamination, etc.; If you have specific concerns about noise, please let us know when you order your survey.