Home Buyers Survey
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 Building Survey.
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.
Will the surveyor be able to tell me if there has been any damage due to flooding and whether it is likely in the future?
Flooding can cause severe damage to both contents and property, and occurs throughout England and Wales. Recent conflict between insurers and the government has caused a great deal of uncertainty for buyers and home owners in areas at a high risk of flooding, regarding whether they will be able to insure against flooding in the future at all.
Unfortunately, distance from water or height above sea-level is no guarantee that a home will be secure, as heavy rain and poor drainage can both also cause extensive flooding.
The Environment Agency maintain a flood warning service, including regularly updated area risk assessments.
As with many aspects of home ownership, prevention is better than a cure when considering flooding. Flood water can enter a property though a number of routes, including air bricks, poorly fitted doors and windows, and seepage through external walls. A property surveyor should be able to assess whether a house is susceptible to flooding via these routes, and can advise on repairs or additional preventative measures.
These can include costly but effective solutions e.g. the use of lime-based plaster on walls and properly constructed drainage, and less expensive options like the installation of air brick covers and door guards.
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.