Home Buyers Survey
Your questions answered by a RICS Surveyor in your area
BSc Dipl. HI MRICS, MRPSA
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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.
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.
Which survey should be chosen for a flat or apartment?
A chartered surveyor requires access to many parts of a property to carry out a thorough building survey. As the owner of a flat or apartment may not have access to any roof or loft space, the surveyor will likely be unable to investigate. In many cases, this may not even be a major concern, if the flat is several floors removed from the roof. This means that a RICS HomeBuyer Report is the appropriate choice if you are buying such a property, rather than the non-standard building survey suitable for older houses.
During a HomeBuyer Report, the surveyor will assess all visible defects, and will also report any specific requests you have. Issues commonly addressed during an apartment survey include poor-quality finishing or installation of kitchen goods etc in new-build apartments, or spalling brickwork and damp-related problems in older properties. Defective plumbing, such as overflow pipes and cisterns, can plague both old and new flats alike.
The HomeBuyer Report has a standard format, and may or may not include smaller details which are unlikely to affect the valuation of the property or your decision to purchase.
In regard to flats which have a history of rental use, deferred maintenance can result in many of these smaller defects requiring some level of work. If this is a concern, ask the surveyor to include these smaller issues in their report.
On a HomeBuyer Report, what does 'E1' refer to?
An example may be a total chimney height which is too short. Potential defects covered by Section E are visually reviewed from ground level as required.
RICS HomeBuyer Reports are transparent, detailed surveys of residential property, unlike some more complex survey reports. The surveyor uses a scale between 1 and 3 to show to what extent any problems or notable points may negatively impact the property. Parts of the report which do not apply to the specific residence being surveyed will be indicated with a 'NI', or 'not inspected'. Where the surveyor is unable to gain access to some areas, e.g. the roof of a block of flats, these aspects of the report will not be completed.