Buying a house House surveys explained

A surveyor on a building site

You should get a survey done even if you are buying a brand new home

It's essential to get a survey carried out when you have an offer accepted on a property to find out about the condition of the building and make sure that it's worth the price you have offered. 

It can help you negotiate money off if there is costly work that needs to be done and also help you to budget for any future repairs that might be needed. 

You will have to pay for a mortgage valuation in order to secure a mortgage offer but this should not be confused with a survey. The mortgage valuation merely confirms to the lender that the property is worth at least what it is lending you – it is not its responsibility to point out any repairs that need doing.

You should take the cost of the valuation into account when choosing a mortgage. The mortgage lender can carry out an independent survey for you when it does the valuation but you will have to pay extra for this.

Go further: The cost of buying a house - a round-up of all the fees you have to pay when buying a property

Types of house survey

There are four main types of survey a buyer can purchase.

Homebuyer’s report

This covers structural safety and highlights problems, including damp, as well as anything that doesn’t meet current building regulations. It takes two to four hours to complete, giving an independent and expert view on the property’s value.

Building survey

This survey is for older properties and those of a non-standard construction (e.g. timber). It usually takes a day to complete, depending on the size of the property.

A building survey gives a detailed report on the condition of the property and highlights issues that should be investigated further before going ahead with the purchase. It does not include a valuation.

You can find a surveyor to carry out a Homebuyer's report or building survey through the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Home condition survey

This tells you about the condition of the property, whether there are potential problems you should investigate further and what the rebuild cost of the property is for insurance purposes. It does not include a valuation.

The home condition survey (HCS) is carried out by home inspectors accredited by SAVA. Inspectors must meet certain standards and follow a code of conduct to join the SAVA HCS certification scheme. You can find an certified surveyor on the SAVA website.

New-build snagging survey

This is a specialist survey for new homes that will pick up mistakes such as plumbing the hot to the cold tap or poorly finished paintwork. Your independent inspector will also be able to arrange for the developer to sort out any defects found.

Go further: DIY home repairs - 10 home repair jobs you can complete without assistance

Energy performance certificate

The energy performance certificate (EPC) will provide you with information on the property’s energy efficiency. Anything rated A to C is above the UK average. A seller must have commissioned this certificate when they put the property on the market so the estate agent should be able to provide you with this.

Go further: EPCs explained - find out more about energy performance certificates

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