The survey is a really important aspect of a property sale, as it can influence whether a buyer purchases a home, along with how much they pay for it. But what exactly does a home surveyor do, and what do they look for when visiting your home? In this post, we explain all.
What is a home survey?
Let’s kick off with the basics. A home survey is an investigation of the condition of a property, and it’s completed by a qualified property surveyor. The survey is usually arranged and paid for by the property buyer once an offer has been accepted, and it’s carried out to confirm the purchase is a good idea, and that there are no nasties lurking behind the scenes (think electrical wiring or subsidence issues).
Where can I find a property surveyor?
Estate agents can usually recommend a reputable home surveyor if you need one, but you’re also welcome to select one yourself. Just be sure yours is part of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
Different types of home surveys
There are three types of home survey, depending on the type of property you choose. They are:
1. Condition Report (level one)
The level one Condition Report is given to newer properties in a good condition. You’ll be looking at paying between £400 and £950 for one of these, which will assess major, urgent defects, potential risks and any legal issues. It’s the least detailed type of home survey available, and it works with the help of a traffic light system to rate the general condition of the different parts of the home.
2. Homebuyer Report (level two)
Also referred to as a Home Condition Survey, the level two Homebuyer Report contains everything in the Condition Report, but it also flags less urgent defects that might affect the property later down the line. This type of home survey will also include repairs and maintenance advice. The Homebuyer Report is the most common type of home survey, and it’s carried out on standard properties in a reasonable condition. Expect to pay between £450 and £1000 for one of these.
3. Building Survey (level three)
Also known as a Full Structural Survey, this is the most in-depth assessment of a property’s condition. This is the type of survey completed on properties that are 50 years or older, larger properties, or properties with unusual layouts or features, such as castles or thatched-roof homes. A Building Survey will set you back between £600 and £1500.
How long does a home survey take?
The timescales for a home survey all depend on the type of home survey you go for. A level one Condition Report usually takes around an hour to complete, while a level two Homebuyer Report will take double that. There’s no straight answer for a level three Building Survey, as it varies based on home type and size.
So, we’ve covered the different types of home survey, the costs of home surveys and the length of time it takes for a home survey to be carried out, but what kinds of areas will be up for inspection? We’ve put together a rundown of the types of things surveyors will assess. As we’ve mentioned, the detail and investigative effort will depend on the type of home survey you opt for…
Factors affecting a home survey
The property location
A property surveyor won’t just review what’s in your home, they’ll consider what’s around it, too. For instance, any roads and railway lines that might be synonymous with high noise levels, or electrical pylons that could signal health concerns. In other words, any external factors that might affect quality of life in some way.
The history of the property
A home surveyor will need to know when the property was built, and if any major building works – such as an extension – have been carried out throughout its history. They will also determine whether those developments had the correct planning permissions granted, if they were in line with any building regulations, and the materials used and durability of the work.
The presence of hazardous materials
One key element of a survey will be identifying any hazardous materials, which can be a problem for homes built before the year 2000. Because it wasn’t banned until 1999, Asbestos can often be found in older homes. If it is found, a specialist will have to come in and get rid of it pronto.
A surveyor will need to ensure the home is structurally sound. They’ll look for any evidence of subsidence, which can have a serious impact on the outcome of a survey, consider how straight the walls are, and assess the pointing (sand and cement filling) and materials used to build them.
The loft & roof
A surveyor will want to explore a loft or attic’s ventilation, insulation and structure. This assessment will also tick off the condition of the tanks and pipes that run through the space. Similarly, an investigation of the roof will be undertaken to ensure there’s no damage or elements that require major repairs. This will include the guttering, tiling and solar panels, if these are fitted.
Surveyors will highlight any damp spots by using what’s known as a moisture meter on the walls. If they discover any, they’ll work to reveal the root of the problem, and look out for any dry rot or ventilation issues – both caused by damp.
Electrics & plumbing
Full testing of the electrics and plumbing facilities will be conducted throughout the home, including checks on the fuse box and general operational checks. Anything the surveyor deems a worry will be further examined by a specialist to get a full-scale view of the problem.
Finally, if the home has a garden, this will be placed under scrutiny, too. The surveyor will explore the drainage and presence of trees close to the property to see what effect the roots could have, plus any Tree Preservation Orders.
The type of home survey you need, and the cost and timescales associated with your property survey, all come down to the type of home you’re buying. If you can get a personal recommendation for a qualified surveyor, that’s great news. And if not, just make sure your property surveyor is part of the ROCS.
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