When buying a new home, getting a survey done is extremely important. This is because it will tell you whether the property is worth the price, you’re going to pay for it and if you’ll be stuck with any big repair bills when you own it.
If this is your first home and you haven’t been through the house buying process before, it’s likely you won’t know who is meant to arrange your house survey. We’ve put this article together to answer this question for you and cover other important questions relating to house surveys.
Also, you can check out our other guides for details on the other important steps to buying a house UK.
Who organises a house survey?
During the process of buying a residential property, many people opt to have a survey carried out after their offer for a home has been accepted by the seller. Given that the survey is mainly designed to help the buyer, it’s normally the buyer who organises and pays for a house survey.
However, if you’re purchasing a property in Scotland, the process will be different. It will be the seller’s responsibility to arrange a Home Report for the buyer. You should be able to see this report before you even put in an offer on the property.
What’s the difference between house surveys and mortgage valuations?
If you’re applying for a mortgage to help you buy your home, it is important to mention that the valuation survey that will be organised by your lender is completely different to getting your own residential property survey.
- A survey for a mortgage valuation is a cursory look at a house to help your lender determine whether the home is worth what you want to pay for it. Their intention is to ensure their loan is safe and could be recovered by selling the property if needed. A mortgage valuation won’t give you enough detail to replace a fully house survey.
- A home survey instructed by the buyer is an in-depth inspection of a building’s condition that will inform you of any potential structural problems or signs of subsidence. Also, it will emphasise any possible major and expensive repairs, for example the condition of the roof.
It is recommended to organise your own house survey to assess the state of the property, so you know exactly what you’re buying and what you might need to fix when the house becomes yours. If any serious issues are highlighted in the survey, you might want to use it to renegotiate your purchase price with the seller.
What types of house surveys are there?
There are a number of different types of house surveys the buyer can organise (all of which go into more detail than the valuation survey your mortgage lender will do), the level of survey choose will be your decision. Below are the main types of property surveys you could have.
RICS Home Survey Level 1 (Condition Report)
The Condition Report is the most basic level of survey. It will give you an overview of the house with a summary of any defects and potential risks, but it won’t give you any advice or an estimated value. The price of a Condition Report begins at £300.
RICS Home Survey Level 2 (Homebuyer Survey)
This report is the most popular choice of survey for people buying a new home. It’s more detailed than the Condition Report but it is non-intrusive, so the surveyor won’t move any furniture or lift floorboards. Along with the survey you can also get an overall valuation of the property for an extra fee. A Homebuyers Report will normally cost upwards of £350 for the survey without the valuation and £450 or more for the survey with the valuation.
RICS Home Survey Level 3 (Building Survey)
A Building Survey is a complete structural survey. This involves the surveyor checking everything from the attic space to behind the walls, under the floorboards, and above the ceilings. Once completed you will get advice on any repairs that are needed with estimated timings to fix and costs. A building survey generally costs at least £500 depending on the size of the house.
How to organise a house survey
When you’re looking to plan a house survey and find a surveyor, going with one recommended by your bank, estate agent, or mortgage lender could lead to higher costs and long delays. For many buyers it can be beneficial to request quotes directly from local surveyors and:
- Check they are a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), he or she will have the letters MRICS or FRICS after their name.
- Talk about any specific worries or questions you might have, and they can advise on the right survey for your situation.
- State if you want them to include a valuation of the property at the start of the process.
- Ask to see copies of previous reports so you know what you will be receiving and can decide if the report will be useful to you.
- See if you could possibly meet the surveyor at the property and walk through it with them, maybe after they have finished their official survey.
- Confirm that you’ll be able to talk to the surveyor after their report to go through any points of concern.
How long does a survey take to complete?
As soon as your offer has been accepted on a property, it’s a good idea to get a survey booked straight away. This is because it can sometimes take a while for a surveyor to visit a property and get their report back to you, which might end up delaying your exchange of contracts.
There are a number of factors that can impact how long it takes to get a survey on a residential property. This includes how busy the surveyor is, when the seller can give them access to the house, how long the actual survey takes, and how much time is needed to generate the report.
What happens if the survey outcome is bad?
A poor survey has the power to potentially make or break the sale of a house, but it doesn’t always signal the end. The first thing to do if you get a negative survey report is speak to the surveyor and break down any key concerns with them.
Next, you will want to think about getting a second opinion from an expert related to the specific problem highlighted in the survey. They might also be able to provide you with a quote for how much it would cost to fix the issue. Alternatively, you always have the option to go back to the negotiating table with the seller over the purchase price of the property after a bad survey.
Getting a house survey isn’t the only important part of buying a property. Our team at Toomey Legal are experienced professionals in residential conveyancing and are committed to helping you complete the purchase on your dream home as quickly as possible. Contact us today for more information.