A surveyor is a very useful person in the complex process of buying a new property. Whether it is a private home or a commercial property being bought there are always surprises and unexpected turns within the buying process. Every purchase has an emotional attachment to it, even if it is not somewhere that you are going to live. These types of purchase are generally one of the largest purchases a person will ever make – so it is important to take every step to safeguard the investment and this is why a surveyor is an important part of the process.
A surveyor will have undergone a series of training courses over a number of years to learn how to spot defects and accurately estimate the cost of any work or repairs due. An experienced surveyor will have a lengthy list of completed projects and be able to use this experience when analysing your property. This experience will end up saving you money in the long run by providing you with details on any aspects of the building that may need repair or replacing. You can use the information provided by the surveyor to return to the seller to either get them to reduce the price of the property or carry out the works for you, either outcome means that you do not need to worry about any structural issues or repair works that were present before you bought the property.
It is important that when you are selecting a surveyor to carry out work on your prospective property purchase, that you check their accreditations. Memberships with certain organisations will act as a reassurance to you that they are qualified and amongst the most highly qualified in their field. The gold star organisation, with regard to building surveyors, is the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, or RICS.
To be a member of RICS the surveyor will have had to undergone a lengthy training process which culminates in a presentation to a panel of their peers – a group of highly qualified and respected chartered surveyors. In this presentation they have to demonstrate their knowledge and ability within the field to the panel, who then decide whether to grant a charter to the member. Once chartered the now chartered surveyor is able to apply for full membership of RICS, which demonstrates their capabilities.
RICS also lays out the recommended services for building surveys and what should take place within them. A large proportion of RICS members will offer these surveys as standard and for the consumer they can be seen as a tried and tested method of surveying that offers a certain amount of consistency within the industry. There are other organisations such as SAVA, the Surveyors and Valuers Accreditation scheme that also offer reassurance to a consumer. When looking for a firm or surveyor to carry out work it is one of the two associations above that you should be looking for as a ‘seal of approval’.
Types of survey
There are a number of different surveys for prospective homeowners, each one aimed at a different style or age of house. Below is a handy, quick guide as to which is which.
Condition Report – The most basic survey and therefore the cheapest available. This is a quick overview of the condition of the property using a traffic light system. This report does not go into much detail and therefore should only be used as a reassurance that a property that appears to be in a good condition is.
Home Buyers Report – This survey is much more detailed than the condition report but is still limited somewhat. You receive a detailed breakdown of the condition of the building but as it is a non-intrusive survey there are no checks behind furniture or under the floorboards. Unlike the condition report, you will receive detailed information rather than an overview including anything that no longer meets building regulations. This survey is recommended for newer builds or those that are more standard.
Building Survey – This is the most detailed and in depth report that can be carried out on a building and is therefore well suited to old buildings or those that are unorthodox in their build. It builds upon the Home Buyers Report but does include surveying behind furniture and under the floorboards, looking for any signs of damage. This report will generally offer costs for repairs and an estimate of the length of time it would require to be put right. If you have severe doubts about the structure of a home you are looking to buy it is heavily recommended that a full building survey takes place before you commit to the purchase.
How to find a surveyor
Due to a house purchase being a significant milestone in anyone’s life – even if it is not for the first time – you will naturally want the best qualified people within your budget working on it. Once you have decided to commission a survey you will need to appoint a surveyor, if you have purchased a house before you will in all likelihood have used one previously. For those that have not been through this process before the first point of call is normally friends and families that have used a surveyor before. Failing word of mouth recommendations, there are now a large number of good surveyors online with their own websites that detail their services. If you search for surveyors in your area and then speak to a few different ones you will quickly be able to decide on your preferred option.
Buying a house is a major commitment and one that you will be paying off for a number of years. To make the purchase as easy as possible with regard to any future costs, a survey is a worthy piece of expenditure in this process. Whilst it may seem a large outlay initially, it is always better to know about the condition of a property before you purchase it. Charitable foundations such as the ‘Marandi Foundation’ work with young people in the creation of new housing by offering employment. A new build may be your best option if you want a house in tip-top condition.
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer in the property industry – working alongside a selection of companies including Sussex-based Chartered Surveyors firm Southdown Surveyors, who were consulted over the information in this piece.