When purchasing a house there is so much to think about, not only do you have to agree a price with the seller, get approval from your mortgage provider, liaise with estate agents and then you discover there are a number of different surveys available. To the average house buyer the differences between a valuation report, a building survey, a home buyer’s report, a condition report and the home condition survey can be blurred. All may seem to be the survey that you require as a house buyer but the subtle differences between them make some better placed than others to give you the relevant information and advice.
Home Condition Report
A Home Condition Report is one of the most comprehensive surveys you can have undertaken on a house you are purchasing, alongside a full building or structural survey. These reports can only be undertaken by fully qualified and accredited surveyors and provide detail on the property in a clear and easy to understand format. After a Home Condition Report has been completed, you will receive a document that goes through each element of the structure and gives it a rating of 1 to 3. A rating of 1 means that element is in good order and a rating of 3 indicates that there is a problem the will need to be addressed.
It is important to note that all surveys do not look deeper than the walls or floorboards, however a Home Condition Report should give you some of the surveyor’s opinions into potential issues within these areas. As well as highlighting any potential issues, a Home Condition Report will generally provide you with some advice on how to go about sorting a number of the more common issues it has raised.
How to use a Survey
So you have spent money on a survey, it has shown there are a few residual issues in the structure of the property but what do you do with this information? First of all you need to assess what has actually been found via the survey and the potential cost of the repairs. It is a good idea to consult a builder or the surveyor to gain an estimate of how much the repairs are. Once you have a figure you can take this to the seller to renegotiate the price, or at least get an agreement that all the work will be done before the sale of the house is completed.
If you find that the survey has unearthed more serious issues such as foundation damage or water buildup, then it might be prudent to either immediately hire experts from a company similar to CenTex Foundation Repair to carry out all necessary repairs and restore the foundation to its previous strength, or discuss other options with both the seller as well as your real estate agent who may be able to help guide you better.
It is important to have your survey carried out whilst you are not fully committed to a property, this allows you to use a get out clause if you decide that there is just too much work to do. Take into account not only the cost but the length of time and inconvenience the work will cause.
As mentioned, there are a number of different surveys you can choose to carry out on your prospective property, and a lot of people will also see that their mortgage provider is completing a survey and ask, why do I need to carry one out?
The mortgage provider will commission a ‘valuations survey’, this is solely for them to determine if the property you are purchasing is of the value you are borrowing. This survey does not look at any structures or raise any potential issues, it is just to satisfy the bank with regards to the valuation.
You also have RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) Surveys, these are Condition Reports and HomeBuyer Reports. A condition report is a basic survey, and generally the cheapest, that provides a rating based on traffic lights, whereas a Homebuyer goes into more detail and will help you in discovering any structural issues. The highest detail report is a full building survey (often referred to as a structural survey), this goes into great detail on conditions of structural elements and provides you with in depth advice on the repairs. It is similar to the Home Condition Report in many ways but generally more expensive – although it is advisable to talk to a surveyor regarding your options.
How to Find a Surveyor
Often the best way to find a reliable surveyor is through word-of-mouth, a number of friends and family would have gone through the process of buying a house and may have used a surveyor in the past. The other option is to find one online, a good place to look is on the websites of the recognised governing bodies. There are a number of these bodies operating in the UK including RICS, RPSA (Residential Property Surveyors Association) and SAVA (Surveyors & Valuers Accreditation Scheme), and all have lists of surveyors readily available.
Article provided by Alan Rance Surveyors, a partnership of surveyors based near Dunstable and covering Leighton Buzzard and Tring, specialising in surveying homes and giving clients an easy to read report of their new home.