Guide to independent home surveys

Jul 25, 2017
House survey

Find out why you might need a home survey when buying a home

Once you have made an offer on a new home and been accepted it’s vital to have a homebuyer survey carried out. A survey will mean you are not surprised by repairs or work that’s needed once you have the keys. It may also help you ask for a lower price, to reflect the need for work to be carried out once you’re in.

But what do such surveys tell you and how much will one cost?

Doesn’t my mortgage provider carry out a survey?

Yes, when you ask a mortgage company to lend on a house they will carry out a valuation before they make a formal mortgage offer. However, you should not rely on this because it is not a proper house survey and it’s carried out for the benefit of the lender not you – even though you may be asked to pay for it.

This survey does not provide any information about the condition of the home you are considering buying, it only provides a value so the lender can be sure about the property they are lending on.

It might be tempting to rely on this survey rather than pay for an additional survey, but that won’t give you the information you need to properly assess the condition of a house or apartment.

Paying for a survey before you buy a home really can save you a lot of money in the long run, so it’s simply not worth skipping, especially if you are buying an older, existing property where there is more chance for issues to have developed.

What kind of surveys are there?

There are a few different levels of home survey and the price varies depending on how in depth you choose to go.

A RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) condition report is perhaps the most basic type of survey at a cost of around £250. It does not dig as deep as the more thorough surveys so is really only suitable for newly built homes or properties that are in excellent condition and where you are confident that there are unlikely to be any issues.

The next step up is a RICS HomeBuyer Report, usually costing upwards of £400. This report will spot any structural issues like subsidence and it will often include a property valuation. However, it does not go further than the actual building structure, so there could still be issues with the wiring, for example, that do not get flagged by this.

After that comes the RICS Building Survey and this is the most thorough survey you can get. Not only will it provide a comprehensive analysis of the home’s condition and structure but it will also list any problems and provide advice on repairs and maintenance. It can even include the anticipated costs and timings of any repair work needed.

It can take as long as a day to complete a RICS Building Survey, as the surveyor will go through the entire home. This is a good idea if you are looking at an older property or one that is in poor condition because it will give you a clear idea of the amount of work required once you take ownership.

This can cost anything from £500 up to well over £1,000, depending on the size and value of a home, but if there is an expensive issue lurking then it can save you thousands of pounds in the long run.

What can I do with a survey?

The buying of a home is an expensive purchase and you may be tempted to wonder if you could get away without carrying out a survey. When buying an existing property, it could have been suffering from a lack of maintenance or have other existing issues that have been ignored, so a survey arms you with the information you need to make an informed choice and bargain with a seller if need be.

If you have commissioned a survey that reveals an issue with the property – for example, a damp problem or an issue with the roof – then you can use that finding as a powerful tool for negotiating a lower price. After all, if it will cost £10,000 to repair the roof then it should be a straightforward case to ask for £10,000 off the agreed price.

However, not all sellers will be willing to negotiate and you may prefer not to buy a property that will immediately require extensive work. If that is the case then the survey will allow you to pull out of the purchase before it costs you even more money.

Does a new build home need a survey?

When you buy a new home you do not have to worry that there might be structural issues with the property that have been ignored, or issues with the wiring, damp or ham-fisted DIY. It’s simply the case that your home is ready to move in and enjoy.

However, there are still surveys that can be carried out. If you’re buying a newly built home then you can pay for a so-called ‘snagging survey’, in order to check for any issues with the property. These typically cost from £300, although it depends on the size of the home.

Any issues raised during such a survey would usually then be addressed by the developer before you move in.

When you buy a new Barratt home you receive even greater piece of mind. Our homes are built to last and finished to a high specification but in the event that you do discover any issues with your new home there is ample opportunity to raise any snags and have them resolved swiftly.

For the first two years after you buy the property, we provide an extensive fixtures and fittings warranty. On top of that, our homes come with a 10 year NHBC Buildmark warranty, so you can buy in confidence.