Background information and advice from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Incorporated Society of Valuers and Auctioneers.
The best way to reach an informed decision on such an important investment as a home is to have a professional Survey and Valuation of the property which interests you.
Before you decide to go ahead and commit yourself legally, you can minimize the risks by asking a qualified surveyor to answer these questions for you:
Commissioning your own survey is a simple, economical way to avoid unpleasant and perhaps costly surprises after you move in. In some cases the surveyors report may enable you to renegotiate the price.
Even if you are seeking a mortgage and maybe paying for a Mortgage Valuation Report, it is still advisable and prudent to arrange a Survey by your own surveyor. The Consumers Association Which Magazine and the Council of Mortgage Lenders both give this advice.
The reason is simple. The Mortgage Valuation Report is prepared for the Lender – not for you, the Borrower. It answers only the Lenders questions concerning the appropriate security for your loan. You cannot rely upon it to answer the questions which concern your personal interests.
RICS members also offer two forms of survey which are specifically designed to help home buyers:
A Building Survey (formerly called a structural survey)
A Building Survey is suitable for all residential properties and provides a full picture of their construction and condition. It is likely to be needed if the property is, for example, of unusual construction, is dilapidated or has been extensively altered – or where a major conversion or renovation is planned. It is usually tailored to the client’s individual requirements. The report includes extensive technical information on construction and materials, as well as details of the whole range of defects, major to minor.
The Home Buyer Survey and Valuation (usually called the Home Buyer Service)
By contrast, the Home Buyer Survey is in a standard format and is designed specifically as an economy service. It therefore differs materially from a Building Survey in two major respects. It is intended only for particular types of homes - Houses, flats and bungalows which are conventional in type and construction, and apparently in reasonable condition. It focuses on essentials - Defects and problems which are urgent or significant and thus have an effect on the value of the property – although it also includes much other valuable information.
The Home Buyer Report, unlike a Building Survey, provides not only a survey but also a Valuation as an integral part of the service.
The service – the Inspection, the Report and the Valuation – are all explained in detail in the accompanying description of the Home Buyer Service, but the highlights are:
This is an economy package
Because of the practical limits on the type of property and on the scope of its coverage, the Home Buyer Service is priced mid range – more expensive than a Mortgage Valuation but less than a Building Survey.
The Surveyor’s main objective in providing the service is to assist the prospective Home Buyer to:
Make a reasoned and informed judgement on whether or not to proceed with the purchase.
Asses whether or not the property is a reasonable purchase at the agreed price.
Be clear about what decisions and action should be taken before contracts are exchanged.
The Surveyor also gives his or her professional opinion on the particular features of the property which affect its present value and may affect its future resale.
The Concise Report covers the building inside and outside, the services and the site. It focuses on the defects and other problems which in the judgement of the surveyor are urgent or significant, but it also covers:
The general condition and particular features of the property.
Particular points which should be referred to the client’s legal advisors.
Other relevant considerations concerning, for example, safety, the location, the environment, or perhaps insurance.
Matters which are judged to be not urgent or not significant are in general not included in the Report, but the surveyor will mention matters judged to be both helpful and constructive.
Where the client has a particular concern – perhaps as to whether the property is suitable for a disabled person – the surveyor will keep this in mind during the inspection. Or a specific addition to the service – perhaps to the standard inspection – may be agreed between client and surveyor.
Where necessary, the surveyor may also be able to provide some extra service which is outside the scope of the standard package – perhaps providing a Schedule of Minor Defects (for later discussion with a contractor), or arranging fro the testing of main services by suitably qualified specialists.
Where the client should take some action before deciding to proceed with the purchase, this is signaled clearly in the text of the report and included in a summary of action and other key considerations.
The main features of the Home Buyer Service are compared below with those of a Building Survey:-
|Home Buyer Survey & Valuation||Building Survey|
|Type of Property||Conventional houses, flats, bungalows etc in a reasonable condition||Any residential or other property, in any condition|
|Type of Service||Economy package in standard form||Custom made to client’s individual needs|
|Objects of Service||
To assist client to:
1. Make an informed judgement on whether or not to proceed
2. decide whether or not the property is a reasonable purchase at the agreed price and
3. assess urgent and significant matters before exchanging contracts
To provide client with
1. assessment of the construction/condition of the property; and
2. technical advice on problems and on remedial works
|Special Features||Focus on urgent and significant matters||Details of construction/materials/defects|
|Valuation||Integral part of Home Buyer Service||Provided as an agreed extra|
|Form of Report||Compact, fixed RICS format||Usually much longer, in surveyor’s format|
Pearsons could earn a fee, in the form of a Voucher, upon a successful survey referral to one of our recommended Surveying companies.