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24 July 2007

Always get a survey done

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by Brian Turner

Always get a survey done

The title says it all – Always Get A Survey Done!

I know from experience – even my 4 year old new build property from Barratts has suffered a range of issues, from leaking pipes, poor installation of double glazing, a failed boiler, and minor damp issues.

Although not all of these would be caught by a basic survey, the point is that unless the property is under 2 years of age – and therefore covered by a NHBC guarantee – then the condition of the property needs to be properly assessed, as you have nothing to fall back on but your own wallet if any problems do arise.

The trouble is, with the rising costs of buying a property in the UK – the property itself, the legal fees, estate agency fees, moving fees, stamp duty, insurance, the mortgage arrangement fees, etc – the temptation is to cut out anything that can save costs.

Such as a survey.

But of all the costs when buying a property, a survey is probably the most worthwhile, because it can forewarn you of very real costs you could find yourself with after buying the property – it’s probably the only financial outlay in buying a property that could save you money in the long-term.

Certainly HIPS packs require a survey to be included in the overall pack, but as the UK government has found itself having to slowly introduce the scheme, properties with less than four bedrooms don’t need a HIPS – which means there’s no compulsory survey involved. So buyers of homes and other properties not yet covered should never consider a survey to be a disposable option.

Types of survey

There are three main types of survey:

Mortgage Survey

This is really just a comparison pricing report based on property sale prices in the area, relative to the design and construction and overall features of the property in question.

The important thing to realise is that this is really just to determine whether the selling price being offered for the property is a reasonable one, as mortgage companies usually see it as an unacceptable risk to offer a mortgage far over the reasonable value of a property.

A mortgage survey is also compulsory when applying for a mortgage.

But a mortgage survey tells you nothing about the actual condition of the property being surveyed.

Homebuyers Survey and Valuation (HSV, HBSV or Homebuyer Report)

This is a far more detailed report, and while it will provide information on the property value, it especially concerns itself with the general condition of the property, focusing on visible and easily detectable issues that may required further attention.

This includes obvious significant detects, especially where further investigation is recommended before an exchange of contract.

A HBSV should also test walls and floors for signs of dampness, rot, and also woodworm, as well as comment overall on the existence and condition of insulation and damp-proofing works, etc.

Suggested insurance costs where issues are detected should also be provided.

Overall, this is probably the most common type of survey that you’ll really need carried out if you want to protect yourself for the future on a new property purchase.

Building Survey

A Building Survey does what it says on the tin – it does pretty much all of the above (commonly excepting a valuation) but additionally goes into great technical detail about the construction of the property, materials used, and likely issues relating to the property.

These tend to be recommend in less common circumstances, such as if you’re looking to renovate a property or else buy a property built before 1900.

Recommendations and comments can then be made according to the individual requirements of the property.

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