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Do you need a survey when buying a home?

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When buying a new home, you take a big risk if you don’t properly investigate the property and any issues it might have. Failing to identify problems up front can mean you end up overpaying for a property, being left with unexpected expenses or being left with a home you don’t feel happy living in.

A key part of the conveyancing process your solicitor will carry out for you is checking for any issues such as rights of way across the property, new developments in the area or anything else which would affect you when living in your new home. However, it is also strongly recommended to get a professional survey to look at the condition of the property itself and identify any potential problems.

Types of homebuyers’ surveys

A survey will involve a professional surveyor – who should normally be a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) member – inspecting the building and looking for specific issues. There are various different types of survey you can have that vary in scope, with the more in depth options being more expensive.

There are four main types of homebuyers’ survey you should consider:

Condition Report – The most basic type of survey, this uses a ‘traffic light’ system to give an idea of the state of various parts of the property. Green means an area is okay, orange indicates some cause for concern and red means serious repairs are needed. A Condition Report will also provide a summary of risks to the building, but will not include specific advice on what needs to be done to remedy any problems.

HomeBuyers Report – A more detailed survey that will identify major issues such as rot or subsidence as well as a valuation and an insurance reinstatement value (i.e. how much you could claim if the building burned down). This type of survey is non-intrusive, meaning the surveyor will not move furniture, lift floorboards, drill holes or in any other way interfere with the fabric of the building to investigate any potential problems.

Home Condition Survey – This type of survey is provided by the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA) rather than RICS and includes information such as broadband speed, a damp assessment and any boundary issues. A Home Condition Survey is likely to be carried out in addition to the other types of surveys mentioned here, rather than being a substitute for them.

Building Survey – The most expensive and most comprehensive type of survey, this includes much more thorough investigation of a property. The surveyor will check lofts, behind walls, between floors and above ceilings. The survey will include specific advice on required repairs, how long they will take and what they should cost, as well as details of what can happen if the repair work is not carried out.

What type of homebuyers’ survey do you need?

What type of survey you will need is entirely dependant on the circumstances and the type of property. In general, newer properties should have fewer issues so you may be able to get away with a more basic survey. However, for older buildings a more comprehensive survey is usually sensible choice.

You should also consider if there are any visible signs of issues such as damp or subsidence that you will want investigated. It is worth bearing in mind that new build houses are not always free from issues, so it is worth doing some research to see if the developer has a history of problems with their properties.

Your conveyancer should be able to advise you on what type of survey they believe is likely to be worth considering for your property and while a Building Survey can cost up to around £2,000, it can often be worth the investment.

Get reliable conveyancing to avoid being caught out when buying a new home

Bird & Co Solicitors is a Conveyancing Quality Scheme accredited law firm offering conveyancing services for homeowners across England and Wales from our 3 offices in the East Midlands.

We provide fast, reliable and cost-effective conveyancing for all types of residential properties. Our conveyancing team can advise you on all the appropriate checks, searches and surveys you should consider to help ensure you aren’t caught out by any nasty surprises after buying a new home.

To find out more about our residential property conveyancing services, call us today on 01476 591711 or use our contact page for details of your nearest Bird & Co office.