What is a House Survey and Why Is It So Important?

You might think when purchasing a new home that a house survey is an unnecessary expense. Actually, it’s one of the more important things you need to tick off the list, and can save you money further down the line. In fact, those who decided not to get a survey faced, on average, £5,750 worth of repairs when they moved into the property, with a further 17% ending up paying more than £12,000 to make their homes habitable, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

In this guide, we’ll explore the world of house surveys; what happens after a house survey, how much a house survey costs, and do you have to have a survey when buying a house in the first place?

Do I have to have a survey when buying a house?

Legally, there is no requirement to get a house survey when buying a house. But they’re recommended by nearly every lender, because they’re extremely valuable at identifying issues with the property and can save you money down the line.

Choosing to skip a house survey can be an expensive choice and a huge risk when buying a property.

What do I find out in a house survey?

What you find out about your property during a house survey will depend on the kind of survey you choose. The types of house surveys available to choose from are:

  • A Condition Report
  • A HomeBuyer Report
  • A New-Build Snagging Survey
  • A Building or Full-Structural Survey

Types of house surveys

Condition report

A condition report is the most basic type of house survey, and provides a top-level description of the condition of the property you’re purchasing. It will highlight major risks or issues which could require immediate attention, alongside any possible legal issues. However with a condition report, you won’t be given any advice on how to resolve these issues.

Condition reports are suitable for nearly all ‘conventional’ types of property that appear in good condition, and are the cheapest surveys available at roughly £300+.

Homebuyer report

The next level up from a condition report, a homebuyer report will identify significant structural problems like damp or subsidence. Also included in the report will be any other major defects found in both the interior and exterior of the property, however these reports don’t go into a lot of detail, and won’t inspect behind the walls or under floorboards.

A homebuyer report is suitable for properties in reasonable condition, and is the most popular type of house survey, at roughly £350+.

New-build snagging survey

A new-build snagging survey is exclusively for the inspection of a new-build property (in case you hadn’t guessed!), and highlights issues which the builder or developer must rectify before you complete on the purchase of the property. New-build snagging surveys tend to cost roughly £350+.

You may think that because your property is brand new, there would be less problems, but this is not always true! You may find there are more problems with new-build homes as developers hurry to finish a new development, with new-build snagging inspectors finding plenty of problems in these properties.

Building or Full-structural survey

A building survey, or full-structural survey, is the most detailed type of house survey you can opt for. They are the best choice if you’re purchasing an older or Listed property, or if the home you’re buying requires a serious amount of work. In the survey, you’ll receive a detailed report listing not just all defects, but advice on how best to repair the damages. You’ll also benefit from the expert advice of the surveyor, detailing any areas that may need attention in the future, or potential ‘hidden’ defects.

Due to the level of detail you receive from a building or full-structural survey, they are the most expensive type of house survey, starting at £500 but can be considerably higher depending on the size and value of the property.

What happens after a house survey?

What happens after a house survey will depend on the results of your house survey. So let’s explore what will happen after a house survey with bad results, and after a house survey with clear results.

What happens after a bad house survey?

Most house surveys will return with a few problems, particularly if the property you’re purchasing is older. Surveys with issues may even help you renegotiate the price of the property, or you could consider asking the seller to fix any issues before progressing with the purchase.

You might consider your report a ‘bad’ house survey if it’s returned with any of the following:

  • Structural problems (like cracks in the walls or ceilings)
  • Roofing problems (ranging from small issues like broken tiles, to larger issues like a leaking roof)
  • Insulation problems (You can request an EPC to understand how well the house is insulated)
  • Damp (even if the damp is minor, it’s always worth understanding the cause to prevent it coming back)
  • Subsidence (if the ground below the property has sunk, which has caused the foundations of the property to also sink)
  • Issues with the pipes (ranging from sagging pipes, leaky pipes, or overflowing pipes)
  • Japanese knotweed infestations (a plant that can cause damage to properties and pipes)

Photo working roofers on replacing the roof of residential building

If you’ve chosen a condition report, you might (if they are visible to the naked eye and/or in areas of the property that the surveyor can access) see these issues listed on the report, but no additional advice from the surveyor on how to handle them. A building survey, however, will include detailed advice on how to repair each problem, as well as cost and time estimates and what may happen if the issue is not resolved.

Once you’ve gone through the report, you should contact the various tradespeople (roofers, electricians, plasterers, builders, etc.) you would need to carry out the work. Get quotes from each, and present them to the seller’s estate agent who will give them to the seller. You can ask the seller to fix any problems before you purchase the house, or if they won’t do this, you could renegotiate a lower price to cover the cost of the repairs.

What happens after a good house survey?

If your house survey comes back with no problems, you can progress with the purchase of your property!

Who pays for house survey problems?

If your house survey has returned some problems, you have a few different options depending on the type of house survey you chose to get.

If you chose a condition report, homebuyer report or building/full-structural survey, the cost of the repairs will technically be down to you, the buyer of the property. However, provided you undertook the house survey before you exchanged final contracts, you can ask the seller to cover the costs or renegotiate the price.

If you’re purchasing a new-build and have gone for a new-build snagging survey, you may even be able to pass the cost of the survey onto the developer, but not all will allow you to do this. If you submit your snagging list to the developers within two years of the completion date, the developer or builder should pay to fix anything found on the report. If submitted after two years, you will have to resolve these snags at your own expense.

How much for a property survey?

The price you pay for a house or property survey is dependent on the firm you choose to carry out the survey, and the value of the property and type of property – for example is it Listed? Is it a new-build?

The cost of a house survey will also depend on the kind of survey you choose:

  • A Condition Report: £300 or more
  • A HomeBuyer Report: £350 or more
  • A New-Build Snagging Survey: £350 or more
  • A Building or Full-Structural Survey: Starting at £500 but can be considerably more depending on the size, value, age and condition of the property.

Should I get a home buyers survey?

If you’re still wondering whether to get a house survey after reading this article, we’re not sure what additional advice we can give you! A house survey is a small investment that can reap huge benefits, and when you’re making one of the largest purchases of your life, choosing not to get a survey may not be worth the risk!

How to find a house surveyor:

Finding a house surveyor you can trust involves just a few steps to ensure you select a qualified and reputable professional. There are different types of surveys so you’ll need to decide which type of survey best fits your needs!

You’ll also want to ensure that the surveyor is qualified and accredited. Look for memberships in professional organisations like RICS in the UK, which indicates that the surveyor follows a code of ethics and professional standards. Alternatively, when you choose Key Solutions Mortgages as your mortgage broker, we can arrange a survey for you from our trusted panel of surveyors.

Remember that finding the right surveyor can greatly impact the quality of information you receive about the property. Take your time, do your research, and choose a professional who meets your specific needs and requirements!

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Call our friendly team today on 0800 138 5856 to understand how we can secure you a mortgage to find your dream home, or discover more helpful articles from our articles and insights page.

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