As your home is probably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, it is worth investing a relatively small sum to have the peace of mind that your purchase is sound. A survey could also save you thousands of pounds in costly repair bills in the future if any problems are spotted early.
Most conveyancing solicitors worth their salt will advise you to arrange a building survey before you buy a property, rather than rely solely on a mortgage valuation.
Your mortgage lender will require that a specialist valuer visits the property to work out how much the property’s worth so they can decide whether to give you a mortgage or not. However, this valuer is employed to check that the value of the loan you are securing on the property is proportional to the value of the property. A mortgage valuation – which are sometimes even ‘drive by’ valuations - will not reveal any structural problems that need fixing.
It is up to you, the buyer, to organise a proper survey to see if there are any structural problems. The Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors compare it to a “health check for buildings”. A surveyor’s report could save you thousands of pounds in the future, both in negotiating a new price following the revelation of structural issues, and in preventing future damage.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors recommends this survey for conventional properties which are in a reasonable condition and built within the last 150 years. The report is succinct but details any important issues that could affect the value of the property.
This survey is longer, generally more expensive and provides a detailed report on the building’s construction and condition. It is particularly useful if the property is the worse for wear, has been extensively altered or if you are planning major alternations.