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What survey do you need for a modern home?

  1. 05 October 2020
  2. By Jeremy Greer

Assuming a new property is defect-free can be (and usually is) a costly mistake. With the right survey report, you can make sure the repair costs don't come out of your pocket.

We’re pleased to welcome our partner Novello Chartered Surveyors to share their insight on the best type of survey for a new build home.

Purchasing a home is often the most significant investment a person makes, yet some estimates suggest that up to 80% of people don’t obtain an impartial survey report before purchasing. You may think there’s no need to spend money on a professional survey for a new home. However, according to a survey by the New Homes Review, conducted between 2018 and 2019, more than 90% of new-build homes have defects.

If you’re buying a new-build, you can get a snagging list from a RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Surveyor and use it to push your developer or builder to rectify issues, at no cost to you. If you’re purchasing a recently built (up to 40 years old) property that’s in reasonable condition, there are a number of survey reports you can obtain to potentially reduce the asking price.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of the survey options for 2020 to help you decide which one you need for your modern home.

1.     Snagging lists for new build homes

A snag is a problem that remains in your new build home after the construction work has been completed. In most cases, these snags are cosmetic, such as poor plasterwork and window scratches. But in many situations, there are more serious problems, such as large cracks, dangerously fitted fixtures and uneven surfaces.

It’s up to you to report these problems to your developer, which you can do with a snagging list. Snagging lists are compiled by independent, RICS Chartered Surveyors. These reports highlight all the problems your developer is responsible for fixing.

You should get a snagging list before purchasing the property, but after the work has been completed. Your developer can legally refuse access to the property during construction, but it can become increasingly difficult to get things fixed after you’ve settled in.

2.     Level 2 RICS HomeBuyer Report

For the past 20 years or so, the RICS HomeBuyer Report has been the most popular survey. Essentially, the RICS HomeBuyer Report gives you an insight into a home’s overall condition, and it’s generally considered suitable for homes built within the last 40 years with few alterations. The cost of the report usually starts at around £400 and is primarily based on the property’s value.

Surveyors must comply with the requirements set out by RICS to compile the report. A simple traffic light rating system is used to highlight defects in terms of severity, though problems are generally grouped into categories, meaning you might not get an accurate idea of the individual defects and repair costs.

You can use the HomeBuyer Report to reduce a home’s asking price, prevent legal issues or just avoid buying the property altogether. For a modest additional fee, you can get an impartial valuation with your report.

3.     Alternative Level 2 property surveys

Due to recent changes to the RICS Home Survey Standards, Surveyors can now create their own Level 2 property surveys, provided they comply with a minimum set of requirements. These regulation changes have enabled individual surveyors and firms to create Level 2 surveys that build on the HomeBuyer Report.

The Novello HomeLevel Report is one example of a new Level 2 survey that aims to be more relevant to the modern property hunter’s needs. It highlights all the same defects as the HomeBuyer Report but also provides more information on flood maps, broadband speeds, any visible asbestos, and energy efficiency advice.

Recently developed survey reports like HomeLevel have also been made more intuitive for today’s buyers. For instance, both surveys use a traffic light rating system, but HomeLevel rates individual defects. The HomeLevel report is also digitally compiled and delivered, taking fewer than 48 hours to complete.

4.     Level 3 property surveys

This survey is the most in-depth and provides detailed cost estimates for any required repairs. Unless you plan to purchase a home that’s been severely neglected – or you intend to make major renovations – you probably won’t need to purchase a Level 3 Building Survey for a new property.

What survey do you need for a new home? The verdict

Given their reasonable cost and the fact that so many new-builds can have problems, we strongly recommend obtaining a snagging list after construction has been completed, but before you move in.

If you want to buy a relatively new home (up to 40 years old), you should probably obtain a Level 2 survey. However, a Level 3 Building Survey can still be a great option if you want more detailed advice, or the property you are buying has been recently refurbished.

Established in October 2019 Novello Chartered Surveyors has set out to challenge the traditional role of surveyors in the house buying process. Novello covers London and most of the South East providing Surveys, Valuations, Party Wall, Leasehold Extension and Freehold Purchase services and advice to residential purchasers and homeowners.

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