What is a Structural Survey?
A Full Structural Survey, or Building Survey as it is now titled, is an extensive investigation of a property which will report on all parts of a building that are visible and easily accessible. The Structural Survey will identify the property’s defects, their apparent cause, the urgency of repair, maintenance options and may also include an indication of the cost to repair.
It is the most expensive of the house surveys, but is also the most comprehensive and detailed evaluation of a property’s condition and construction.
The term Structural Survey, although the most widely used by the public, is generally no longer used by Chartered Surveyors, having been replaced with Building Survey. So when you’re looking for a Structural Survey, be sure not to disregard the term Building Survey when it comes up in your search.
Although all properties are able to have a Structural Survey conducted on them, they should particularly be considered if the building is:
- Significantly altered
- In need of structural work or has plans for conversions and renovations
- Thatched, timber framed or another non-standard construction
- Old or in a dilapidated condition
- A listed building
- One that cannot be included in the HomeBuyer Report.
When you’re getting a Structural Survey make sure you’re using a RICS surveyor – as they set guidance for surveyors. This will ensure that the surveyor you are using for your survey is fully trained and up to date with the changing standards and legislation.
What is involved?
A full Structural Survey will include:
- A building inspection
- A full survey report
- A property valuation (only if specifically stated to the surveyor).
The survey will inspect all visible and accessible parts of a building, including roofs, walls, floors, windows and doors, chimneys, cellars, garages and outbuildings. Surveyors have a legal responsibility to discover and inform of any major problems with a property, so during the building inspection surveyors will actively search for potential problems and building defects. This includes looking into cupboards and manholes, and an inspection of the services. The survey does not, however, investigate enclosed or concealed parts of a building, such as sealed roof spaces.
If you wish to have a property valuation included in your survey it will have to be specified, however, if the surveyor you use for the Structural Survey is approved by your mortgage lender it can be used instead of a mortgage valuation.
The types of problems the survey will identify are:
- Alterations to supporting walls
- Renovations that have occurred without necessary planning permission
- Presence of hazardous materials (e.g. asbestos)
- Damp and associated issues (e.g. dry rot)
- Evidence of woodworm or other insect infestations
- Evidence of subsidence
- Damage to masonry and roof
- Damage to timbers
- Large trees close to the property.
The Structural Survey takes longer than other types of surveys due to its thoroughness and comprehensiveness, and can often take up to a day to complete.
If there are any particular concerns you have about the structural disrepair of your property most surveyors are happy to investigate them and will be able to tailor your survey to your requirements, as there is not a standard format for the report.
When the survey has been completed, your surveyor will produce a final report which will reveal whether the inspection has discovered any major and minor defects that are compromising the structural integrity of the building. The report will identify and describe the problems and their cause, provide recommendations for further investigation and an indication of repair costs, and state what could happen if the problem is not remedied.
The report can take a long time to produce – you may have to wait for up to two weeks after the inspection. Although reports will be thorough and long, often 20 to 30 pages, they are written in plain English as opposed to legal jargon.
The Structural Survey is the most expensive house survey available and the cost will vary depending on the condition and value of the property. However, if the survey unearths costly problems with your potential property it could help with negotiations on the purchase price or give you an opportunity to rethink the purchase altogether.
If you’re not sure which survey is right for you – talk to a RICS surveyor as they can give you independent advice on which survey would be the most suitable for you and your property. Additionally, check out our article outlining the differences between a HomeBuyer Report and a Building Survey.
Cost of a structural survey
The structural survey cost of your property will depend on the type, size and also the location of where you live. The full structural survey cost will vary from approximately £500-£1,300. To save you money on your survey, compare fees by filling in our simple and quick form and receive up to four instant quotes from our RICS regulated Chartered Surveyors.
Last reviewed August 2016.