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Does a HomeBuyer Report look at fencing?

  1. Alison from Harrogate
  2. 30 May 2014
  3. Surveys questions and answers

Question

I’ve recently instructed a Chartered Surveyor to undertake a HomeBuyer Report on the house I’m buying. I’m particularly interested in finding out information about the fencing and garden. Would this be included in the HomeBuyer Report, or is there a better survey that I could get?

Answer

The RICS Homebuyer Report (Level Two Survey) considers the grounds of the property and reports upon the condition of various aspects if the repairs required are considered to be of a serious nature and/or could have an increased risk in respect of health and safety, for instance an uncovered pond or damaged footpaths which may result in an increased risk of trips and/or slips occurring.

Items considered include (if accessible) retaining walls, drives, paths, patios, terraces, steps, hard-standing, dropped kerbs, gates, trees, boundary walls, fences, non-permanent outbuildings and rights of way.

However, fences which require repair and the like are generally, unless substantial, not necessarily considered a ‘serious’ defect but may become so if, for instance, the security risks are higher, there’s a risk to the health of those using the grounds and/or the fences are providing a particularly high level of security which, if not present, could result in unwanted guests entering the site, such as dogs for instance. It’s often the case though that replacement of a few fence panels isn’t reported in the Level Two report as it will likely not impact the overall use of the property and not have an impact upon value, being more of a wear and tear issue which is covered by general maintenance of the building in the normal course of occupation.

Surveyors will carry out a visual inspection of the grounds during a general walk around, and where necessary and appropriate, from adjoining public property. The assessment should include such external features as retaining walls, gardens, drives, paths, terraces, patios, steps, hard-standings, dropped kerbs, gates, trees, boundary walls, fences, non-permanent outbuild­ings, rights of way, and so on.

The inspection should also include the inside and outside of all permanent outbuildings not at­tached to the main dwelling, where access is possible. This includes garages, summer houses, substantial greenhouses, follies and leisure buildings, but not the leisure facilities inside, for example, swimming pools, saunas, fitness gyms, and so on.
Surveyors will use a ladder to inspect a roof that is not visible from a window or another part of the building that is not more than three metres above ground level if it is safe and reasonable to do so.

If more detail is required and specific comment on fencing and the like, in particular cost of replacement and/or works required to rectify the defect (such as details of how to undertake the work for instance), then an RICS Building Survey (Level Three) Report may well be more appropriate.

It’s worth noting that each property is different and as such you should always discuss the property and your specific requirements, in particular if you are considering a Level Three survey as the surveyor should really be ensuring that this is a) the right type of survey for your needs and b) that he/she has the requisite experience and knowledge for the particular property type (not all Surveyors, believe it or not, are experts in Cobb built thatched cottages built in the 14th Century say).

Wayne Norcliffe

Wayne Norcliffe

Castle Surveyors

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