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Building Surveys


Firstly, any buyer contemplating purchasing a property should seek advice, in most cases this will be the largest single purchase a person will make. It therefore makes good sense to find out more about the property before being committed to it.

If you are buying a home with the assistance of a mortgage, the lender will probably obtain a valuation report to confirm that the property offers reasonable security for the loan. That valuation, although carried out by a qualified valuer and often paid for by you, is solely intended to satisfy the requirements of the lender - not the buyer. It provides brief details based on a limited inspection. Even if you receive a copy of it, it is not sufficiently detailed to provide you with enough information upon which to base a properly informed decision to proceed with the purchase.

A prospective buyer should therefore commission his/her own report which will cover in more detail areas not included in the valuation.

The Building Survey (often called a Structural Survey)

A Building Survey is an investigation into, and assessment of, the construction and condition of a building. It is based on a detailed inspection of the building in as much depth as is possible without damaging the building or contents.

The exact extent and style of the inspection will by the subject of specific agreement with the individual Surveyor. It may include specialist reports (services, drains, etc.). The report will include guidance on maintenance and remedial works and often a detailed comment on individual defects.

A Building Survey is essential when purchasing period buildings, those with unusual characteristics or of unusual construction. It is equally suitable for modern traditional buildings.

Because of the individual nature of a Building Survey it is not possible to give any guidance on costs, as it is with the Homebuyers Survey and Valuation. The fee will vary according to the type, size, value and location of the property. Surveyors will always be willing to discuss the level of fees prior to making the inspection and will sometimes make a preliminary inspection to ascertain the extent of the survey prior to quoting a fee.

The Homebuyer Survey & Valuation

This report is based on a format drawn up by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors It gives the prospective purchaser information on:-
  • The general condition of the property.
  • Any significant factors likely to affect materially the value of the property.
  • The value of the property in the open market.
  • The value for insurance purposes.
The information is provided in a simple and straightforward layout, easy to read and understand. It is based on a visual inspection of as much of the interior and exterior of the building as is accessible with safety and without undue difficulty, including roof voids, flat roofs accessible with a 3m (10ft) ladder, outbuildings, site boundaries, etc., and an overall impression of the services will be given.

This type of report is suitable for most twentieth-century property, but structures which are unusual by virtue of design or construction, and particularly large properties may require a more detailed report and may not easily fall within the format. Your Surveyor will advise you during the preliminary discussion.

The cost of the report will depend on the size and type of the property, its location and value. It is often not much more expensive than the basic mortgage valuation report and is far more wide-ranging and gives the buyer the information needed to make a more considered decision on the purchase.

The Mortgage Valuation

The primary purpose of a mortgage valuation report is to provide an opinion to the lender as to whether a property is suitable security for the money to be lent.

Whilst the valuer will, of course, take into account the general condition of the building, his/her valuation will be based on only a brief and superficial inspection of the property. On a pro-forma sheet the space allocated for comment on the condition of the building is very limited. Remember that the lender lends to a person and it is that person who is liable for the building, its condition and maintenance. Whilst the building is important, it is to some extent secondary for the lender's purpose.
Estate Agent offering Property Surveys
© 2007 Marcus Kemp Estates
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