A Guide to Home Surveys in 2018

Buying a new home can be a confusing and daunting task, whether you’re a first-time buyer or not, so you need to be fully prepared for what lays ahead. Today, I want to talk to you about home surveys, what they include and what to look out for when buying a new property.

Home purchases are the biggest expense for 90% of people in their lifetime so commissioning a home survey is well advised to find out what you’re getting yourself into. Faults are common in buildings and they can vary from small problems to very serious ones that could get worse over time. These faults can devalue a property and a home survey gives you a better idea of what you should paying for a property considering the amount of work you need to do. Additionally, they detail any future expenditure you might need to make to rectify issues with the property.

“If you are buying a property with a mortgage, your lender will arrange for a valuation to be carried out. This valuation survey indicates what the property is worth but it will not necessarily describe its condition. The valuer carrying out the valuation doesn’t necessarily have to tell you of any defects. Remember, a property with a large structural crack still has a value.” – Jenner Jones, who offers Home Surveys in London.

There are three aspects to home surveys – an inspection of the property, a report based on the inspection and a valuation which is included in your report. The aim of home surveys is to provide you with professional advice to help you make an informed decision on whether to purchase a property, what’s a reasonable price to pay and any costs that will be involved for repairs the property needs.

The Inspection

A surveyor will inspect the inside and outside of your property, including any permanent outbuilding on the property’s land. They do not move anything covering flooring services, like carpet, floorboards, furniture and won’t route through any of your belongings. The inspection is purely observational to determine where there are issues with the property and what needs to be done to rectify them.

When inspecting the property, surveyors take into account the services to the property, the condition of the outside surfaces, dangerous materials, contamination and environmental issues. However, a specialist test is not carried out, so efficiency on any services to the property are not assessed and are inspected only on a visual level for signed of wear and tear.

The Report

A report is produced by the surveyor for you to use, based on their inspection. They do not accept liability if it is used by anyone else. Choosing to not act on this advice is done so at your own risk, as this information is vital and costs can build up if problems are left unresolved.

Reports follow a standard format and are made up of the following sections:

A           Introduction to the report

B           About the inspection

C           Overall opinion and summary of the condition ratings

D           About the property

E           Outside the property

F           Inside the property

G           Services

H           Grounds (including shared areas for flats)

I            Issues for your legal advisers

J            Risks

K           Valuation

L            Surveyor’s declaration

What to do now

Description of the RICS HomeBuyer Service

Typical house diagram

The Valuation

Along with a report, you will receive a valuation of the Market Value of the property and the reinstatement cost. The market value is how much the property is worth on the date of the valuation. It considers the location, materials, services, fittings and so on to determine a reasonable sale value. The reinstatement cost is the cost of building a new home in the style of the inspected home. It also considers any garage, retaining walls, outbuildings and clearing the site. This can help you decide how much your building insurance should cover, which is required for the property.