Are you looking at buying or selling a property? Then chances are you will need to get at least one building survey done to comply with local U.K law. Here at Property Typing, we’re well versed in all the different types of building survey and building survey reports that exist here, so keep reading for our basic to UK Building surveys and why you need them.

Why do I need a building survey or mortgage valuation?

Once you have an offer accepted on a property, it’s time to consider if you need a survey. Do remember that mortgage valuations and surveys are different types of reports. A mortgage valuation just takes a basic look at the property and suggests a market-related value for it. The mortgage lender will likely insist on it as part of determining that the property has sufficient value to secure the loan, and will probably use a firm they trust. They may offer the survey free or charge for it- but don’t let that sway your decision. It’s better to get a low-interest rate and pay a small amount once off then get suckered into a higher interest deal.

A survey is an entirely different kettle of fish. This inspection is detailed and carried out to correctly assess the property’s condition. Surveyors will ascertain if there are structural problems, subsidence issues, major repairs or alterations needed, and offer expert commentary to assist you in making the most of the property. Whilst they are optional, they add a huge depth of knowledge to your sale or purchase, so they are highly recommended.

Can anyone do a survey?

No. A survey, no matter the type, must be carried out by a qualified surveyor, most of whom are members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors [hence the acronym RICS]. On the plus side, you can rest assured that not only are they knowledgeable professionals, but they also carry indemnity insurance. It’s always a good idea to opt for a local surveyor, so that they have a good knowledge of the area and its market values. This also applies to specialist buildings [say, a castle] – opt for someone with knowledge in that field. As professionals who work in partnership with surveyors all the time, Property Typing can help point you in the right direction.

What types of survey are there?

Which survey suits your needs will strongly depend on the depth of inspection you wish, balanced with the needs of your budget.

  1. Schedule of Condition Report

A schedule of condition report is the most basic survey available, which also makes it the cheapest. You won’t get a huge lot of detail from it, however. It’s more intended to accompany a valuation. You get a short summary of the risks and defects found, with no advice or valuation, and a red/orange/green system is used to indicate the condition of the various aspects of the property.

2. Homebuyers Report

These are the most popular surveys which are undertaken. You have the choice to have a valuation done with this report, which will add not only the valuation but also details used to help you create the correct insurance value for the property. The survey without valuation will not include those details but will cover obvious major problems such as rot, subsidence etc, without an intrusive search done to find issues. It’s not terribly in-depth.

3. Home Condition Survey

This survey is covered by the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA), not RICS. They add an extra element to the survey, using a very customer friendly format. Information goes into more depth, including aspects such as local broadband speeds, assessment of damp issues and even checking property boundaries. Each report is independently error checked as well, but the accompanying price tag can be a little steep.

4. Full Building Survey

This is a survey again offered by RICS. Whilst they are the priciest of the survey types available, they can be a worthwhile investment, especially on older or big-ticket properties. These are extensive surveys, where the surveyor will check behind walls and under floors. A detailed report will be generated, including estimate timing and costs, give you repair advice, and explain the consequences of not undertaking those repairs. It doesn’t include a valuation or insurance estimate unless you request it to, however.

5. Professional snagging survey

This survey type is appropriate for new properties, identifying errors that the contractor needs to fix before you accept the property transfer. Try to get this done as early in the process as possible, to protect yourself.

Get the most from your survey, no matter the type, by explaining any areas of concern you have to them before the survey begins. Walk through the property with them, ensuring that all areas are examined and covered, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and point out issues that worry you. You are the party with the most vested interest, so don’t be afraid to take matters firmly under your control.

No matter the type of survey you opt for, Property Typing has the experience to help the surveyor take their observations to the next level in clear, reader-friendly reporting formats that are not only accessible to the layman reading them but also match all necessary reporting frameworks. Please don’t be afraid to get in touch with us today if you need any assistance at all in this matter.