When you’re buying a property you might think that you don’t need to have a survey carried out. At a time when costs are running high already and you’re trying to control your budget, it can seem like an additional cost that you don’t need.
But there are several reasons why you should always get a survey and they include the following:-
When you buy a new house you’re not just buying a home, you’re making a major financial investment. For most people their home is the most valuable asset they’ll ever have. You think about every detail of the property in many other ways – your budget, whether you can afford the repayments, the possibilities of remortgaging at a better rate in the future. It only makes sense then to check the physical state of the property. You can’t do this properly yourself (unless of course you’re an engineer or architect) so you need someone who can inspect the property.
The survey should be carried out by someone who has the necessary qualifications to do the job – that means an architect, structural engineer or qualified surveyor – and they should also have enough experience to know what they’re looking out for. You should put your request in writing and make sure you discuss with the surveyor what you want them to check. The might be some matters that a surveyor cannot reasonably inspect – they won’t always be able to check things that are behind fittings for example. Discuss the inspection with your surveyor and find out how they carry out their check. You should get a written report following the survey and if you have any issues or questions about it then make sure you go through them carefully with your surveyor.
2. The Bank’s Survey
When you’re discussing your mortgage application with the bank, you’ll be told that the approval will be “subject to survey”. This means that the bank won’t finalise your approval until they’ve carried out a survey on the property. While it’s tempting to do so, you can’t rely on this survey. The purpose of the bank’s survey is very different to your own. Their survey is for valuation purposes only. So it’s a check to see if the property is worth the amount of money being advanced in the mortgage. There’s no real examination of the structure, or at least nothing that you can rely on. The surveyor appointed by you is the person who will go through the structural condition of the property and provide the report that you need.
A survey is particularly important if you are considering making any refurbishments or extensions to the property. You’ll need to know if there are any issues with boundary or retaining walls. A surveyor will be able to tell you whether your plans are going to be possible. They’ll also be able to advise on various issues to do with services, external boundary walls with other properties and matters relating to access. Even if you have no immediate plans regarding works to the property then you should check this out with the surveyor. You might decide on extensions in the future and the surveyor is your opportunity to find out what’s possible.
4. A Comprehensive Check
The right kind of survey will provide you with an excellent overall view of the property which means you can make a fully informed decision. Ask your solicitor to provide you with a map of the property as attached to the title deeds so that you can give this to the surveyor for the purposes of comparing the boundaries on the ground with the legal map. Bear in mind that your solicitor will most likely never see the property on the ground so you need to get your surveyor to confirm that the boundaries shown are correct. Your surveyor will be able to pick up on matters that you noticed at the viewing. So if you noticed any cracks or damp patches during your initial viewing, make sure you highlight these to the surveyor so he/she can check them. They’ll be able to review the service points and this is particularly important if the property is a stand-alone with a septic tank or access to water via a well, for example.
The survey will also reveal issues that might not be obvious from your solicitor’s inspection of the title documents and this would include things like flooding proximity – is the property near a stream that could pose a problem in the future? Is there an issue with pyrite or asbestos? If you’re buying an apartment, is there a good fire escape and is the property up-to-date with the fire regulations. Several important issues affecting the property can only be revealed through a comprehensive survey and this is another reason why you should always have one carried out.
5. Caveat Emptor (“Buyer beware”)
At the end of the day when you’re buying a house it’s your responsibility to make sure that everything is in order. It’s not up to the vendor to point out things that you should make yourself aware of. There are some exceptions of course – in the case of fraud or misrepresentation but in general it’s up to you. You wouldn’t skip any steps of the legal process so you shouldn’t do that when you’re deciding to go ahead with the purchase in the first place. It might seem like an additional cost at the outset but it could very well prove to be money well spent in the future.
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