Buying a property is a major investment and it would clearly be unwise to buy property without seeking sound and reliable advice about the building.
Mortgage lenders will insist upon a valuation for their benefit. However, a copy of the report may not be given to you and it is not designed to give detailed information about the building.
Lenders will often try to sell you additional surveying services but these rarely provide you with truly confidential and impartial advice. Even if this may seem to be the cheapest option, it may turn out to be a false economy.
Selecting the right Professional to examine and report on the building is extremely important. Surveys should be carried out by a Surveyor who is properly trained in examining buildings to identify design and maintenance deficiencies. Don't be tempted to depend upon the advice of a friendly builder. You must be able to rely upon the advice given and a Chartered Surveyor is required to have adequate insurance.
- Appoint a Building Surveyor independent of any lender to carry out a full building inspection (structural survey) and report on his findings in full.
- Unless the property you intend to buy is a small modern property do not commission a Homebuyer Report.
- Always speak directly to the Surveyor to discuss the scope of the inspection and report before you consider instructing him/her.
There are many types of building inspection. The services offered are commonly labelled according to report format.
A Building Survey or Structural Survey is the most comprehensive type of report on the construction of a building and its condition. It does not normally include a valuation. It is, however, considered to be the most cost effective type of inspection and report, often costing a small percentage more than The HomeBuyer Report.
There is no set format for this category of report. As a firm of Chartered Building Surveyors regulated by the RICS you can be sure MacAllan Associates will provide a high quality of service.
This report format was only ever intended to be suitable for use on small, modern residential properties. Devised originally by Valuers within The RICS, it has been modified to limit further the scope of the report and to limit the Surveyors liability. It was marketed previously as The Homebuyer Service. (HBS) but has now been re-launched as The HomeBuyer Report and Valuation. (HBR+V)
Although the inspection for this report is necessarily more detailed than for the Mortgage Valuation, it should not be regarded as a Building Survey (structural survey). The report is concise and is provided in a set format. It is designed for clients interested in obtaining an 'economy' professional service in which non-significant or non-urgent defects are in general not reported. There is therefore an element of risk that defects will not be discovered or reported. Many Surveyors regard this as a service with so many limitations that they risk client dissatisfaction. It is unlikely to spell out the consequences of many defects. It may point out the need for immediate repairs and may recommend further investigations by "specialists".
The purpose of such valuations is to enable the Lending Institution to assess the security offered by the property for the proposed loan. Lenders have agreed a code of practice that states that they will take all reasonable steps to inform the Borrower as to the limitations of the inspection report and valuation and will suggest that the Borrower commissions a more detailed inspection and Report before entering into a legal commitment. Surveying services may be promoted by financial services brokers and advisors but details should be obtained from the surveyor.
Lenders' Panel Surveyors are generally Chartered Valuation Surveyors or other Surveyors with Valuation backgrounds. Broader services such as Structural Surveys are not normally offered by them.
The timing of the inspection in the purchasing sequence. The best time to instruct the Surveyor will perhaps vary according to circumstances. The general principle must be for this to be at the earliest possible stage.
Information that leads to indecision and a need for further enquiry or investigation is best received before unnecessary legal and other expenses are incurred. Equally, it is important that legal enquiries are made into the title of the property. This is particularly important where the property is Leasehold as is the case of most flats or apartments. The way the Lease is drafted will vary the type and extent of surveying service that you will require.
Rights of way matters, disputes between neighbours and other potential problem areas may also be identified during inspections. The extent to which the surveyor investigates such matters will depend on the actual terms and conditions agreed between Surveyor and client.
To contact a Surveyor -
CHARTERED BUILDING SURVEYORS
Enquiries about a survey: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please provide a link (URL or pdf) of the estate agent's property particulars where possible