Do I need a survey?

You are not obliged to get a survey though it is always prudent to do so. Properties in England are purchased under the edict of Buyer Beware. This means that if you find anything wrong with a property once exchange of contracts has taken place, the seller is not liable and you will have to pay for any necessary repairs. It is therefore advisable to have some form of survey completed on a property you wish to purchase.

There are 3 types of survey:

1. A Lenders Valuation Report – If you are using a mortgage to fund your purchase then the Lender will always carry out a valuation of the property. This is for your mortgage lenders purposes only and merely confirms that the property you are purchasing is worth what you are paying for it. It is unusual for the surveyor to advise you on the condition of the property and it is inadvisable to rely only on the terms of this report particularly because if a matter later comes to light that could have been revealed by the report you will have no recourse to the surveyor as they are employed by the lender only, not you, despite you having paid for the report!

2. A Homebuyers Report- This is a more detailed survey and will look at some structural issues. However this report has limitations as the surveyor may have limited access to the property. The limitations will be detailed at the beginning of the report. This is the most common survey report and is likely to highlight issues where further investigation may be needed. If repairs are required the report will point this out and this can then be used to negotiate further terms of the transaction i.e. that the seller carries out the repairs or reduces the price of the property to cover the cost (the latter is the most common outcome)

3. A Full Structural Survey Report – This is the most expensive of the surveys and will be a very detailed report focusing on all aspects both structural and non-structural. These reports tend to be advisable for older properties and those where it is obvious that works of repair are required.

A survey might seem expensive, but you may regret not having one if you have to pay out thousands of pounds later on for major repairs of faults you didn’t know about when you bought the property. If major defects are uncovered you might even think again about your purchase, or you could be in a position to renegotiate the price. A home is a massive investment and it is worth paying a few hundred pounds for a survey at this stage as it could save you much bigger sums, and lots of hassle, later on. If problems do appear later on which the surveyor did not point out, you may be able to claim compensation from them.